The buffoons of fratland intent on proving every rape culture thesis ever written struck again, this time at the University of Richmond.
“Tonight’s the type of night that makes fathers afraid to send their daughters away to school. Let’s get it,” Bozo the Frat Bro wrote in an invitation to his Kappa Alpha rager last weekend.
“This is gonna be one for the books,” promised the invitation, emailed to nearly 100 people on campus, “so we’re looking forward to watching that lodge virginity be gobbled up for all. See you boys tonight.”
Seriously, boys, put the swords down and take off your horned helmets. Are you sure you haven’t been infiltrated by anti-fraternity moles trying to destroy you? Because this note is all kinds of stupid.
And it really calls into question all the high-minded malarkey that keeps being used to justify the Greek system at American universities.
Here is what the fraternity promises to teach you, inside the hallowed, beer-soaked walls of the KA frat house:
“You come to college with your values intact; you’ve learned from family and friends what’s right and wrong,” according to the fraternity’s website. “While in college, KA helps you keep your compass straight, develop your values-set and experiences, and points you in a great direction for your future. Then, with our history and your experience, your journey in life seems a little clearer. ”
The University of Richmond suspended the frat, the same way so many others have been suspended.
The list of Kappa Alpha incidents on other campuses is pretty long, including blackface parties, a pledge who had to have a testicle surgically removed after a brother gave him a “super wedgie” and last year’s lawsuit by the son of Alabama’s House minority leader, who said the hazing at his chapter of the frat was damaging enough to end his football career.
It was at a Kappa Alpha party that former Stanford swimmer and new member of the nation’s sexual offender registry Brock Turner got hammered before assaulting an unconscious woman on campus.
They’ve been doing moronic stuff since 1873, when Kappa Alpha pledge Mortimer N. Leggett was brought out into the Cornell University woods at night and blindfolded as part of an initiation ceremony. He died after falling into a gorge.
But singling out the KAs isn’t the fix. This story spans the Greek alphabet.
At Tau Kappa Epsilon at Towson University in Maryland, two students were arrested this summer after a spring initiation hazing ritual of making a 19-year-old pledge drink something caustic enough to burn his esophagus and make him vomit blood, then bullying him into avoiding medical treatment so they wouldn’t get into trouble.
Or the gentleman of Sigma Nu at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, who draped signs outside their fratcave on the first week of school last year that read: “Rowdy and fun, hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” “Freshman Daughter Drop Off” and “Go ahead and Drop Off Mom Too.”
Hundreds of thousands of men — among them our nation’s leaders in government and business — have been members of fraternities. And hundreds of thousands of women have been members of sororities.
The folks who treasure those ties point to lifelong friendships, professional networks and millions of dollars raised for charity. I get the appeal. My husband was in a fraternity when we were in college. And, to be fair, plenty of campus sex assaults have no connection to fraternities.
But here’s the truth. Fraternities and sororities are self-selecting, self-segregating institutions that usually require a little (or a lot of) money, and they are a way to perpetuate America’s increasingly two-tiered society.
Frats have even more downsides. They come with hazing deaths, binge drinking, relentless sexism and myriad rapes. Lives, bodies and minds forever ruined — and nearly all excused by the brotherhood of silence and privilege.
If fraternities are supposed to be places where young men learn so much about a moral compass, why do they keep acting the way they do?
At the University of Richmond, how is the Greek system responding to yet another incident of abhorrent behavior?
“Although great strides have been made regarding risk protocols and subsequent educational programming, the Council has decided to take a step back in order to reevaluate and assess current community practices,” said the school’s Interfraternity Council after shutting down frat parties the weekend that Kappa Alpha issued their Babylonian decree.
Blah blah blah. Yeah, that’s from page 347 of the Manual of CorporateBullSpeak, and it’s not going to do anything about the “toxic masculinity” that the council also mentioned.
How about the university itself?
Just four days before the Kappa Alpha Declaration of Stupidity was sent out, a University of Richmond student published a letter in the Huffington Post about the way she said she was treated after reporting a sexual assault.
Cecilia Carreras said the assault happened at an off-campus house in the summer of 2015 and that her attacker was a student athlete allowed to return to the school and his team.
“Spider Athletics has its own Brock Turner and Richmond’s administration did what it had to do to protect him,” Carreras wrote.
Campus officials responded to her online piece with a statement, saying that some of what she said was inaccurate but that they couldn’t go into details because of privacy laws.
“We have come together today to write to you because we were deeply saddened to read in a commentary in the Huffington Post yesterday about the pain felt by one of our students, and to hear echoes of that pain from other community members,” they wrote.
The day after her piece was published, the campus held its “It Ends Now: A Culture of Shared Responsibility” session.
And just a few days after that, the Kappa Alpha bros put their bearskin thongs on and declared war on virginity.
So all these campus programs aren’t really the fix, either.
The slogans and sexual assault programs and coordinators and campus support groups are great. But most of that progress seems to be happening on the victim side of things.
There is not a new epidemic of campus rape. It has been a serious problem for decades. Women are just finally speaking out about it now.
It’s time for universities to take an honest look at the value the current fraternity system brings to their campuses. Can they find another way to bring friendship, community service and networking opportunities to students without winking their way past the organized booze bashes that are too often the foundation of frat life? Can they dismantle a system that many alumni (who donate lots of money) revere? It would take some courage. And that’s been in short supply on many American campuses for some time.
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