Fraternities should not shoulder blame for sexual assaults

This is concerning the recent incidents involving two fraternities on campus, and some items I feel the need to stress. Before proceeding, I feel it is important to note that I am an MSU student and a member of one of the seven fraternities on campus.

First off, what happened at the houses in question is beyond horrific and it is my hope that the perpetrators of these disgusting acts are discovered and prosecuted. As far as the situation surrounding the reports go, I only know as much as everyone else. As unfortunate as it is to have these houses suspended by the University, I applaud the administration’s response to these reports. I feel it shows their concern in seeking justice for the survivors, and I know that the Dean of Students wouldn’t have come to this decision lightly.

Yes, the sexual assaults happened at fraternities. However, it is unfair to group all fraternities into this category, and to assume that sexual assaults happen at every fraternity no matter where you go. In addition, by making this argument, it’s implied that sexual assaults happen only at fraternities.  Again, this is false. Sexual assaults also happen at bars, at house parties and in dormitories. I have met brothers at every one of the houses at MSU, and all of the guys I have met would never violate another human being.

[pullquote align=”right”]It’s not just an issue involving the Greek system; it’s an issue involving the entire MSU and Bozeman communities.[/pullquote]

This leads to my next point—by stating the above, I am in no way saying that any fault lies with the women who reported these assaults. Unfortunately, it is commonplace for people to say “Oh, she was dressed like a slut; she was totally asking for it,” or “Oh, well she shouldn’t have been at that house/frat party in the first place,” or “She should’ve kept a better eye on her drink.” This is called victim blaming and it is absolute garbage. No one ever asks for, or deserves to be, a victim of sexual assault. That “argument” is horrid. I believe that these two women were victims, and are now survivors of sexual assault. I commend them for coming forward; reporting this kind of crime is never easy.

My last point—all that we know is that the assaults happened at two fraternities. We do not know the identities of the survivors or the perpetrators. At this point in time, it would be illogical to immediately assume that the perpetrators were brothers of these houses; we just have to wait to see what the investigations reveal. But regardless of the identity or the association of the perpetrators, it is up to fraternities to ensure the safety and security of everyone at their houses. In this aspect, I do believe the houses in question failed. That being said, I am sure they are working to make sure incidents like this never happen at their houses again. And to assume that the entire house and every brother are responsible for these crimes is ridiculous. It was only the actions of select individuals. If it turns out the perpetrators were indeed brothers, I believe, and expect, that the houses will respond appropriately.

With a situation like this, it is easy and natural to jump to broad conclusions and generalizations. Please, everyone, use common sense when looking at these cases. Don’t automatically make any assumptions without looking at the facts, and do not assume anything about the survivors, the Greek system or the houses as a whole at which the assaults occurred.

As horrific as these crimes are, it does bring to light the greater issue of sexual violence and rape. It’s not just an issue involving the Greek system; it’s an issue involving the entire MSU and Bozeman communities. It’s not just up to fraternities, the University Administration or UPD to help prevent sexual assault. It’s up to every one of us. Whether it’s helping a friend who might have had too much to drink get home safely, being a volunteer with the VOICE Center or something as simple as calling someone out for making a rape joke. We ultimately decide what the culture of our university and city are. So, what kind of culture do you, as MSU students, want to have at your university? One where sexual assaults occur and survivors are embarrassed and/or ashamed for coming forward, or one where we ALL work to ensure the safety of every student?

-Nathaniel Wilson