Maybe Students Need A Reality Check
Earlier this week, Sigma Phi Epsilon at the University of Vermont was suspended after new members responded to a fifteen question document. A questionnaire sounds harmless enough, right? Wrong. One of the questions was, “If you could rape someone, who would it be?”. Students at UVM held a rally on Thursday about the incident, and the suspension comes after over 3,200 students signed a petition requesting action against the fraternity. Sigma Phi Epsilon’s headquarters say that this is an isolated incident and it does not reflect the views of the fraternity, they did take action and are conducting an investigation.
This situation is reminiscent of the Yale Delta Kappa Epsilon scandal of October 2010 where members were led around campus chanting “No means yes, yes means anal.” Yale announced in May that they were suspending the chapter, but the scandal also resulted in the creation of the Marshall Committee and the subsequent banning of Yale Sex Week. While the UVM scandal has sparked conversations at UVM that “speak out against rape culture (evidently actively fostered by this UVM fraternity)” it’s also sparked a lot of conversations in support of the fraternity. Even though it appears the incident was isolated between a few individuals, it doesn’t change the fact that it encouraged rape.
I’m a part of my school’s Greek system, and I’ve seen several fraternities get kicked off campus for hazing violations including the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter that my boyfriend at the time was in. It’s definitely difficult to see a brotherhood torn down, but there are consequences for actions. What’s surprising to me is the reaction of students, including many females, who are in support of the chapter as if there should be no repercussions for encouraging rape or even joking about it. Whether kidding or not, rape isn’t funny and this questionnaire was in poor taste. It got me thinking about our generation’s behavior.
I’ll admit straight up that I think Total Frat Move is hilarious, but sometimes I laugh at things and am shocked that I found it funny. It’s a reflection of the college culture that we live and breathe. We talk about fratdaddies and slampieces, and while it’s lighthearted and all in good fun, are we fostering the kind of behavior that we’ve seen in these publicized fraternity scandals? I think so. Maybe it’s about time we check ourselves if we want incidents like these to stop. Where does the change start?
I’m not sure exactly where, but as Ms. Norbury said in Mean Girls, we “all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.” We as women get so offended by what men say, and by no means am I saying that we bring it on ourselves, but guys aren’t that in tuned to things. When they hear us calling our friends sluts, they think it’s okay to do the same. Then they take it up a notch, and then a few idiots do something stupid like talk about who they want to rape and it makes national headlines. So while we’re not the cause of these situations, maybe our generation needs a reality check about what’s funny and what’s not.
What do you think? Do college students need a reality check on behavior? Is UVM right in suspending Sigma Phi Epsilon?