Content note: this post discusses fraternities and sororities, discussing rape, abuse, harassment and hazing.
If you’ve walked around central campus this week, you’ll have noticed some rather bizarre, fascist looking A3 posters. These posters are the work of Delta Kappa Epsilon- one of the oldest, largest fraternities in North America.
Every person who’s ever spent more than 5 minutes watching crappy tv shows will have an image of what a frat boy, a frat house, and a frat party looks like. But they’re just real life guys, and they’re not actually a bunch of rapist, apologist, non-consensual abusive misogynists, are they? They’re not actually nepotistic are they? And they’re not *actually* just for men, are they?
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The organisation One In Four published a report on sexual abuse, harassment and rape on campuses in the USA. They found that 55% of all gang rapes were committed by fraternities.The fraternity advertising at Edinburgh have been embroiled in numerous scandals; most notably, there is a youtube clip of fraternity members chanting ‘No means yes! Yes means anal!’- which got the Yale chapter suspended for five years. All DKE activities were banned from Colgate University as fraternity members were found to be hazing (the practices of abuse, harassment and humiliation that one undertakes to be initiated into a group). At the University of Alberta, DKE have been suspended for three years after they too were found to be hazing.
There’s also one other blindingly obvious problem with fraternities: nepotism. The Fraternity and Sorority Affairs: National Statistics research proudly boasts that of America’s biggest 50 corporations, 43 are headed by fraternity/sorority members, 76% of Senators are fraternity/sorority members, and 85% of the Fortune 500 key executives are fraternity/sorority members. Past members of DKE include President George Bush (yes, that one. The one who launched an illegitimate war in the Middle East resulting in the murders of millions of innocent people, yeah, that guy) and J.P Morgan (of J.P Morgan the bank largely responsible for the 2008 financial crisis, paving the way for global neo-liberalisation, mass unemployment, homelessness, and death fame).
This behaviour is endemic in fraternities. They are a danger on our campuses- they perpetuate rape, harassment and abuse.The nepotism they exemplify has no place on our campus. Our campuses should be places of safety, education, expression and exploration. Elite universities are already hugely overrepresented in media, politics, art and business. We do not need to further entrench this divide through secretive, nepotistic cliques. Our campuses are already dangerous for women, NUS’s Hidden Marks report shows that 12% of women students had been stalked, 68% had been harassed in and around their institutions, 10% report having been spiked before an attack, and one in 7 report experiencing serious sexual assault or harassment. Campuses are dangerous places for women, and we will not tolerate any organisations that threaten to make our lives worse.
In an information meeting with a DKE member today, I (and others) were told that all of the main fraternities and sororities in the USA are looking to spread to the UK as soon as possible, that DKE were setting themselves up at St Andrew’s and Warwick universities, and that ‘secret societies’ existed all over the UK. We have to stop this culture before it spreads around British universities. We have to make it clear that we will not accept nepotistic misogynists in our institutions, and that must start with opposing DKE at The University of Edinburgh.