Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Fraternity culture is problematic

Parties thrown by fraternities have negative consequences for both sexes

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Fraternity culture is problematic

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Sophie Allen, Collegian Columnist

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Fraternity life ruins partying. Of course, there is more to college than going out on the weekends, but most students want to be able to go out if they so choose. The problem is that  there aren’t too many places for those of us under 21 to go. Freshmen usually can’t get into house parties or bars; dorm parties are an impossibility if we don’t want to get written up for being loud. That leaves us with fraternities. Unfortunately, most fraternity houses come with their own set of rules, which are not universal: some Greek organizations only let boys in if they have enough girls with them. Some don’t let boys in at all. Some make boys pay but let girls in for free. At least two fraternities at the University of Massachusetts make everyone, male and female, wait outside until the brothers “working the door” decide to let people in.

The issue is that not all girls want to dance in a moist basement knowing a fraternity brother could sidle over and grind on them at any moment. Not all girls want to leave their male friends at the door. Not all girls want to walk into a house with the mantra “don’t drink the Jungle Juice” echoing in their minds. Nine times out of 10, Jungle Juice is just a cocktail of beer, liquor, Hawaiian Punch and Kool-Aid powder. But there is always a chance that the 10th time is the one girls are warned about: getting roofied. Freshmen in college don’t know whether they’re going to get drugged at a fraternity event. Even if they don’t get drugged, there’s a chance they could be taken advantage of if they get too drunk and wind up alone with someone. According to the Department of Justice, one in four undergraduate females experience sexual assault by the time they finish college. Additionally, the UMass 2016 Annual Security Report states the school has on record 20 cases of reported rape (both occurring on and off campus), meaning that many more were swept under the rug. Of every 1000 rapes, only 310 are reported.

At this point, I’d like to note that I have specifically not mentioned sororities because they do not really create issues like their male counterparts. Sororities do not treat female party guests – or their sexuality – like an admission ticket.

Nor do I intend to compare the experiences of males and females at fraternity events, at least not in the sense of stating whether one group’s experience is “better” or “worse.” A woman should not have to be constantly on edge about whether someone is going to touch you without your consent, yet men shouldn’t be turned away at the door of every single party solely because of their gender.

In many ways, fraternity culture is harmful and problematic. It allows for a toxic mix of many young, typically white men with access to alcohol and a social status that exempts them from the consequences their actions might otherwise warrant. Yes, UMass has a strict policy against hazing, but that doesn’t mean the fraternities still don’t get away with a lot. I’m sure many fraternity brothers, at UMass or at other schools, mean well, but fraternity houses are unregulated, unlike a bar, or closely monitored, like a residence hall. To me, fraternities exemplify what many people recognize as toxic masculinity: sleep with women and eliminate the competition, no matter what. Accept high-fives from your friends when you get up close and personal with a girl, no matter how drunk she is. It’s easy when you control the alcohol.

It’s hard to acknowledge that a staple of your life is problematic, especially if you benefit from it. I benefit from Greek culture; my friends and I can usually get into parties without trouble. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been sexually assaulted. It doesn’t mean we feel safe in fraternity houses. It doesn’t mean we aren’t upset when our male friends tell us to go on ahead, and that we’ll see them back at the dorm. It doesn’t mean nothing needs to change.

Sophie Allen is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]


18 Responses to “Fraternity culture is problematic”

  1. John Aimo on March 7th, 2018 3:29 am

    Wow talk about a racist article. “typically white men’ Somehow there is something wrong with being white or having or mainly associating with other white people?

    There is also no such thing as ‘toxic masculinity’ it’s just a made up term by liberals. I have a new term ‘toxic liberal ideology’. Also rape exists everywhere and is not exclusive to fraternities or men, to state that is not only misleading it’s also stupid. Fraternities don’t have some exceptional or unusual incidence of rape and it’s rather shameless that the author of this op-ed piece is willing to use a brutal violent sexual crime to bolster her argument/hatred against fraternities.

    I am not a member of a fraternity or care about them, honestly I think the people who are part of them are just a bunch of meatheads but at least if I was going to make an argument against fraternities I wouldn’t use racism or fearmonger about rape to make my points.

  2. NITZAKHON on March 8th, 2018 9:22 am

    Racism (etc.) is all the Left has. But then, the Democrats have always been, historically, the party of racism.

    The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party

    But in regard to fraternity parties specifically. If they bother you that much… don’t go! Organize your own. Exercise a little initiative instead of whining.

  3. Cory shouse on March 7th, 2018 10:41 am

    Why does gender matter? If you’re in a fraternity and you pay to be in the fraternity as well as the alchohol that’s at the party why would you want to let random guys in? Guys in fraternity’s want to party with their brothers not some random guys they don’t know. It also ends up causing trouble letting to many random guys in. Because when they do something to a girl it’s assumed their in so and so fraternity which isn’t good at all.
    Secondly if you personally feel constantly on edge at a fraternity party then maybe you shouldn’t attend the party. Maybe you should make friends with people who have a house and have partys that aren’t exclusive to the fraternity. it not like fraternity guy’s have the only houses available to throw partys in.

  4. Ed Cutting on March 7th, 2018 2:32 pm

    So she’s been sexually assaulted at frat parties and yet continues to attend them. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with her? She knows, or believes, it’s an unsafe environment and yet continues to go back into it. That’s a mental health issue — an inability to ensure for her own well being.

    The larger issue is the absence of heterosexual mainstream social activities on campus. There is no safe venue on campus for boys and girls to meet each other particularly those who are not members of the various ethnic affiliation groups.

    This is why UMass has problems. But to go back to a place where I was assaulted is something I cannot understand and would never do.

  5. lets be real on March 7th, 2018 3:46 pm

    You say that fraternity culture is toxic and unsafe, yet you constantly say how you go out to these fraternity parties still? If you were really against this culture you would not still be attending this parties, right? This article is incredibly hypocritical. Looks like you are just another liberal who doesn’t understand Greek life, (and probably did not get a bid anywhere) and now are just against it due to this fabricated idea of “toxicity”. People like you are the reason why Trump won. Do better.

  6. Anonymous on March 7th, 2018 4:23 pm

    Dear Sophie Allen,

    To start off, if you don’t like the environment of a fraternity party, don’t go there. If you think something bad will happen, just prevent it from happening by not going. No one is forcing you to go. No one is holding a gun to your head and making you go to a fraternity party. Go drink with your friends in your room and play soft music if that’s what you’re looking for. The party scene isn’t for everyone and it cleary does not seem suited for you.

    Secondly, fraternties are way beyond just partying. For you to exemplify fraternities as guys who just parties and rape girls is the most biased and self-centered opinion you can have. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion so be it. Fraternities do so much and more for the community. They participate in numerous philanthropic events and fundraisers where the proceeds are fully donated to charities and organizations that use the money to good use. An example would be children’s hospitals, cures for cancers, to people who need assistance and cannot assit themselves.

    Now I’m not saying there are fraternities here that do not do what you said such as make Jungle Juice and grind on girls, but if you’re looking to get into a party, you know what to expect. Bring your own drinks, drink beforehand so you don’t have to get drunk there. And know your limits. Don’t blackout and put yourself in that situation if you can’t handle being drunk. Grinding on girls? Tell me a party where that doesn’t happen. House parties that aren’t fraternities, the clubs, bars, it happens everywhere. If you don’t want to get grinded on say no to the guy and just leave it’s as easy as that. For you to single out fraternities as a whole is an absurd claim that cannot be justified.

    From your previous articles, it seems as though you just hate men in general and come off as completely sexist. Maybe you should just not associate yourself with any guys and have only girl friends. Fraternities aren’t all “white guys”, saying just that makes you a racist who can’t seem to comprehend that there are numerous organizations, that’s what a fraternity is, that include a diverse amount of races and cultures. Sure there are plenty of white guys, but does mean you’re excluding the minorities? That just indicates your insolence and pretentious perspective on fraternities.

    Have fun partying in your own room.

  7. Do some research on March 7th, 2018 4:23 pm

    You claim that fraternities “aren’t regulated,” but at the same time you write, “At least two fraternities at the University of Massachusetts make everyone, male and female, wait outside until the brothers “working the door” decide to let people in.”

    For your information, those brothers “working the door” are normally posted there to control how many people are in the house. They’re also there to often make sure that only people they know or people who are invited can get in. You know, because a private house gets to decide who they let in. Also, did you know that fraternities often have an E-board to answer to? There are rules in many of them and brothers can be held accountable for their actions by their executive board.

    You should really learn more about the system and maybe take a chance and make friends with some of the brothers. They’re not all the creepy predators you seem to describe them all as.

    I’m saying this as a woman with many male friends in fraternities. Open your mind and expand your horizons a bit. And if a frat is really putting beer in its jungle juice (which I have never seen in my 4 years at UMass), just go to a different house, or BYOB. It’s not that hard.

  8. Rafael Cruz on March 7th, 2018 4:51 pm

    This article has absolutely nothing to do with fraternities. You criticize fraternities for not letting everyone into their parties, but that is exactly how every bar and nightclub in the world operates. You say there is a risk of girls being taken advantage of, but fail to explain how that risk is any greater due to it being a fraternity party. The fraternities here are notably diverse and there are many African American specific and Asian specific fraternities and sororities that you’ve completely ignored. UMass fraternities do not give out alcohol, and it seems like you have this stereotype of a ‘frat boy’ in your mind that you blindly apply to anyone who decides to take part in Greek life.

  9. Tyler Pace on March 7th, 2018 5:00 pm

    Firstly, greek life at Umass is probably under 15% of the student body, so trouble finding a party may be your own social problem; if you don’t like them then don’t go to them. Secondly, in my experience, from my fraternity, we do not let in boys because we like to have a good time with our own friends, and 99% of the time it is someone who is not in the fraternity who causes a problem or needs to be escorted out because they are being “creepy”. Finally, since it is our own place and our own friends, with our name on the line we take extra care to treat all guests with respect and make sure that everyone is acting accordingly. An article like this is very concerning and completely one sided; no where does it mention all of the benefits that a group of 70+ men can contribute to society as a group. Our fraternity volunteers at amherst survival center 3 times a week, and has raised countless amount of money for various causes… What exactly have you contributed to the community besides hate speech and prejudice?

  10. GG on March 7th, 2018 5:16 pm

    I am a Latin-American in Greek life. First generation American. My family values and my fraternity’s align. We protect people’s rights, we don’t like to let people into our homes that we don’t know or who look like they will damage, steal our property. In my experience at UMass, women are better about this than men. We do not condone hazing, as it humiliates the individuals involved. The purpose for our organization is to build them up so why would we want to have that animosity in their back pockets? We do not allow sexual assault at any of our events, let alone social events…it is an ugly thing that is unjustful to its core. Before joining Greek life, the level of danger at parties for both male and females off campus became clear. It’s worse than these fraternity parties you speak of. My friends and I have been in many situations disarming other males from sexual assault on women, and in many cases preventing women from assaulting each other. UMass has an underlying problem, some Greek organizations get away with the infractions they are caught with, but outside of the Greek world it’s a lot worse.

  11. Anonymous on March 7th, 2018 7:13 pm

    I’m not in a fraternity either, but I believe the “people at the door” makes sense. Why should they be forced to allow everyone in at parties they are willing to use their own house for? I don’t see how that’s a problem considering every how police get involved at every house party that gets out of control. This article is full of reaches and grasps for statements that were pulled out of thin air. Not a fan, feel like it’s a rant with nothing to back it up

  12. Richard Burns on March 7th, 2018 9:35 pm

    Thank you for speaking your mind, regardless of how limited the information you stated without any facts, figures or references. I personally am in a fraternity and have been for almost 50 years. The parties I was invited to, whether at our Fraternity house or at another location were always well chaperoned, if not by paid law enforcement personnel, then by adults or alumni who had a stake in making sure nothing got out of hand. Some of the undergrads did not like that but, the alternative might be some bad happening THERE and resulting in law suits, etc. In short, too much to lose allowing anything to go on. I know that the reputations of Fraternities has taken a severe beating over the last 25 years, mainly on TV, the Internet and other mass media. Some so very true that it bothers me that those Fraternities could not understand the message being broadcast loudly by the Universities and society in general: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. But, also understand that there is also a lot of unreported problems with other clubs and TEAMS that has been swept under the rugs (ie: Penn State, Florida A&M, Florida State, USC, etc.) and hoped that they would never see the light of day. All groups have their minor problems, usually one or two wild children who, for whatever reason seem to feel that the common laws do not apply to them or, they are so gifted and wonderful that no one will mind what they do. They really should call this a form of mental illness but, no one seems strong enough to come out and say so for fear they will be labeled some kind of crack pot or worse, A RACIST of one kind or another. Do yourself a big favor, take some time and visit the Fraternities and sit down to discuss your concerns and their concerns as well. Giving all of them a bad name or reputation is very unfair and does lead to undeserved labels and punishments, some of which can almost never be erased.

  13. Anonymous on March 8th, 2018 2:56 pm

    Lazy article.

  14. Dayton MacArthur on March 8th, 2018 3:15 pm

    To say that this article is rooted in hate and preconceived biases would be a severe understatement.

    There is nothing accurate about this article than except for the fact that the writer, Sophie Allen, is rooted with ignorance and bigotry. Not only are there multiple inaccuracies with her writing, but a lot of it just isn’t true or believable. If you want to get your point across that people should hate fraternities, you have done a very poor job of doing that, because everyone reading this article can easily see right through the personal bias. There is nothing convincing about this article that would sway anyones opinion, partly because of how radical and unjust it is. If you don’t like fraternity parties, don’t go to them. You probably went to one fraternity party and didn’t have fun at it. Thats like me writing an article for the Daily Collegian talking about how dangerous the Asians Student Association is just because I don’t like Chinese food, absolutely ridiculous.

    Overall, this is an absolutely horrible look for the Daily Collegian, a campus newspaper that used to have a lot of credibility. Whoever runs the Daily Collegian should seriously consider retaining Sophie Allen, because articles like this are what kills the journalism industry.

  15. Do your research. on March 8th, 2018 6:45 pm

    This is one of the most hypocrital arguments against Greek life that I have read in a while. I would like to state that I am a woman part of Greek life on campus and I would like to speak to some of your points. First of all, sorority women could never develop a reputation like this considered we are not allowed to host parties at our respective houses. In fact, most of our houses are alcohol free which is mandated by housing directors, e-board members, etc.

    Secondly, if fraternity members are opening their private homes for you to come and socialize at, do you really believe that they shouldn’t have a say for who comes inside? They have people monitoring the door, because like any building, there is a maximum capacity of people who can be inside. This is mandated by the fire department and the police station. Additionally, every weekend they subject their homes to be completely trashed with alcohol and vomit. In the morning when you are sleeping in your dorm, who do you think is up cleaning their houses so they’re not absolutely filthy? I can be certain it’s not you. Additionally, everyone who steps into their home is now their responsibility. They pay a hefty amount of dues in order to have a place to socialize with THEIR friends, not yours. Their open house policy is simply a courtesy. I would hope that as someone who doesn’t pay dues, deal with the aftermath, or take on the responsibility, you would be a little more humble.

    Thirdly, fraternities are much more than just party houses. They contribute to many philanthropic organizations and work towards bettering the community. One fraternity woke up the morning after Blarney and spent the day picking up the streets filled with beer cans and trash left there by students like yourself. They volunteer their time in order to make a difference. They are also made up of a variety of different races and ethnicities so for you to bank off the stereotypes that fraternities are composed of a bunch of white men is racist on your part.

    Finally, if you’re so bothered by the culture then why do you still participate? I hate to break it to you but once you turn 21, you will still have all of these problems looming over your head. You don’t want to dance in what feels like a moist basement? Don’t go to any clubs. You don’t want to get roofied? Don’t take drinks from strangers. You don’t want to wait outside in the freezing cold waiting to be let into a bar at max capacity? Then you should probably just stay in. If you don’t want to be touched or approached by random men, THEN SPEAK UP. These are not fraternity issues, these are life issues. If you are unhappy with the culture, then be the change. Start your own organization and see how much time and effort goes into establishing one and then you can create your own rules. Hell maybe you’ll even see why they have rules in place.

    You should really do more comprehensive research before publishing an article like this. I am honestly disheartened and disgusted that your supervisor allowed you to publish this. Talk about fake news.

  16. NITZAKHON on March 12th, 2018 9:17 am

    All of your suggestions have two problems. 😉

    1. They imply taking responsibility for oneself.

    2. They require an acknowledgement that the world is not an ideal “safe space”. (See #1)

  17. Annoyed on March 10th, 2018 11:24 pm

    This article is the pinnacle of idiocy and spinelessness of the Collegian. I am sick of what you guys get away with calling “news”. If you don’t like frats, DONT GO TO THEM. No one is asking you to go to them. If you are under 21 and want to party, do what 90% of the school does and throw dorm parties or go to house parties. This is one of the most poorly written articles I have ever read. You swap back and forth between sexual assault, hazing?????, sexism and other nonsense. Yeah frats are not a good place for women. So how about you do not put yourself in a situation that everyone knows is risky. Also your one in four article has been debunked so many times. I beg the Collegian to start fact checking and proofreading their articles. This type of stuff really makes UMass look bad.

  18. R on March 11th, 2018 11:55 pm

    victim-blaming and white male entitlement/aggrievement…..yep, toxic frat culture on full display in this comment section. point made.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

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