Ever since R. Bowen Loftin became chancellor of Mizzou a little over a year ago, he has been proactive in his attempts to eradicate sexual assault on Mizzou’s campus. This goal is ideal for any college campus, and it’s exactly what Mizzou needs right now. Sexual assaults have been on the rise, especially this past spring, and clery releases are becoming a more and more common occurrence in the mailboxes of the students who call Mizzou home.
However, these attempts to make the campus a safer place are beginning to threaten the basic rights of students, especially those involved in the Greek system.
Loftin recently contacted the Mizzou Fraternity Alumni Consortium with a relatively simple idea: let’s prevent sexual assault and alcohol abuse among students. An innocent and noble request from the chancellor, who simply wanted to put into action a new plan to protect students.
The Consortium, comprised of representatives from alumni boards of campus fraternities, collaborated to come up with a new set of rules and policies. These are to be announced on June 20th, a time when the majority of students will conveniently be away on summer vacation and thus unable to protest what I think is the most offensive and ridiculous set of rules for a university to inflict upon fraternities, especially when those fraternities have contributed so much to the university and the community.
The rules to be presented include a mandatory drug test for in-house sorority and fraternity members, banning out of town formals, and disallowing women in fraternity houses between the hours of 10 PM and 3 AM.
Once again we see those in charge attempting to fix a problem by limiting the basic rights of students, instead of attacking the root of the issue. The men who suggest these policies are ignoring the integrity of students as both adults and people, opting to treat them like children and put a ridiculous set of limitations on the community that those students have spent years building.
Let me be clear. It would not, in any way, be realistic for me to claim that there isn’t a problem of sexual assault on campus. There is, and it affects each and every student. However, it also isn’t realistic for anyone to blame these attacks on fraternities and dub every member a potential rapist, especially when there has not been one mention of a fraternity house in any clery release put forth by the University of Missouri Police Department. There is no evidence that fraternity members are to blame for the attacks, most of which occur in and around freshmen dorms. The clery releases sent to students from Columbia Police Departments are vague and lacking in description in regard to the attackers, thus, in typical fashion, those in charge are looking for someone to blame in a desperate attempt to fix the problem. Instead of implementing rules to create a safer campus, they’re creating more victims and treating Greek students like absentminded children.
To be fair, there were some recommendations that would be effective in eliminating sexual assault, among which are hosting sexual assault summits for all Greek leaders and eliminating all alcohol besides beer from fraternity houses. The latter might still aggravate a few, but is minimal when you consider the other policies that deem Greek students nothing other than liabilities to be dealt with.
The Panhellenic Association, which was left in the dark on the matter along with the IFC, put together a letter to Chancellor Loftin noting their disagreement with the principles stated by The Consortium. The letter explained to the chancellor that the suggested policies do little to protect women from sexual assault, and that those who came up with the ideas should have consulted with PHA and IFC. Chancellor Loftin received the letter and promised to discuss the matter further, before completely ignoring this promise and putting forth the announcement of when the finalized proposal would be unveiled without consulting either party.
Now, those who could potentially be affected by this set of “recommendations,” the Greek students of Mizzou, are pissed. Here’s why.
Mizzou has held an incredibly influential Greek community for years, long before Loftin joined our school and long before attacks across campus increased. These Greek students have seized the opportunity to enhance their collegiate experience by joining an organization greater than themselves, and through which, they continually contribute and influence the campus. They are scholars, leaders, philanthropists, brothers, and sisters. They represent 55 chapters, self-governed and held to the highest standards. Are we going to ignore the fact that they organize and conduct the largest blood drive in the country every homecoming season? Are we going to ignore that they hold a collectively higher GPA than that of non-Greek students? Are we going to ignore the benefits that local and national organizations receive from events like Greek Week, that raised over $70,000 last year? Are we going to ignore the donations given to philanthropies, like the American Cancer Society, which recently received the largest single fraternity donation of $132,000 from Mizzou Alpha Epsilon Pi? No. We can’t. Because every single one of these achievements will be negatively impacted by the bogus set of policies that The Consortium is recommending. A set of rules that, if enforced, will kill Greek life and endanger the reputation of Mizzou as a whole.
It all comes down to this: the Greek students of Mizzou are people. Just like people, there are good ones, and there are bad ones. This does not mean that all fraternity men are rapists. This does not mean that all sorority women are victims. This means that they should be regarded, respected, and consulted when it comes to implementing a set of policies that will effect the system as a whole. The university needs to wake up and realize that Greek culture is a separate entity from the issue of sexual assault, and that limiting the rights of said culture will only hurt the students that they are striving to protect.