LETTER TO THE EDITOR: alumnus reflects on rape culture in Greek life

Published by adviser, Date: September 9, 2015
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In the Sept. 4 issue of The Rocket, an editorial from The Rocket staff (at least the vocal members that bleed Greek Life argued that although “rape culture is an important topic that fraternities should have a voice in,” that a photograph featuring a sign reading “Thank You Fathers For Your Freshmen Daughters” with members of Sigma Tau Gamma wearing “Rush Sigma Tau” shirts should not be a springboard for this discussion. It declared the photo “old news” with many of the members at the time since graduated and said that Sigma Tau Gamma had removed the sign and been reported to the national headquarters. The tone was one that this was not worth worrying about anymore, so let’s forget it happened and try to move on! The Rocket ran an opposing stance from the perspective of “GDI” staffers that basically said the sign was bad and degrading to women and should be given attention.

First off, this “old” sign was from August 2013, hardly over two years ago, and just when my younger sister was entering as a freshman at Slippery Rock University. As a student at the university at the time, I felt driven to comment on the situation, and it IS a situation. Just because there hasn’t been an incident like this since (at least not one that was brought to the public’s attention) does not mean it is something that should be brushed under the rug.

The idea that such a monstrous, deplorable example should NOT be used to facilitate a discussion on rape culture is unfathomable. Further, declaring the sign an “anomaly for fraternities at SRU” is a reflection of public relations of SRU and Greek Life at its highest degree. Granted, rape culture is not something to my knowledge that publicly fills the streets of Slippery Rock. It’s easy for me to say that as a privileged white male though, just as it is easy for SRU and Greek Life to take a brushing off stance of “sure, it’s a problem, but not common.”

It was easy for me to see the 13 emergency help stations on campus, to know police were working 24/7 and could be reached and provide escort by calling 3333 anytime, and to notice the lighting on campus (except for those pesky lights walking back from the Robert M. Smith Student Center which were always burnt out). Similarly, I put trust in SRU Greek Life as an organization and its members, having many friends that loved being a part of it including some fraternity members that I know for a fact would never support signs like the one being discussed and identify as feminists. I am aware that there are measures taken to keep students safe, and that there are students at SRU, in Greek Life and not in Greek Life, that would never hurt another person. However, this does not excuse the sign as an “anomaly,” two years does not make the sign irrelevant, and this is something that NEEDS to be talked about. Present tense, and whether some people have graduated or not.

Kevin Squires

SRU Alumnus Class of 2015

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