Who is going to hold Greek life accountable?


Graphic by Emmanuelle Maher

Julia Maenius

This semester, the UTSA athletic department has instated the Brenda Tracy Rule, an agreement to hold athletes accountable for sexual assault and other serious misconduct inquires.

While the implementation of the Tracy Rule in the athletic department has provided an accountibility policy for athletes, the sexual assault initiative is missing from possibly one of the most crucial groups on campuses around the nation: Greek life.

According to a statistic from Campus Safety Magazine, “fraternity men have been identified as being more likely to perpetrate sexual assault or sexual aggression than non-fraternity men,” and “students living in sorority houses and on-campus dormitories are three times and 1.4 times (respectively) more likely to be raped than students living off-campus.”

Most college freshmen enter their first semester believing the same stereotype that has, unfortunately, oftentimes proven to be true — fraternities are hubs for sexual assault. The fact that most Greek life organizations at UTSA have not signed a sexual assault misconduct accountability pledge only adds to the constantly growing stigma.

Taking a step in the right direction, the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) chapter at UTSA has begun working with Brenda Tracy to sign the #SetTheExpectation Fraternity and Sorority Life Pledge. If one fraternity is going to step up and admit to the pressing issue of sexual assault affiliated with Greek life, then why haven’t the rest of the fraternities and sororities done the same?

The Fraternity and Sorority Life Pledge found on the #SetTheExpectation website provides insight to the set of rules the potential perpetrators will abide by, but this document does not legally bind the signatory to their words. The legitimacy of signing this document is parallel to the binding characteristics of a New Year’s resolution. Additionally, the boxes to check are vague and do not give the signatory a clear set of rules to abide by.

The vocabulary used in the pledge, “I pledge to be responsible with alcohol,” is the most obvious statement for people over the age of 12 who know about the effects of excessive drinking. Perhaps the most ambiguous statement in the entire contract is, “I understand that ‘no means no’ and only ‘yes means yes,’” as these claims fail to be placed in the specific context of consent and sexual violence.

The Fraternity and Sorority Life Pledge is the first step in the right direction for members of Greek life, but the lack of repercussions in the case of breaking the pledge and the vague vocabulary used does not hold those members to the high expectations surrounding the issue of sexual assault. Fiji is the only Greek life organization on campus that has taken any steps in the right direction, but even their steps are unsubstantial. If we expect Greek life to break the stigma of sexual violence that surrounds them, then we should hold their pledge accountable in a way that has real consequences when violated.