The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted to North by Northwestern and does not necessarily reflect the views of its editorial board.
Dear freshman boys of Northwestern,
You’ve probably been hearing a lot about the Greek community lately. On one hand, you have probably been meeting a lot of cool, interesting people who are in fraternities and going to parties and having a good time. On the other, you have glanced at and maybe even read the articles about SAE being investigated and now returning next fall. This can be really confusing, and for most of you, you have decided that rushing SAE would be a bad idea. Thank you for coming to that conclusion.
But that’s not enough.
SAE getting caught doesn’t mean any of the other frats are less problematic and systemically fraught with toxic sexism and dated views of sexual assault and consent. Now, I’m not going to tell you not to rush. I won’t because many of you will stop reading this immediately. I was involved in Greek life myself, although I am no longer affiliated. There are positives about the community and I can’t deny the allure that it all has. And again, you have probably met tons of individuals who are incredible people and members of the Greek community. I cannot deny these facts, and I won’t tell you to do something that will end up being unproductive. Not rushing won’t change anything, mostly because people will still rush and the people who care about change won’t be there to make a difference. So, here’s what I have for you instead.
That’s it. Freshman boys, I want you to ask questions when you go to frats and mingle with the members. Ask them if they have consent training. Ask them if they have protocol for when a guest or a member is too drunk. Ask them if they talk about the dangers of being a bystander, and how to step in when they see a brother taking advantage of someone who is too inebriated to consent. Ask them, because do you want to unknowingly be part of an organization that lets this shit happen? You shouldn’t want to be. And these charming, cool guys that you meet will show their true colors through these questions: if they squirm and skirt around the answer, you’ll know who they really are.
Here’s the part where I implore you to think about the women in your life. Your mothers. Your sisters. Your female friends. Your non-binary hallmates. Your LGBTQ+ classmates. But it shouldn’t have to be someone you know for you to care. You should care about protecting the people in this community regardless.
I’m a senior. I could look the other way right now, wipe my hands of this whole thing, and graduate without caring about the community I leave behind. But I can’t, because I was raped my sophomore year of college. Northwestern is supposed to be my community, but it hasn’t felt that way for a long time now. The least I can do is try to take it back for the women, non-binary, trans and many more identities who come after me.
So, give it some thought. I hope you’ve enjoyed college so far – I really mean that. And I hope you make choices that allow everyone to enjoy it as much as you.
Aiden Fisher, School of Communication senior