Virginia Wesleyan College Fraternity Asserts Women’s Rights and Equality
In recent years, instances of rape on campus and the prevalence of campus rape culture has come into mainstream consciousness. Fraternities, generally speaking, are the most common examples of rape culture that permeates American college campuses, and the assumption is that most fraternities—if not all—are hotbeds of misogyny and the worst examples of campus rape culture.
Our fears were confirmed when earlier this week, fraternity members of Sigma Nu at Virginia’s Old Dominion University hung impossibly sexist and misogynistic banners from their off-campus house. These banners read, “Rowdy and Fun, Hope Your Baby Girl Is Ready For A Good Time,” as well as, “Freshman Daughter Drop Off,” and “Go Ahead And Drop Mom Off Too.”
Clearly, this is not a good sign.
Fortunately, the fraternity in question is now on interim suspension, and the president of the university, John Broderick, released a statement condemning the acts of the fraternity brothers and calling attention to these pervasive, harmful and disgusting sexually aggressive practices:
I said at my State of the University address that there is zero tolerance on this campus for sexual assault and sexual harassment. This incident will be reviewed immediately by those on campus empowered to do so. Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.
Broderick was also shocked and spurred to action when he spoke to one young female student whom he said talked about “going home” right after she saw the offensive banners that were an obvious incident of sexual harassment.
However, despite this above example of misogyny on campus, one fraternity in Virginia is asserting that not all frats are cut from the same cloth, and it’s heartening to see, to say the very least.
At Virginia Wesleyan College, the fraternity Sigma Nu is writing their own banners in support of the female community and using signs like the He For She symbol to bolster their message. Their signs read, “Rowdy and fun? Nah…RESPECT AND FIDELITY” and “HONOR AND EQUALITY.”
The fraternity brothers condemned the actions of their brothers of a different chapter, and posted the photos of their banners to Facebook with the caption, “In response to current events the Iota Beta chapter has made its own signs in defense of the values of our great fraternity.”
“The values of Sigma Nu are love, honor and truth,” they continued. “The Iota Beta Chapter lives by those values every day and we are proud of that.”
These recent developments are certainly a step in the right direction, but they’re unfortunately not enough to combat the widespread sexual assault and rape culture problems that continue to plague campuses in America, especially those with an active Greek life.
However, I’m glad to see these fraternity brothers adopting the He For She symbol, an organization targeted specifically for men to adopt issues that feminism usually champions, and to support women in our endeavors for equality, mutual respect and understanding, and lessening sexism around the world.
As Emma Watson said, “No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.” Maybe we can change that in our lifetimes.