Wall Street Journal Discusses Dartmouth Greek Life

Dartmouth's fraternities are in the media again.

Dartmouth’s fraternities are in the media again.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Douglas Belkin prominently featured Dartmouth and its Greek system within a discussion of nationwide attitudes towards affiliated life and campus sexual assault. Specifically, Mr. Belkin mentioned President Hanlon’s “enough is enough” speech and the upcoming recommendations from the Presidential Steering Committee. He also included an inevitable “abolish the Greek system” sentiment from Theater Professor Peter Hackett.

Unfortunately, as with most of the recent literature attempting to link the Greek system’s existence with sexual assault, this article misses the core of the issue. The main problem at Dartmouth and other schools with regard to sexual assault is not that there is a rape culture in which fraternity membership turns otherwise well-intentioned young men into animals who attack young women in moments of alcohol-fueled spontaneity. Rather, statistics show that there are a small number of genuine sexual predators who take advantage of a drinking-focused social scene to assault intoxicated and unsuspecting women again and again. It is these individuals who are responsible for the vast majority of these incidents on campuses.

While the Dartmouth Greek system certainly has its share of issues to be addressed, the notion that abolishing Greek life will dramatically reduce sexual assaults and high-risk drinking is unfounded. The reality of today’s culture is that a significant proportion of college-aged people enjoy consuming alcohol as a part of socializing. Eliminating the Greek system would simply force this drinking (and the sexual predators who take advantage of it) into other social venues. The real way to address sexual assault is for college administrations to enlist fraternities as allies in identifying and removing the true sexual predators from campuses and in making drinking venues and social events as safe as possible for those who attend.

Click here to read Mr. Belkin’s piece in the Wall Street Journal.