When we make rape a joke, who’s the punchline?


CNN, The Huffington Post, Fox and even Rolling Stone have all in some capacity latched on to the latest scandal to hit the Millennial generation: sexual assault and, more specifically, sexual assault as it occurs on college campuses.

It’s a controversial topic, and it’s tricky to talk about depending on what your views are. The one thing it isn’t, unfortunately, is black and white. Sexual assault and rape can be quite the gray area, especially in the justice system. It could easily be said that sexual offenses are one of the harder crimes to prove, let alone convict. In a perfect world this wouldn’t be the case but, realistically, those who feel they’ve been violated face a challenge. As a 23-year-old college female this is not something I’m happy to admit. Implementing justice is a concrete staple in American history and ideology. But with this specific issue, some feel it could be handled more swiftly and abruptly. Others feel it is blatantly ignored, and an immediate solution is far from clear.

What is clear is the need for Generation Y to develop a sense of personal responsibility and obligation to what has become a statistic for the Millennials that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice special report, female college students report 20 percent of rape and sexual assault victimizations to the police, while 80 percent are likely to go unreported. Whether you sympathize with the victims or feel generally indifferent about the accused, college rape and sexual assault cases are contributing to a negative image for Millennials, college-enrolled or not. Which is why witticism towards such a serious statistic should not be taken lightly. It’s a field day for the press when we as young people show our slight lack of concern and maturity for consequential issues.

Take the University of Tennessee student Alexander P. Broughton, who in 2012, was hospitalized for severe intoxication after supposedly using an alcohol enema, commonly referred to as “butt-chugging.” The Pi Kappa Alpha member was said to have a blood alcohol level “well over” .4.

We also have the Clemson University students in South Carolina, who gained nation-wide attention for a gang-themed party, where participants imitated the infamous Crips. And let’s not forget the chant that went viral, “There will never be a n—– in SAE!”

And now we have rape and rape humor to add to the list of bad behavior that needs explaining.

It’s unfortunate because the actions of a few are not a fair and proper representation of what I believe to be the majority of young college students, specifically when it comes to Greek Life. The presence of fraternities and sororities on college campuses is abundant; MTSU houses over ten different Greek organizations itself. But, these organizations can sometimes be seen as hypocritical to their core values, beliefs, and creeds. To my understanding, a common purpose among Greek society is to bring students together with the intentions of developing a better sense of community, character and accountability.

Overall, Greek life should provide students with the tools to meet new people, thrive on campus and acquire the skills needed to better succeed in the real world. But, to a non-fraternity or sorority student, the campus Greek houses might only seem like a good place to drink, play beer pong and possibly get laid. Such presumptions might not be too far from reality. The stereotype of binge drinking and womanizing actions has always been apart of fraternity and sorority history and, therefore, their identity. Even in films, Greek life is largely portrayed as a lifestyle of boozing and schmoozing: “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” “Old School,” “Neighbors,” etc. The list goes on and on. But, matter-of-factly, Greek institutions offer more than the assumptions listed above, and to be fair, not all are alike.

Not every fraternity or frat brother finds it funny to publicly joke about the vulnerability of an 18-year-old freshmen girl, especially when Vanderbilt University is dealing with their own rape case an hour away in Nashville. Likewise, not all sororities or sorority sisters want their members to be exclusively blonde, white, and skinny (University of Alabama Sorority, Alpha Phi, was recently criticized for the homogeneous recruitment video). It’s not fair to judge many based on the decisions of a few.

With that said, it is fair to hold Greek institutions to a higher standard, mainly because they take an oath pledging to be outstanding pillars in their campus community. In a way, fraternities and sororities could be viewed as something of a moral compass on a college campus. With that in mind, members of Greek life should take campus rape and sexual assault with utmost seriousness, instead of allowing it to be used as a joke to display on a banner.

Fraternity brothers and sorority sisters are campus leaders for some students. Personal responsibility and an obligation to create a safer campus environment should begin with those involved in Greek life. There needs to be a sense of encouragement for college people to obtain a more mature outlook on having fun, and that maturity should start with how we think of sex. Drunk and wasted is more than likely cutting sexual enjoyment in half.

Besides, a more mature attitude might be what separates anyone and everyone from a rape case or sexual assault charge, whether boy OR girl.

For more opinion editorials, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @MTSUSidelines

To contact Editor-in-Chief Meagan White, email editor@mtsusidelines.com 

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1 Comment

  1. TWard
    December 2, 2015
    Reply

    Sexual assault on college campuses across the nation is an epidemic going back for decades. Recently, light has been shed over the issues and more victims are coming forwards are reporting their stories while encouraging others to do the same. As a college-aged female, it is a constant concern to walk anywhere at night and I constantly have to have my guard up. Unfortunately, universities are not stepping up to the plate to really prevent these assaults, I personally am not aware of any instant 911 emergency stations located anywhere in my regular route between my classes or my dorm room. Simple steps could be taken to prevent or at least ensure a quick response to an attack. Although I often see campus patrol cars around campus during the day, I rarely see that at night which would also happen to be the time of the highest occurrences for an attack. Greek life should also be under and more intense spotlight because many of these horrific attacks are related to Greek organizations in one way or another. MTSU, while a fine institution needs to talk about rape and campus and make an effort to connect with students in a way that would allow a victim to come forward.

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