From Charlottesville to Stanford, sexual assault on college campuses has become nationwide news. Administrators, students and experts alike have weighed in on how to prevent sexual misconduct and how to increase safety on campus, particularly for college women. One suggestion that recently caught attention was to allow sororities to host parties.
While permitting the female Greeks to throw their own ragers could very well reduce the grave issue plaguing colleges, sorority parties could do even more to positively shift the social schemas of schools. It would be monumental. Historical even.
Pinot grigio fills printed wine glasses, girls chat in small groups or have already taken to subtle dancing and boys begin trickling through the front door. Empty-handed, the men ask where they can score a beer. Flip-cup games ensue, then some beer-pong. Men – of all fraternities – mingle with the sorority women. On their own turf.
Unfortunately, a number of factors are currently at play prohibiting women in Greek life from hosting these types of events and sharing the social responsibility with men. Namely, sororities pay for different insurance coverage in exchange for not serving alcohol, and tradition perpetuates the idea that strictly men should take charge of the social scene.
“Anecdotally, here at UR, the women expect it of the men,” said Meg Pevarski, assistant director of Greek life, regarding the social dependency on fraternities.
But sororities could host their own private events, Pevarski said, as long as it's “at either a third party venue or a licensed third party vendor is serving alcohol.”
How about the above-described house party? That calls for new insurance policies, increasing dues and a willingness to shoulder the risk of hosting events with alcohol.
However, women would be willing to shift their monetary commitments and increase their attentiveness in event planning. And it’s definitely worth further discussion.
Distributing party-hosting abilities could create a positive change in the social fabric of college campuses. It would broaden social options and solve problems of exclusivity, alleviate issues related to the dependency women have on men to party and even offer fraternities the chance to unload some of the social burden.
It’s no secret that Greek life draws invisible lines between organizations and its members. When each fraternity hosts its own, separate event, it deters brothers from exploring other fraternity's parties. Sorority parties could prove helpful in dissolving these cliques, especially on Richmond’s campus. If sororities opened their doors, it would call for a new arranging of people. In the same way that sorority sisters divide and conquer across Fraternity Row, different fraternity members would assemble at one sorority party, encouraging more inter-frat friendships.
What’s more? Fraternities could take a breather every once and a while by sharing the social burden with their female counterparts.
“We wouldn’t have to plan as many events and orchestrate all the risk all the time if sororities had parties,” said Michael Stravach, a junior and a member of Sigma Chi.
“I think it would definitely lessen the burden,” said Michael Sawitsky, a senior and a member of Kappa Alpha Order. "Right now, we bear 100 percent of the burden, paying more for everyone else to enjoy the weekend.”
Some students don’t join Greek organizations for exactly these reasons. At Richmond, fraternity and sorority members don’t live in houses, and yet there still exists unnecessary division. At universities where Greek houses are a living option, this division is exponentially worse.
Sorority parties could add diversity to the weekend schedule and simultaneously add much-needed diversity to the student body.
In addition, and also worth touching on, is “home-court advantage”: women drinking in their own house or at a party they are responsible for hosting, with all of their sorority sisters. It instantaneously creates an environment where women feel less pressure: less pressure to drink excessively, less pressure to dress provocatively.
“Having frats totally run the social scene can be dangerous,” said Katie Mogul, a senior and member of Kappa Alpha Theta.
“I think [having sororities host parties] would make the social scene safer and more fun.”
It wouldn’t be a simple, overnight change to disrupt a longstanding college tradition. Much work would be required in the way of finances, risk management training, building experience and more.
“Less than five insurance companies nationwide are willing to insure Greek life organizations,” Pevarski said. This is an obvious hurdle that would need to be cleared, but not necessarily an impossible one.
Moreover, women would have to begin adjusting to a new function in the social schematic. The challenge could be a fun one, though. As of now, sororities could start by hosting smaller events either in on-campus apartments or at third-party venues such as bars in the Fan to get a feel for the hosting role.
A final general consensus is that girls would need to learn the art of shuttling – Richmond lingo for designated driving.
“Fraternities have a good system in place for risk, and it takes a while to perfect it,” said Ryan Stastny, a senior and member of Sigma Chi.
Luckily, we have the boys here to teach us their ways.
Contact Opinion Editor Stephanie Manley at firstname.lastname@example.org