Student discusses social experiences in relation to potential sexual assault, related pressures of being in Greek life

Marisa Charpentier

The name in this story has been changed to protect the source’s identity.

Go out, have fun, be cute, meet a lot of boys. When UT junior Sarah joined a sorority her freshman year, she found these were some of the pressures she and other women in Greek life faced.

“Everyone’s going to mixers and everyone’s going to fraternity parties,” Sarah said. “It seems like everyone in your sorority is doing it, so it seems like the only thing to do.”

In a study conducted by the National Institute of Justice, nearly a quarter of the identified sexual assault victims were in a sorority. Sarah said the Greek community’s culture makes sexual assault a prevalent issue within this group.

“I feel like at fraternity parties, there’s a bigger chance of being sexually assaulted because you’re surrounded by all of these people that you don’t know,” Sarah said. “There’s so much room for uncertainty.”

Throughout her own experiences maneuvering the crowded spaces and dance floors, Sarah said she has noticed it’s difficult for partygoers to keep track of how much alcohol they are consuming.

“There’s Everclear, so you can’t taste how much alcohol is in their punch,” Sarah said. “You don’t know how much is ever too much. That makes it pretty easy to go too far.”

In an attempt to prevent sexual assault, Sarah said UTPD gives her sorority a safety class that discusses the topic, and all new members undergo an alcohol awareness and sexual safety program. She said the sisters themselves have their own prevention system. When they go to events where alcohol is involved, many go in groups and stick together.

“If you go with a group, and you don’t leave with the group, then something’s off,” Sarah said.While she has no personal experience with sexual assault, Sarah said one of her friends at UT has been assaulted by another UT student. She said even if students haven’t had a personal experience, they at least know someone who has.

“I feel like if you know someone personally whose life has been impacted by sexual assault, you will be much more likely to watch out for other girls,” Sarah said. “Just knowing that it’s real and not just hearing statistics really helps.”