Student speaks out against negative reputation of Greek life in regards to sexual assault

Marisa Charpentier

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

UT sophomore Michael has seen the news articles denouncing fraternities across the nation for sexual assault allegations. He knows what people think. He knows people say fraternity members only want one thing: to take advantage of girls. 

“I’m not going to deny the fact that there have been bad things that have happened, but I do think Greek life is targeted, and it’s difficult because our intent is not anything bad,” Michael said. “It is just a brotherhood. We’re just trying to find common interest with other people and create friendships.”

Throughout his two years in a UT fraternity, Michael said he’s noticed a negative trend in the media. When universities anywhere from Virginia to Montana are in the spotlight for sexual assault issues, fraternities everywhere earn a bad reputation.

“Because we are all part of a group, and we all identify with our group, if one person does something it’s easy to deductively say it’s the entire group’s fault,” Michael said.

During each semester, Michael said the national level of his fraternity, the alumni association, the Dean of Students and the fraternity’s own student leaders lead seminars and discussions about sexual assault. He said his brothers look out for each other at parties and events. 

“You’re out with your friends and someone’s drinking a lot, and they’re severely impaired,” Michael said. “We’ll go up to them and say, ‘You need to call it a night because you’re getting into a risky situation.’”

When someone accuses a member of Michael’s fraternity of sexual assault, the organization expels him from the group. Michael said the fraternity members recognize this standard.

“There is absolutely zero tolerance for it in fraternities,” Michael said. “Fraternity members understand the consequence of these actions.”

Although he does not think fraternities should always be in the spotlight when it comes to this issue, Michael said that doesn’t mean sexual assault does not happen. 

“It comes down to the individual in the end,” Michael said. “It’s their personal decision. Making sure everyone knows what constitutes sexual assault and what is not acceptable is important.”