Crisis on Fraternity Row

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by Eliza Gray,

from TIME Magazine,

A scandal at the University of Virginia raises new concerns about the role of Greek life in college sexual assaults.

Mr. Jefferson’s university took center stage at a critical moment in the roiling national debate about rape on college campuses. This has been a year of reckoning for America’s institutions of higher learning, with so many developments that TIME devoted its May 26 cover to the subject. Some 90 schools, including UVa, are under investigation by the Department of Education for mishandling sexual-assault cases. Many more have overhauled their misconduct policies in an attempt to avoid a similar fate.

Since the Obama Administration began its campaign against campus sex assault in 2011, schools have responded by launching peer-awareness programs, tightening disciplinary procedures and beefing up support staff for survivors. But the circumstances surrounding the horrific allegations at UVa are casting light on a part of the problem that has gotten far less attention: the role that fraternities can play in creating a climate for sexual assault. At many schools, frats are the hub of campus social life–which means they’re also a center for the binge drinking and codified social structures that experts say fuel the assault problem. Research shows that more than three-quarters of sexual-assault victims were incapacitated at the time of the attack. Truly getting a handle on assault, these advocates argue, means confronting the reality that fraternities are often a primary, if unintentional, enabler.

“You can’t prioritize a group over an epidemic,” says Andrea Pino, a 2014 graduate of the University of North Carolina and a co-founder of End Rape on Campus. “Unless you want to say rape is part of tradition, you need to start to correct that behavior.”

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