Kavanaugh’s scandals shed light on college fraternity problems


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By Daria Burnley

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is the Supreme Court nominee who has recently faced a Senate judiciary committee hearing after three accusations of sexual assault or misconduct surfaced against him, detailing violent and disrespectful behavior towards women during his college and high school years.

Who Kavanaugh was during his college years and who he is now reflects the issue colleges have faced since the 1950s, and has been in the mainstream limelight ever since. The problem of college fraternity rape culture has pervaded American society for decades.

Of course, not all rapes occur within fraternities. This opinion has no intention to contribute to the “all men” rhetoric; however, it’s ignorant to not know and understand that many American fraternities are in part built in secrecy, brotherhood, and a grandiose sense of entitled traits that when combined allow for rape and sexual misconduct to be rampant and even integrated into the very principles of the frat.

Let’s look at Brett Kavanaugh’s alma mater, Yale. Specifically, let’s take it back to the 1980s. According to an article from the New Yorker, the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity that Kavanaugh was a part of, although declining in relevance, was known as the white football frat: rowdy, drunk, and entitled. Members were infamous for over-drinking and leering at women. In one instance, a member carried a flag loosely fashioned out of women’s lingerie, which was supposedly made out of lingerie taken with consent from one woman; however, a majority of the lingerie was taken by students ransacking women’s dorms while they were away in class.

Time has become the worst enemy of a sexual assault victim on campus. The future of a higher education and career afterward holds a criminal report hostage. As schools waiver on the possibility of ruining a man’s chances at either of the above or victims fear losing the same. It’s the same shadow of the doubt that sways juries or judges as seen with the case of Brock Turner. The crime of rape has been handled in the most gray of areas, combined with the high stakes of a ruined future, charging or even convicting sexually violent criminals in the American legal system is slim to none.

Victims of sexual assault on college campuses live in an environment that does not treat a victim of assault or allow proper reporting of crimes of a sexually violent nature. According to the RAIN institute, 20 percent of college rape victims report to the police compared to the 32 percent of non-student rape victims. Administration and campus security are oftentimes ill-equipped or pressured by the reputation of the school or rapist in question to properly pursue reports of assaults.

It’s a dangerous machine, the stereotypical American fraternity. The aura and image it has maintained have allowed for the devaluation of a person’s character. Entitlement extends towards to the female body or anyone deemed “weaker.” People who join notorious frats are at risk of losing personal accountability and with the complicity of some administration, fraternities have cultured a system where sexual violence against women is instituted as another brick that has built their animal house. To put it simply as one defender of Kavanaugh’s character stated: “What boy hasn’t done this?”

 

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Kavanaugh’s scandals shed light on college fraternity problems”

  1. Rähn Sækerr on October 18th, 2018 7:55 pm

    This article, from what I see, has a very good understanding of the world and how fraternities, sexual assault, and the criminal justice system all tie in together. This article wasn’t over-the-top and yet it wasn’t hollow either. You never said college fraternities caused rape; instead you said they were built with “…entitled traits that when combined allow for rape and sexual misconduct to be rampant…” Sure, it may still be a stretch, but I’m glad you didn’t fall prey to the mindset that frats constitute directly for rape: a mindset very widespread when it comes to this topic. You also even showed concern for those who may be falsely accused of sexual assault, and in that sense, you looked at both sides of the coin. I do agree that among the ones guilty of sexual assault and those that are falsely accused nearly get the same treatment, since almost no evidence can ever be provided for such cases, and you acknowledged that either way, their life gets absolutely ruined by the backlash that comes from the side of the accusation. I do really agree with most of the points presented in the article and I think you truly understood the problem sexual assault causes, its origins, and its sudden recoils. I applaud you for this.

    Sincerely,
    Rähn Sækerr

  2. A film student on October 23rd, 2018 8:53 am

    This is highly sensitive material to write about; but you summed it up best with your quote, “sexual violence against women is instituted as another brick that has built their animal house.” The bricks have built the frat house, and tearing them down is hard when you don’t have a sledge hammer; in the form of the law. It is kind of hard to fight the “Animal House” frat system, and the people that have been crushed in the process are now just ‘coming out of the woodwork.’ Bravos to those brave few.

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Kavanaugh’s scandals shed light on college fraternity problems