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A Call for Systemic Change: Prevention Programming, Alcohol, and College Culture

May 2, 2016

Content Warning: This article discusses sexual assault. 

This is an opinion piece, all views expressed within it are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Thrill.

Via photobucket

This week’s Title IX discussion has largely focused on the deficiencies of both Kenyon’s sexual misconduct policy and the legislation itself. While we’re making important strides in these conversations, we need to focus more efforts on the area where we, the students, can affect perhaps the most significant change: prevention programming. 

Kenyon’s attempt to address sexual assault in its prevention programming and policies is halfhearted and eschews real action. It focuses largely on tea and clear communication. A popular Youtube video shown by the Title IX office to UCCs among other college employees and associates holds that “consent is as simple as tea.” While this video is meant to be a light hearted stab at simplifying consent, its humor is misplaced. Consent is anything but funny, and it is a gross oversimplification to analogize it to an exchange regarding tea. More broadly, focusing programming on quick, digestible content (like videos about consent and placing condoms on bananas) is problematic, and like the tea video, it is a vulgar reduction of sexual encounters and the factors that precede them.

To elucidate this point further, we need to examine the role of alcohol on college campuses, Kenyon’s party policy, and subcultures of misogyny.

I. Kenyon Students and Alcohol

Alcohol is complicated to say the least. Researchers have established two important determinations that should be taken into consideration:

  1. Alcohol’s physical effects (namely that it is a depressant) are fairly universal
  2. Alcohol’s ’emotional’ effects are not.

In other words, the way we act when we’re drunk is learned and largely informed by cultural expectations. Our culture instantiates ‘scripts’ in us that apply to sex and alcohol consumption among other things. These are “the collective guides—the syntax and understandings of roles and performance—presented to individuals by their cultural group and which individuals assimilate, reinterpret, and internalize.” The ways we consume alcohol and the ways we have sex figure into a larger, cultural narrative about what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘acceptable’ drinking and ‘good’ and ‘acceptable’ sex.

Researchers call it a ‘time out’ when alcohol is used as (and accepted by others as) an excuse for transgressing norms. In college, where students are not subjected to the same kinds of legal repercussions as in the ‘real world,’ an alcoholic ‘time out’ is a legitimate excuse for a variety poor behaviors. When American college students drink, they break objects and rules (see any given Village Record), while individuals in other cultures (and even other schools) respond to alcohol in vastly different ways.

Additionally, at Kenyon (and other American universities) drinking is a sacred, glorified act. Time out(s) happen two to three times per week. Drinking has become a central part of the national account of ‘what college is all about’, with drunkenness and drunken behavior acting as an initiation of sorts.

Drinking is also part of Kenyon’s social order. How much you can drink, how often you drink, where you drink, and with whom you drink is meaningful social information for Kenyon students. Withholding one’s participation in drinking is also significant to Kenyon students. Many do not perceive it favorably and have terms that reflect this (‘indoor kids’).

Alcohol also figures prominently into Kenyon students’ hook-up culture. It is no coincidence that students (and people more generally) search for hook ups in consecrated spaces of drinking, such as bars. This doesn’t have to be, and frequently is not, a bad thing. One scholar writes: “Getting wasted is fun, as is hooking up. In today’s campus hookup culture, alcohol and sex often go together, and both can be rewarding experiences for young adults.”Alcohol also has the favorable effect of reducing social anxiety, which can make seeking out consensual sex an easier, less anxiety wrought experience.

Because of its significance in college culture, alcohol is a hot commodity and a particularly scarce one at that for students under 21. “Age 21-laws” foster an unsafe and uncertain college environment–a feature of college culture that administrators and prevention programmers fail to address (and sometimes legally cannot). As a result, one scholar argues, “Alcohol becomes a coveted commodity, with many students seeking access to it and fortunate others wielding control of it.” Age 21-laws fail to deter underage drinkers from reaping the social benefits of alcohol (72% of students consume alcohol by the end of high school) and instead make drinking more secretive, and thus more dangerous.

In short, there are three takeaways:

  1. Kenyon students like to drink.
  2. The decision to drink or to not drink is a conscious decision, which conveys a calculated social message.
  3. Underage students do drink and will continue to drink regardless of party policies and laws.

II. Party Policy

Despite its congenial qualities, alcohol consumption is positively correlated with sexual misconduct. According to the 2015 Kenyon HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey, 75.8% of victims of sexual assault at Kenyon reported that their assailant had consumed alcohol. 60.6% of victims reported that they had consumed alcohol when the assault occurred.

There is no biological determinant for the actions of the intoxicated. That alcohol is implicated in sexual assault indicates that it is because assailants capitalize on its allowance for ‘time out’ to violate rights and rules. At its core, sexual assault is a cultural problem, a systemic problem, a misogyny problem, that interacts with alcohol. It is not caused by alcohol.

Despite this knowledge, Kenyon and other colleges and universities treat alcohol as the cause of sexual assault. One scholar argues that this blame is sorely misplaced:

“Given the connection between intoxication and sexual assault, many ask, “Why not just tell women not to get so drunk?” But a mindset that places responsibility on women ignores the widespread attitudes and practices that encourage men’s sexual predation and victimization of women in the first place. To be clear, drinking, by itself, does not lead to sexual assault. Drinking heavily makes women more vulnerable, but it is overwhelmingly men who take advantage and rape. It is also men who stand by and watch their male friends ply women with drinks, block women from leaving rooms, and sometimes gang-rape women too drunk to walk home. Equipping women with ‘watch your drink, stay with your friends’ strategies ignores both the fun of partying with abandon and the larger structures of domination that lead men to feel entitled to (drunk) women’s bodies.”

We must tackle these “larger structures of domination” next, while examining Kenyon’s alcohol policy and the way it interacts with them.

Attending college puts women at an increased risk for completed or attempted sexual assault, and at Kenyon, 60.6% of victims were assaulted during their first year. This, perhaps, does not come as a surprise, but to understand this statistic I believe we need to take a closer look at campus culture and the ways in which underage (particularly first year) students make contact with alcohol.

Kenyon’s party policy engages in a number of practices that promote ‘underground’ drinking, including designating 1st year dorms as ‘alcohol free spaces’ and limiting the days, times, and numbers of parties that students are allowed to register. Kenyon employees, including Community Advisors, and formerly, even higher ups such as the Associate Dean of Students, send students mixed messaging. After outlining the formal party policy, they lean in and drop their voices: “Look, we’re know you’re going to drink. We know you’re going to smoke. Just don’t get caught.”

Just don’t get caught–this we take seriously. In the 2014 Kenyon College Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there were only 16 arrests  (1% of 1600 students) made on campus for liquor law violations during 2014. There were 140 persons referred for disciplinary action ( 8.75% of 1600 students). Though there is no available data about alcohol consumption rates among Kenyon students, from these statistics and empirical observation, it is logical to assume that more than 10% drink.

To be clear, College policies also negatively affect students of age. Students ‘pregame’ because, in accordance with party policy, they know that they will have limited opportunities to obtain alcohol once they leave their residences. For example, at last weekend’s Summer SendOff, the college limited 21 year olds to just 5 drinks (beer or cider only) for which they had to pay. While most students consuming alcohol pregame every social event, the fact that the College both limited and charged for drinks reinforced and augmented students’ desire to pregame before entering the party. And they did.  At least two students were hospitalized on Sendoff for alcohol related maladies.

These practices fail to deter students from drinking, and instead compel them to ‘get creative’ and find less safe, more secretive circumstances which become “party scenes that sociological research has shown to be productive of sexual danger for women.”

III. All-male Spaces

I would like to return briefly to a discussion of underage drinking. As a first year student, I learned that parties open to me (and thus sources of alcohol) were almost exclusively the domain of fraternities and sports teams, and to a much lesser extent sororities. This is troubling for a number of reasons. First, these spaces often operate ‘below ground,’ which as intimated above, puts women at higher risk for sexual assault.

Secondly, sanctified all-male spaces contribute to sexual misconduct and to misogyny. Sociologist Michael Messner writes,

Recipe for sexual assault: Assemble a group of young men. Promise them glory for violently dominating other groups of young men. Bond the group with aggressive joking about the sexual domination of women.

While Messner’s quote is undeniably provocative, it is supported by evidence. He writes that “research by sociologist Todd Crosset since the 1990s has shown that men who play intercollegiate sports are more likely than non-athletes to commit sexual assault.” Likewise, an Ohio University study concluded that fraternity men are three times more likely to rape than non-members. It was the third study to do so.

Why? Because, once again, alcohol does not cause sexual assault. It is a systemic problem. It’s a misogyny problem. It’s a problem of institutionalized sexism that is perpetuated by the presence of sanctified all-male spaces such as fraternities and athletic teams. According to Messner, sexism “is routinely intertwined with male entitlement and celebratory violence”–things intrinsic to the status of athletes, brothers, and the alumni that fund their continuity, and sports practice and hazing. Likewise, he writes that “high status male groups—like sports teams and fraternities—layer protective silence around members who perpetrate violence against women.”

Despite the affirmation of these statistics by studies year after year, all-male spaces are accepted and remain largely unchallenged by Kenyon and the other collegiate institutions in which they exist. Not once have we discussed disbanding fraternities. Not once have we discussed the cultures of athletic teams. Only very infrequently do we discuss that Kenyon grudgingly admitted women less than 50 years ago.

Instead, we say that Kenyon is different. Its fraternities are different. Its athletic teams are different. Its men, well, they’re different. Kenyon is not different. The number of sexual assaults that take place on Kenyon’s campus mirror the national average.

I do not wish to point fingers at individuals. I have many friends in fraternities. Most men will not rape, but we know that exclusively male organizations produce members who rape at three times the rate of other men. And to do nothing with that knowledge is a crime.

It is unacceptable that Kenyon continues to eschew reforming or eliminating these organizations, but it is not surprising. People in power have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and the status quo everywhere is chock full of sexism, misogyny, and normalized violence against women. Recall the #RespectfulDifference campaign which followed the vandalization of the Crozier Center for Women just before Take Back the Night last year. The campaign responded to the incident by encouraging the community to respect the opinions of others. An act of vandalism, hate, and misogyny is not an opinion. It is a crime, a social ill, and, a rights issue. But the community and the administration were only willing to talk about tolerance. And when we prioritize tolerance over rights and safety, we normalize violence.

Before Kenyon makes any real changes, it will likely hold more forums where silent adult audience members shake their heads and scowl at the student speakers making themselves vulnerable. It will cry for input from the students who are here to study in safety, more than 9.8% of which they have already failed. It will bring in external investigators who will find nothing, because the legislation is flawed. It will let student campaigns for change fall to the wayside for 17 more years.

And then, it will return to telling prospective families that Kenyon is different.

In short, this article was meant to encourage readers to see the systemic changes that must take place before we can hope to see the decline of rates of sexual assault. While this article has been largely critical in nature, I would like to suggest the below reforms:

Party Policy Reforms:

  • Allow anyone of any age to register a small gathering
  • Do not limit the dates on which small gatherings can be registered
  • Dispose of the ‘alcohol free space’ status of first-year residences. That “Wellness housing” exists within first-year dorms is an implicit acknowledgement that underage students consume alcohol and other substances. This should be made explicit and dealt with openly. This would not deter students wishing to live in housing free of alcohol and other substances from choosing to live in Wellness housing.
  • Transparency; students realize the College must comply with Ohio laws, but because the party policy frequently changes, we do not have a grasp on the parameters by which our party policies are restricted.

Other Reforms: 

  • Eliminate Greek Life, or tell all organizations go to co-ed or get out.
  • Develop ongoing prevention programming specifically for athletic teams.
  • First year programming must be more serious and spread out throughout the year. Students need to have a complete grasp on what constitutes sexual misconduct both legally in the state of Ohio and under Title IX. Likewise, programming needs to focus on debunking common rape myths that perpetuate assault and prevent survivors from reporting.
  • Kenyon’s sexual misconduct policy should place the burden of consent on the initiating party and it should adopt “yes means yes” as a clear statute of affirmative consent.

In closing, I would also like to address the shortcomings of this article. It is limited not only in length, but in content. This article fails to address the systemic issues that fail LBGTQ+ and male victims among others. As a heterosexual woman, I can write most accurately and firmly about my own experiences, but I do not wish to silence or ignore the voices of others. In spite of the article’s limitations, and the limitations of my own knowledge, I hope that it will be a useful contribution to the larger discussion and that it will prompt the interrogation of tough questions that have been overlooked for far too long.

Sources: 

All sources (not already linked to) that have informed this article:

Bridges Whaley, Rachel

2001    The Paradoxical Relationship Between Gender Inequality and Rape: Toward a Refined Theory.

              Gender and Society 15(4): 531-555.

Mandlebaum, David G.

1965    Alcohol and Culture. Current Anthropology 6 (3): 281-288+289-293.

 

MacAndrew, C. and Edgerton, R.B. Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation

2003    Percheron Press

 

Wade, Lisa, Brian Sweeney, Amelia Seraphia Derr, Michael A. Messner, Carol Burke

2014    Ruling Out Rape. Contexts 13 (2):16-25.

 

 

39 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2016 4:32 pm

    This article is fire. Thank you.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2016 6:00 pm

    what a well-written, comprehensive article. thank you for taking the time to write this.

  3. anon permalink
    May 2, 2016 6:02 pm

    This is an awesome article. One of the best that I’ve read written by a Kenyon student lately. Thank you.

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 2, 2016 6:22 pm

      Okay but read the article: “an Ohio University study concluded that fraternity men are three times more likely to rape than non-members. It was the third study to do so.” Your link does not refute the point that fraternity members are more likely to rape than non-members, it only claims that hypermasculinity “was generally a predictor of sexual aggression for all men except those in fraternities.” Doesn’t change the fact that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to re-evaluate the need for traditional all-male groups and spaces on campus.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2016 6:25 pm

    This is absurd. “Lets’ make alcohol more accessible, when it it proven alcohol leads to sexual assault assault. At the same time we are pushing for safe spaces for minorities and other groups, lets ban males from having their own space, because males are evil. Oh, let’s also ban fraternities, because ‘fuck you’.” I am no fan of Donald Trump, but stuff like this thinks we might need him.

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 2, 2016 6:31 pm

      ^ this

    • anon permalink
      May 2, 2016 9:44 pm

      lol you’re the reason this article is right

    • Andrew Perricone '17 permalink
      May 2, 2016 9:57 pm

      Hey friend,

      First of all, anything I say here is already well-reasoned in the article above, and I would recommend you reread what Annaliese has already explained with more clarity and skill than I can offer.

      The reason for safe spaces for “minorities and other groups” rather than for men is because the whole world is a safe space for men. It’s like why someone invented left-handed scissors–not because left handed people are more important than right handed people, but because “normal” scissors are made for right-handed people in the first place. Annaliese’s reasoning for eliminating these male spaces is not “because all males are evil,” but because the way our society is structured in general–and the way those spaces are structured specifically–fosters an environment of misogyny. Nobody is saying that men are inherently evil, just that certain social groups have collective cultures that tend toward hate.

      And if you reread Annaliese’s article and look at the studies cited, you’ll see her clear proof that alcohol does not “lead to sexual assault” as you say. Here’s a quote from Annaliese: “At its core, sexual assault is a cultural problem, a systemic problem, a misogyny problem, that interacts with alcohol. It is not caused by alcohol.” I understand the reflex to say that changing the alcohol rules as Annaliese suggests would make alcohol more accessible–that’s the thinking behind the policy in the first place. But accessibility of alcohol isn’t the problem, it’s the way that alcohol is consumed. If you’re a current student, I’d recommend talking to Professor Suggs in the anthropology department about this. He studies alcohol use and has in the past expressed the same desire to remove the ban on alcohol in first-year areas. As he and Annaliese have both said, it doesn’t stop underage students from drinking, just makes it more likely that they’ll do so in an unsafe way.

      While Annaliese’s suggestion about fraternities is certainly drastic, it’s clearly not just “because fuck you.” There’s reasoning behind it, so let’s argue with reasons rather than reactions. And finally, I’m not sure I understand what you mean about Donald Trump. If you’d like to elaborate or discuss any of these points further, you can respond here or we can talk over email.

      Best,
      Andrew Perricone, Class of 2017
      perriconea@kenyon.edu

      • anonymous permalink
        May 5, 2016 5:19 pm

        I think you make a lot of good points, but I’d like to push back a little on one thing you said. I have heard arguments along the lines of ‘the whole world is a safe space for men’, but I really think these arguments are oversimplifying what it means to be a man in a dangerous way. I would say that the world is a space where men are encouraged to be aggressive (sexually and otherwise), independent, strong, etc., but it pains me to hear this equated with a ‘safe space’. Often this is not just encouragement but expectation, and failure to live up to that expectation can take a very real social and emotional toll on a person. On top of that, men are often discouraged from expressing these struggles, making those who are suffering (in my personal experience and opinion) more likely to lash out and assert their masculinity in more primal and violent ways. The way I see it, helping young men deal with these issues by creating not just a sympathetic but an empathetic environment is a very important role of all male groups like fraternities. I think this is often overlooked or discounted particularly because of this mindset that “the world is a safe space for men, these groups must be a hotbed of misogyny and hate”. I completely agree that failing to address the statistics connecting organizations like this to rape rates is horrible, but I think that other measures can be taken to deal with these issues without denying men this very rare opportunity in life to be comfortably open about male problems and male expectations in society. This article led me to re-watch a related youtube video I saw a few years back that really resonated with me. I’m not sure how to link it, but the video is called “2006 Self Made Man: Norah Vincent…”, I think a lot of people on this campus might find it really insightful.

  5. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2016 6:48 pm

    Thank you. This is so well articulated.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2016 6:56 pm

    I don’t see how you couldn’t conclude that the college should ban (and enforce said ban) on drinking altogether. If you think that eliminating what you identify as one cause or rather, a contributing factor, to sexual misconduct–fraternities–why wouldn’t you also conclude that we should eliminate the other cause (or again, a contributing factor)? Furthermore, why should we not eliminate all-male sports teams?

  7. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2016 6:56 pm

    “eliminate greek life” yea ok sure

  8. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2016 8:45 pm

    This article raises real issues but poses unrealistic solutions, I think. I find it extremely unlikely that Kenyon would revoke the charters of Greek organizations or force them to go co-ed (if I’m correct, the main reason Wesleyan did it was to move fraternity members from an off-campus, unregulated frat house to an on-campus unit under the jurisdiction of the college). Likewise, I don’t think the Party Policy changes suggested here are very reasonable, as Kenyon still has to at least pretend to follow Ohio state law.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    May 2, 2016 10:43 pm

    “irregardless”

  10. Anonymous permalink
    May 3, 2016 3:34 am

    I really appreciate this very thoughtful and well written opinion piece.
    However, I will point out one argument that I feel is not accurate.
    I am not a member of a fraternity nor am I a fan of the concept at all, but to say that fraternities causes their members to be 3 times more likely to commit rape is not a logical argument. You have no idea about the causation for those statistics.
    It could just as well be that the idea of fraternities appeal to rapists more so than non-rapists. Meaning that if we closed down the fraternities, we could have the exact same number of rapes and rapists on our campus.

    I have not seen any research that elucidates the causation, but I encourage you and everyone who is for the closing of fraternities to find evidence in support of the statement. Otherwise it could be used against you.

    Again, thanks for your piece, I totally agree that we as students have the primary responsibility in changing the culture of alcohol consumption and its influence on sexual misconduct and rape.

  11. May 3, 2016 11:27 am

    Great article! And very thoughtful solutions. Thank you!

  12. May 3, 2016 4:13 pm

    Hi Derek –
    Sorry you had trouble posting your comment. The Thrill did not intentionally delete your original post, nor would we have had any impetus to do so. I’m glad we were able to help you with your technical difficulties!

    • Derek Foret permalink
      May 3, 2016 4:16 pm

      Wow, thanks Gracie! I never thought that’s what would have happened, and it turned out it just took a few minutes extra to post, but thanks for being so on top on things!

      • Anonymous permalink
        May 4, 2016 1:24 am

        Also, thank you for the data Derek. More data can only help.

  13. May 3, 2016 5:29 pm

    Not a Kenyon student so I cant really comment on your specific social scene and campus culture, however, my school being a similar type of institution, although around 10,000 students, has similar problems regarding sexual assault. I think that the blame is too easily shifted just towards men. Again, I don’t know what it is like at Kenyon, but way too often girls give off symbols and behavior that encourages sexual assault. Obviously no one is ever “asking for it” and to say so is absolutely ridiculous, but I very often see girls get really drunk, grind at bars with lots of random dudes, make out with multiple boys in the same night, and lead on guys because they want to have fun with them. Just like the boys, they are looking to explore their sexuality. That behavior is going to encourage and make some boys think they are entitled and especially when girls purposely where incredibly revealing, tight clothing. I know this will be considered “victim blaming” but the cause is not entirely men and until that is recognized I think nothing will change

    • AngryM permalink
      May 4, 2016 1:32 am

      It doesn’t matter what the girl is doing.
      NO ONE DESERVES TO BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.
      YOU NEVER HAVE THE RIGHT TO FORCE SEX ON SOME ONE WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.
      IF YOU DO YOU ARE A RAPIST AND A CRIMINAL.

      I don’t give a fuck if she’s teasing you. If someone’s an asshole and I kill them for it, were they “asking for it?” Huh?

      Rape has been an issue worldwide since the dawn of man. It has nothing to do with female promiscuity. Rape is most common in times of war and in violent societies. The sexual revolution didn’t change that. It just made it easier for women to report rape, and changed the way we talk about assault. Please go fucking educate yourself before you make another dumbass comment on an article about a school you don’t even go to.

  14. Anonymous permalink
    May 3, 2016 11:02 pm

    Are we forgetting Greeks were kicked off campus for a while about ten years ago?

    • student permalink
      May 3, 2016 11:20 pm

      greeks as a whole or just a specific frat?

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 3, 2016 11:38 pm

      Greeks as a whole have never been kicked off campus, ten years ago or any other time. One fraternity was put on probation in 08-09 and then was put on a half-decade’s suspension in 09-10. Other fraternities have been disciplined in various ways over the years.

  15. Anonymous permalink
    May 4, 2016 12:01 am

    We need to disband fraternities and reassess the culture of male teams because “Kenyon is no different”. Seems to lack evidence

  16. Anonymous permalink
    May 4, 2016 12:05 am

    As a member of a Greek organization I can tell you that I and my fellow members have spent a considerable amount of time actively encouraging consent education and attempting to improve this campus on the sexual misconduct front. Greek organizations can be an impetus for change when they come together and attack an issue as a community. Specifically, the Greek Council constitution amendments will be featuring new ways to educate Greek members concerning Title IX, and Greek Council will be making an active effort to put Title IX issues and consent at the forefront of their restructuring (at least, this is what I have been told by my Greek Council representative from my organization). Yes, sometimes it is helpful to look at the administration/policies and say “how can you let this happen?!?” but I assure you that the Greek community, at the student level, is dedicated to this issue as much as the rest of the college and is aware of its shortcomings. I agree with a lot of what you’ve presented here, and I agree that systemic misogyny is a plague on our society, and that fraternities specifically can encourage and include this misogyny in their traditions. However, it is a matter of culture and our Greek culture here is making some serious strides in the way that we handle sexual misconduct. Trust that we want the same thing as the rest of the college.

  17. Female Alum '14 permalink
    May 4, 2016 7:24 am

    Beautifully written. I agree with most of your points. I do want to point out that sexual assault is not going to disappear by getting rid of Greek life. Yes, I believe that groups of men who drink together (and provide alcohol to the rest of the school) may result in more sexual assaults. However, you believe that by eliminating fraternities sexual assault will disappear? There will fewer parties and therefore that may be true. But I also think we have to show respect for the oraganizations who throw campus-wide parties. The reason the blame is put in fraternities and men’s sports teams is because they are the ones who have the money and organization to throw these type of events for the school. I don’t see many other organizations throwing all-campus parties. If your argument is to get rid of all campus parties then so be it. But that is not what you said. As a member of a sorority, I whole heartedly trust my fraternity brothers/friends on Kenyon’s campus to follow the rules just as anyone else would. Let’s start with talking about the amount of alcohol consumed and the asministration’s invinvement before putting the blame on specific groups.

  18. Graeme Taylor permalink
    May 4, 2016 11:32 am

    “It will cry for input from the students who are here to study in safety, more than 9.8% of which they have already failed.”

    Source for this number?

  19. Johnny boy permalink
    May 4, 2016 12:07 pm

    Honestly think this a terrible piece of writing

  20. This is nauseating permalink
    May 4, 2016 12:18 pm

    The fact that so many men come away from this article acting as though it was written for the sole purpose of attacking Greek life for the sake of it is SO disheartening. This is an EXTENSIVE article addressing the large issue of sexual assault on college campuses. It offers SEVERAL suggestions for change, yet you harp on the frat part as though that’s a bigger problem than trying to come up with solutions to this assault epidemic. This is not a personal attack. This is so much bigger than you. I understand that there would be aversion to the suggestion of eradicating frats altogether, but when someone tells you that the fraternity environment creates a space where people are unsafe, your response shouldn’t be immediate condemnation. If you actually cared about preventing assault, you’d understand that so many of our affiliations contribute to a culture that allows it to flourish. If you cared, you’d place this article within its appropriate context – you’d respectfully push against the idea of eradicating Greek life and instead propose compromises and alternative solutions. We are ALL implicated in systems of violence, every single one of us. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make your frat evil. Why is this entire comment thread about hurt feelings when it should be a meaningful discussion on how we, together as a community, can make Kenyon safer?

    Please don’t pretend you actually care about sexual assault or its victims if you only want to engage in these discussions when they do not ask anything of you. It IS challenging to accept the fact that many assaults take place within a fraternity setting. It’s challenging to recognize that people have feelings about the spaces you inhabit that you may not readily perceive. This is all hard work, but it’s necessary work. It’s work we are doing in attempt to make our college a better place. When you pull the focus from sexual assault, when you deny that your fraternity in any way contributes to a culture where sexual assault is prevalent, you essentially tell every survivor that they do not matter. You assert that your pride-fueled indignation is more important than working together toward meaningful change. Please think about that. Please.

  21. Kris permalink
    May 5, 2016 5:11 pm

    Thank you for this careful opinion work. I have been listening for student views on the troubling issue of rape, combined with alcohol, and campus life. There is something important missing from your alcohol analysis, however, and I would be interested how you see this: Alcohol does not only impair physical coordination–it impairs judgement. It is good judgement that is missing from so many assaults, including rape. And we need to talk about levels of consumption. I am a native Californian and consider wine to be food, one enjoyed as food is enjoyed, not to the point of inability to walk, or reach home.

    Our decisions in a sober state are readily weakened or changed when alcohol is drunk too fast and in huge quantities. Never mind what it does to the body. Is there any model of restraint that students can see? Is there such a thing on campus as a lovely buzz with a drink, but without the vomiting and violent aftermath? Can’t we expect more of so many intelligent, capable, and engaged young adults? “Pregaming” horrifies me, adding more alcohol (and bad judgement) to every event. Is it really so difficult to go to a party???

    As the writer says, we take cues from the larger culture we live in. When did “drinking” actually mean “binge drinking until you fall down”? Yes, we live in a culture whose misogyny, violence, alcoholism, etc., are incredibly destructive. Standing up for a better culture, and rejecting some aspects of our current culture, are well within the power of college students, and I hope to hear some students take on this responsibility. Student views need to be part of any changes at Kenyon that are going to be effective. I hope that student views come to support alcohol enjoyment with restraint, consensual sex, and
    freedom to say No to any activity a student does not wish to do.

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  1. Janet Lohmann Named New Dean of Students | The Thrill

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