Members of the Halifax Greek Council believe they were misrepresented in a report released earlier this month by StudentsNS, examining sexual assault on Nova Scotia’s university campuses.
In the report, ‘A Review of Student Union Policies and Practices to Prevent Sexual Violence’, one section explains that fraternity cultures are viewed as “especially problematic” and “more likely to perpetuate sexual violence.”
The document cites an American study from the early ‘90s linking fraternities to a disproportionate number of violent acts of sexual assault.
Evan Hallward, president of the Halifax Greek Council, feels the report unfairly targets fraternities.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat these allegations,” says Hallward, also a Dalhousie management student and chapter founder of the Zeta Psi Fraternity, “but instead of stating facts or talking to us, they created a divide where fraternities are the bad guys. It puts the word ‘fraternity’ in a negative light, even when the report doesn’t necessarily mirror what we do out here in Halifax.”
Throughout the report, StudentsNS explores how universities could build a safer campus culture, explaining that university campuses in Nova Scotia lack proper dialogue on sexuality.
When asked about the report’s portrayal of Greek life, Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS executive director said, “The report doesn’t try to single out fraternities, but it identifies that in the literature and research, it was communicated that there were particular concerns around fraternities and athletics.”
The report also illustrates the challenges presented by the “perfect storm” of alcohol and sexual assault, and how fraternities are often associated with this combination. Hallward believes that if given the opportunity, the Halifax Greek Council would be willing to work with StudentsNS on tackling these issues.
“The message that I hope that fraternities and athletics groups will take away from the report is that they can be a really important part of the solution,” says Williams.
“That is something that I believe no one in our organization would be opposed to,” says Hallward. “It’s what we stand for. If they would have contacted us, we could have easily worked together to create a campaign.”
The Halifax Greek Council is made up of several fraternities and sororities across the city, holding various events throughout the year. For one fundraiser, the council hosted a Quidditch tournament with proceeds going to Shinerama.
Hallward hopes to help Halifax’s Greek organizations focus on their positive contributions, such as this fundraiser, while acknowledging the challenges that are presented by the stigma of fraternities.
“We’re not shy to talk about sexual assault. If we’re hosting an event, we make sure to be aware of everything going on. My brothers and I collectively and responsibly look out for these things. We don’t take it lightly.”