Halifax

Greek societies feel “targeted” by sexual violence report

Greek societies feel
The Sigma Chi fraternity on South Street. (Photo by Kit Moran)
written by Josh Stoodley
January 31, 2014 10:55 am

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.”

  • Mac Ella Mayer
  • xxsh5

    I am saddened to see that these organizations are not accepting responsibility for the role that they play in perpetuating rape culture. While, these organizations may not promote rape, they do promote a highly masculinized environment, where women are often objectified, as can be seen in the TFM email example. It would be great if the fraternities can become more involved in preventing incidences of sexual assault and rape from occurring, but I also think it is important that they understand the ways in which they are responsible for perpetuating that kind of behaviour.

    • Henry

      And yet this article says nothing about the fact that the Chapter House of Phi Delta Theta on campus is Alchohol free. It also continually hosts events that are alchohol free for Greek and non-Greek students.

      Not to mention the amount of philanthropy Greek Societies do on campus – yet this misinformed article that references outdated source material brings up dated stereotypes and generalizations.

      If you took a second to look into it xxsh5, you’d see that your comment is way off base and misinformed. Ignorant even.

  • Victoria

    Can I just point out that that TFM article has absolutely nothing to do with the Sigma Chi chapter in Halifax. That one email does not represent an entire organization that has hundreds of chapters all over North America. I can speak from experience that none of the Halifax Sigma Chi brothers in Halifax have always made me feel comfortable and safe when I’m around them. Also the Sigma Chi brothers in Halifax are all extremely involved with philanthropy work and they always have fundraisers on the go.

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