Theory to Praxis: Increasing Protection Against Sexual Assault in Eating Houses and Fraternities`

This past semester, I have come to understand the importance of intersectional feminism in responding to the inequalities espoused by the feminist movement, which was created in response to the challenges facing white, middle class, cis-gendered and able-bodied women. Although early feminist thought involved the ideas of women from all backgrounds, white feminism has, and continues to, dominate and marginalize the voices and needs of women of color.  While I was aware of intersectionality before GSS 101, class readings helped me uncover the complexity underlying societal patterns of oppression, creating different forces of inequality for various individuals. Following the resounding support and election of Donald Trump, who has blatantly endorsed racist, misogynist, and xenophobic messages, I have feared for my safety, as well as my friends and classmates who identify as queer, Muslim, trans or African American. The readings and conversations in GSS 101 helped me cope with these feelings and understand the need for intersectional feminism amidst the current fear experienced by the LGBTQ community and people of color.

To put knowledge and conversations from GSS into practice, I would like to encourage fraternities to implement a Sexual Misconduct Policy, similar to the one created by Warner Hall, and implemented by other eating houses. Under this policy, sexual assault victims can request that perpetrators be denied access to eating house events following a hearing by Conduct Council.  The purpose of the sexual assault policy was to grant Warner Hall with the authority to restrict entrance to anyone who threatens the safety of its members; the policy affirms that Georgia Ringle is the designated resource to report sexual assault and assert eating houses as equipped to handle the implications of sexual assault. However, the policy creates an opportunity for victims who lack evidence to enter a school based trial to feel comfortable at social events hosted by their eating house. Implementing a similar policy among college fraternities would protect any fraternity brothers who have also been victims of sexual assault.

Additionally, I would like to expand the sexual assault policy to encourage fraternities and eating houses to conduct their own hearing to institute sanctions against a member who has committed sexual assault. While measures must be taken to ensure confidentiality and protection of the victim, this extension would protect the safety those who attend fraternity or eating house events.