Editorial: We need UMN fraternity leaders who will be accountable, create change

Brotherhood is all well and good, but the greek community needs accountability and immediate policy changes.

Break the Silence Day organized a march on frat row along University Avenue on Saturday, Mar. 4, 2017.

Ellen Schmidt

Break the Silence Day organized a march on frat row along University Avenue on Saturday, Mar. 4, 2017.

The Editorial Board is dismayed over the recent reports by the Minnesota Daily of a number of sexual assaults committed by fraternity members from a number of different chapters on campus.

Throughout our members’ time on campus, and before, the University of Minnesota greek life system has played host to many incidents of sexual assaults.

While these assaults are not committed exclusively by fraternity brothers, and they don’t happen only in their homes, the culture of masculinity and brotherhood in these fraternities serves as a chillingly effective way to hide these assaults and intimidate victims from coming forward.

There have been many junctures in which our University’s greek community could have changed course in meaningful ways. But any policy changes made have been perfunctory, facile or have not achieved their intended goal of curbing sexual violence and misconduct by greek life members.

Their unwillingness to expose the violence in their community and take steps toward creating a safe environment for all students was put in sharp display earlier this year when sexual assault survivor and advocate Abby Honold was disinvited from speaking at ‘Walk A Mile In Her Shoes’ — a greek community event aimed at raising sexual assault awareness. A member of the event’s planning committee said Honold could “cause more harm than good.”

Honold was later re-invited, and Interfraternity Council president Simon Beck rebuked the planning member’s decision, saying it was made without IFC approval.

Nonetheless, the assaults tied to greek life are a part of the wider, complex issue of sexual violence on campus — and we implore leaders of the University’s greek community to take immediate actions to improve education on consent and bystander intervention.

It is unfortunate that the greek community must constantly react to its rampant problem of sexual violence. Any rational-minded organization would take necessary, preventative measures when it realizes there is a problem.

But, perhaps, the community has deluded itself into thinking there isn’t a problem. If that’s the case, we urge members of the greek community to look around — the statistics, the stories from a bevy of survivors, the protestors chanting just a few steps from your doors.

It’s time the IFC and the University’s various fraternity chapters act with accountability and transparency. This campus can no longer bear witness to a greek community that is negligible in its oversight and regressive in its policies.

Brotherhood is all well and good when it’s founded on good faith and morality. But a culture that props up and protects perpetrators — that’s no longer brotherhood, it’s morally reprehensible.