USC’s recent Greek life sexual assault scandal has ignited a heated reaction from many folks on campus. Just last week, hundreds of students marched to Frat Row denouncing fraternities and the rape culture they are associated with. But as time goes on, will calls to change or abolish fraternities die off? Jeremy Lindenfeld has more.
Groups on campus have been calling on USC officials to address fraternities even before recent allegations were leveled against members of Sigma Nu. Student, organizer, and activist Alyssa Delarosa has been among the loudest voices calling for action. She has noticed an increasing number of students willing to stand up and make their voices heard.
Alyssa Delarosa: When students see that they’re not alone and there’s others that are organizing and there’s others that are putting out a call for action, they’re going to join in.
Delarosa’s activism has largely focused on the abolition of Greek life on campus. She believes ending fraternities is the only way to fix many problems at USC.
Delarosa: We’re calling for the end of the Greek life system in general because we recognize it’s not just the sexual assault. It’s the overall rape culture, misogyny, elitism, racism, transphobia, homophobia...
Other activists like Eva Heinrichs, USC Flow’s finance director, do not think abolition is a feasible, or necessary goal. Instead, she and other reform advocates have focused some of their efforts on emphasizing that fraternities and their members should be held accountable for the toxic environments they may foster.
Eva Heinrichs: I think it starts with individual Greek members learning how to hold each other accountable because they express — they don’t know how to respond to it. At the end of the day, it is a systemic problem. It’s part of the culture of Greek life, and so changing that culture I think is kind of the starting point.
Though many similar activist movements often die-off without resulting in any real change, Heinrichs and others are hopeful that this time may be different.
Eva Heinrichs: I think that the fact that the faculty has gotten involved and they’ve been reaching out to student organizations asking what can they do and even this upcoming march this Friday, I think that in and of itself is kind of a step further than a lot of movements or reactions get.
Though activists are encouraged by increased student and faculty engagement, they recognize that more work needs to be done. They believe continued pressure on the university to address fraternities is necessary because many are not satisfied with the administration’s actions. Activists like Delarosa are worried that the movement will die down before substantive change is reached.
Delarosa: As activists, it’s heartbreaking. We know that these things sort of do die down and again, there’s a lot of reasons for that. one of them being we put so much time, energy and effort and yet the university still doesn’t meet our demands.
To keep the pressure on USC, groups on campus plan on continuing their organizing efforts. Delarosa says that AbolishGreekUSC will continue holding marches and protests, in addition to educational events that will inform students about abolition more broadly.