More than a Greek-only solution needed to solve CWRU’s sexual misconduct problem

Last semester’s uptick in reported instances of sexual misconduct within the Greek system was initially all but unknown by people outside of the Greek community.

Rumors of the situation circulated on Yik Yak, but neither the Office of Greek Life nor the Office of Student Affairs, which had initially informed Greek Life of the problem, had issued any official statements to the campus community at large. Even President Barbara R. Snyder didn’t know about the situation until after The Observer had reported on it.

This trend of division between Greek action and greater campus unawareness continues, with the situation being addressed through a closed, Greek-only focus group. Neither condemnation from central administration, nor statement from the Office of Student Affairs, nor campus-wide solution or discussion has been offered so far for this campus-wide problem.

To clarify for those who may have forgotten over the long break and taxing first couple of weeks back, the situation referred to here was 10 instances of sexual misconduct reported specifically in conjunction with Greek events, largely involving alcohol, this past fall semester. Shortly after someone within the Office of Student Affairs informed Greek Life of this disturbing trend, rumors that Greek Life had ordered fraternities to cancel all parties for the semester’s one remaining weekend began to spread on Yik Yak. More accurately, Greek Life issued a suggestion that fraternities cancel any event involving alcohol. Mark Starr, Director of Greek Life, reported this week that, to his knowledge, fraternities did heed this recommendation and cancelled that weekend’s planned parties.

Currently, there is a focus group comprised of one member from each fraternity and sorority chapter on campus working on finding solutions. The focus group, funded through the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Congress (IFC) budgets, is working in collaboration with the Greek Life Office and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. It has met as a whole twice, with smaller subcommittee meetings happening between these meetings, and it plans to meet three more times this semester before making its proposal for a plan of action to prevent future sexual misconduct. The IFC is also planning to educate new members on bystander intervention.

While the IFC and this focus group are clearly trying to work towards the best possible solution, they are doing so through a purely Greek channel. Yet, Greek officials repeat that this is a campus-wide problem. Starr commented, “I think it’s a general university issue, and not just here, but everywhere.” IFC President Ethan Pickering had a similar perspective on the scale of the issue.

Sexual misconduct is an issue that impacts the whole campus. Their solution should be one that encompasses the whole campus.

This complaint cannot rest on Greek Life; as both Pickering and Starr noted, their response had been oriented to remain within their organizations’ “sphere of influence.” In addition, the Greek system’s response has been making good use of the organizational frameworks they have in place. To strengthen their role in actively working towards a solution, though, Greek Life would do well to include some non-Greek students in their focus group, to add a broader campus perspective.

Similarly to Greek Life, it may be easy to point blame at the president, but this lack of whole-campus response is not really the fault of Snyder, either. There are University offices below hers on which the responsibility could more fairly be placed.

That brings the focus to the Office of Student Affairs and one of its sub organizations, the University Judicial Board. It was, after all, the Office of Student Affairs that initially brought this problem to Greek attention, so clearly those working in the Office know that this is an issue serious enough to merit attention. The University Judicial Board must also be mentioned, as this stems from a systemic problem with student conduct and the board is currently handling the misconduct cases. To include the whole campus in addressing this campus-wide problem, the Office of Student Affairs and the University Judicial Board, not just Greek Life, would be the ideal organizations to take the lead in the search for solutions.

This solution should include all of us. After all, ending sexual misconduct is everyone’s responsibility.

Sexual misconduct is not just a Greek Life problem; fixing it shouldn’t be just a Greek Life solution.