Forget FratPAC, Greek life should support Title IX

The Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee needs to stand by universities authority to conduct campus rape investigations, for Greek life's survival.

With recent incidents like the University of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter singing a racist song and Penn State's Kappa Delta Rho sharing nude photos of unconscious women, it’s easy to question the purpose of Greek life nowadays. Even Will Ferrell, a brother of Delta Tau Delta in his undergraduate days at the University of Southern California, stated the fraternity lifestyle has morphed into something it was never intended to become.

But wait, it gets worse. According to Bloomberg Business, Greek life's political representation — the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee or the FratPAC — intends to lobby against Title IX later this month.

When Title IX was signed by Richard Nixon in 1972, its intent was simple — gender equity for both men and women in federally funded educational institutions. Many associate Title IX with sports equity, but that is only one aspect of the law; there are actually a few key points. Title IX requires schools to take immediate action if there is any perceived sexual discrimination, harassment or violence occurring on campus. In the context of the law's Educational Amendment, schools must “ensure that the victim remains free of sexual discrimination, harassment or violence."

The political action committee dedicated to Greek life wishes to have “the criminal justice system resolve cases before universities look into them or hand down punishments.” According to the FratPAC’s executive director, Kevin O’Neill, fraternities and sororities are concerned about assailants going unpunished and victims lacking support services.

This movement is extremely problematic. Eliminating a university’s power to step in and conduct campus rape investigations moves us in the wrong direction. Although, recent college rape investigations have been messy, there’s no reason not get campus adjudicators involved.

Know your IX argues that universities can handle these cases in ways that criminal proceedings can’t, stating, “A criminal trial is brought against a defendant by the state — not the victim — in defense of the state’s interests. That means that what the survivor needs is sidelined. In contrast, schools, unlike criminal courts, are focused on the victim and are required to make sure he or she has everything they need to continue their education.”

For example, a rape victim’s case could have been resolved through a criminal court, but the victims perpetrator could still be roaming on the same college campus. This scenario could easily be resolved if the university stepped in.

The FratPAC is missing its mark. There is a clear reason why universities have the ability to conduct these investigations. Instead of stripping universities' authority, we should be looking to improve the system that is already implemented. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, has been trying to pass the Campus Safety & Accountability Act. This act seeks to increase support services for rape on college campuses and also demands an increase in federal penalties for schools that underreport their rape statistics to the government.

When asked about the FratPAC's lobbying efforts, Senator Gillibrand said, “We should be making universities more accountable for providing a safe campus, not less. Waiting for long legal process to play itself out for those victims who pursue criminal charges while leaving potential serial rapists on campus in the interim would put public safety at risk."

The FratPAC and various supporters will be rallying on Capitol Hill on April 29. However, taking action to protect college, fraternity men from facing repercussions for mistreating women definitely won't help Greek life's survival.

Reach the columnist at ambice@asu.edu or follow @AllieBice on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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