Dear Fraternities, We Are Taking Back…Take Back The Night

Dear Fraternities, We Are Taking Back…Take Back The Night

A few weeks ago, hazing complaints at Coastal Carolina University resulted in the suspension of three of five fraternities on campus, Kappa Sigma, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Pi Kappa Phi fraternities. This development echoed local and national concerns regarding fraternities and their reoccurring failure to recognize boundaries and appropriate behavior. For this reason, as members of the Coastal Carolina Community, we are respectfully asking fraternity members do not attend Take Back the Night for the purposes of rallying for Homecoming or self-promotion but only attend if they would have otherwise- as survivors of sexual assault or humble allies.

sexualashttp://www.zencollegelife.com/15-frightening-facts-about-sororities-and-fraternities/

This week is Sexual Violence Awareness Week, which is a series of events that provide space for important discussion and much needed education about sexual violence and consent. Sexual Violence Awareness Week includes Tuesday, October 7th’s Take Back The Night, however, this event is not meant to serve as an educative piece or as an invitation for general admission. Take Back The Night is a collective march across campus, composed of survivors of sexual assault, a vast majority being women given their over-representation in assaults. In suit with its name, the purpose of Take Back the Night is for survivors to literally take back the night. It is not an event, as previously held, to accumulate points for a Homecoming competition. It is not a space to plug your fraternity and “rep your letters.” Most of all, it is not a space where survivors should be put in a position where they not only carry the responsibility of educating disinterested groups about how to behave, but also be put into the position where they have to justify their stories, experiences, and presence to attending fraternity members who have made a mockery of the event in the past.

Last year’s Take Back the Night was seen as troubling for many survivors, as previously reported in a national write-up. “As part of CCU’s annual homecoming competition, Greek organizations [were] able to win points for attending certain MultiCultural events — including sexual assault awareness programs. This result[ed] in disinterested frat members showing up at sexual assault panels/events en masse, which can create a very antagonistic environment… In one such instance members of the Greek community were obligated to go to a Take Back the Night [2013] rally and reportedly made attendees uncomfortable by making loud and sarcastic comments.”  Moreover, the focus and publicity was later directed to these very fraternities, repurposing their inappropriate participation as a marketing platform, implying Coastal is a safe place for women demonstrated by the fraternities’ attendance and “support.”

sexualas

Coastal, however, is not a safe place for women because we know 1 in 4 women on college campuses report having survived rape or attempted rape and these fraternities are not representative of the people who dedicate their lives to working on these types of issues the other 364 days of the year. Last year, Pi Kappa Phi specifically, showed disrespect by taking the signs made by women, including ones that said, “My dress is not a yes,” trivializing and mocking the meanings of the signs.  The fraternity then proved to be a trigger for some survivors.

One student anonymously submitted in reflection of last year’s event, “The loud male voices shouting in the back of the crowd – not following along with the chants of the rest of the group – made survivors like me feel overpowered at our own event where we are supposed to be taking our power back!  The speak out was extremely tense and uncomfortable, and many survivors felt silenced in our own space. Take Back the Night is not the event to come to if you are not a survivor or ally.  Take Back the Night is not the time to take the power and voices away from survivors. This is our one night.  One. Night. Sexual assault is not only a social justice issue, but a public health issue.  It is rampant and embedded in our culture and until we address that (and address the events of last year’s Take Back the Night as evidence of such) the problem cannot be solved.”

Another student submitted, “I didn’t attend because I feared it would turn into exactly what it did. It’s really unfortunate and disheartening in an analytical sense. For one, that a survivor was intimidated out of attending an event designated specifically for them and, two that it could be so easily predicted that it would go poorly. It blows my mind that I had the foresight to know the combination of homecoming points, fraternities in attendance, lack of education, and already proven hostile climate was a combination bound to create turmoil.  This year, I feel I am attending out of obligation and oversight. For me, I do not personally want to go but I feel I need to go to ensure it isn’t coopted and to be there as support for people I care about if, God forbid, there is a repeat of last year…Dr. Decenzo is planning to speak. I have not personally known him to be a fellow  activist on campus. I hope his remarks are genuine and limited to his experience as a person and not as a representative for the university. He carries a powerful position as president which, if not minded, can belittle, undermine and, honestly, insult the work and autonomy of those of us who have been on the front lines every day.”

http://www.zencollegelife.com/15-frightening-facts-about-sororities-and-fraternities/

 

 

So, in gist, why are we taking back Take Back the Night? It is one night out of the year for survivors of sexual violence and their close allies to join together in solidarity of one another’s experiences.  It’s a time for survivors to feel comfortable enough to share if they feel compelled to do so. Please respect the space.  Respect the purpose and intent of the event.  Respect who this is for and who chooses to speak or not speak out.  We encourage you to attend all the other events next week to have  deep, important conversation on sexual violence and consent.  Come to the Got Consent student talk and panel discussion, for example, Monday, October 6th at 6 in Wall 118.  The talk and panel will be peer led in hopes of students hearing out other students, and it will also provide important information and resources on these issues.  Students will talk about rape culture and its role on our campus. Show support.  Have important conversations.  Learn important information, and gain knowledge of resources on campus, in our community, and in our country.  Most importantly, respect boundaries and respect the triggers of survivors and our allies. Allow survivors and allies a safe and comfortable space to TAKE BACK THE NIGHT!

 

-Coastal Carolina Survivors and  Humble Allies

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10 Responses to Dear Fraternities, We Are Taking Back…Take Back The Night

  1. Bob Jenkot says:

    Well said.

  2. CCU Greek says:

    This is the most ignorant thing I’ve ever read. I am a member of a sorority here at campus and fraternity members at coastal have been there for me during hard times. Some of them are like older brothers to me and this is so inaccurate, ignorant, and wrong. You are profiling and stereotyping fraternities and you sound so unbelievably ignorant. You claim to be worried about the victims of sexual assault but after reading this article it seems to me that your only goal is to bash fraternities. It is clear that you are not a member of Greek life. Therefore il give you the benefit of the doubt because you are so unaware of how amazing each organization here at coastal is and what they have to offer. What if a member of a fraternity was a victim of sexual assault? Thanks to this insensitive and ignorant article that member will no longer feel welcome at this event. What if a member of a fraternity is friends with or related to a victim of sexual assault and now you have told them they are not welcome? I can not think of a more ignorant and insensitive act. This is profiling at it’s finest and you should be beyond ashamed. Take a good hard look at yourself tomorrow morning because you’ve singled out a great group of people and belittled them. This sort of ignorant trash of profiling a group of individuals and banning them from places took place in the past buts it’s 2014 and there is no longer room in this world for ignorant brainless people like you.

    • Please note, if you didn’t read, we were not asking Fraternities to not attend but as stated in the article, “we are respectfully asking fraternity members do not attend Take Back the Night for the purposes of rallying for Homecoming or self-promotion but only attend if they would have otherwise- as survivors of sexual assault or humble allies.” We were glad to see respectful, meaningful participation this year!

  3. concerned greek member says:

    We understand that inappropriate behavior is unacceptable in a setting like this. Why not ask for those who attend be sensitive to those who are victims or support victims of sexual assault instead of blaming those who are in greek life? If “fraternity men” are a part of the problem and are related to the statistics about sexual violence, why not include them to raise awareness and promote personal and human growth? Why not show “fraternity men” that they can be a part of the movement towards change and awareness? Wouldn’t raising awareness be a part of the solution to sexual assault? Include EVERYONE to support change. Include EVERYONE that way this event in itself doesn’t make victims because of the remarks made. I am a part of the Greek community and stand for the Greek community. We are philanthropists. We are a COMMUNITY here on campus that is suppose to provide support for the whole university. We are representations of the University and national organizations. Allow us to support and be the change that we wish to see. Support us so we can in turn support the Coastal Community. This email makes Coastal seem like segregated parts that are only related by a geographical area. We are must more than that. We are a community. We are Coastal.

    • Agreed! Great points. This is why we stressed they attend as humble allies or survivors, not as a means for self-promotion. Many students seemed confused and thought the article stated they were not invited. We appreciate your feedback and will try to incorporate this attitude in our future work, thank you!

  4. Pingback: A Successful Take Back The Night | Coastal Carolina Student Union

  5. Travis King says:

    This article absolutely disgust me as an alumni…the fact that you are making fraternities to be all bad and act like no one that participates in Greek life takes these crimes seriously is a joke and so disrespectful on so many levels…we are taught not to generalize people or be prejudice but you are doing exactly that by identifying all people in Greek life in this article as making a mockery out of an important cAuse….I am now an alumni and was in a fraternity at coastal for 4 years…I don’t know if you are uneducated but this event was not very popular when I came to coastal in 2009…As a Greek life member I went to this event every single year to support the people taking back the night because I cared a lot about the cause…my fraternity promoted this event more than coastal did and put a lot of work into trying to make this event memorable for the victims year after year….the reason this event became so big and gained support was because of how much work all of Greek life put into including sororities and fraternities…the fact that you are now telling people who are not victims to not come and generalizing all Greek life is disrespectful and disgusting….Mark my words this event will not be as successful without the help of Greek life you will see by the attendance just watch….next time you write an article make sure your educated about how the event became what it is and try not to generalize people unless you yourself would like to be judged by someone without them knowing you…

    • Please note, if you didn’t read, we were not asking Fraternities to not attend but as stated in the article, “we are respectfully asking fraternity members do not attend Take Back the Night for the purposes of rallying for Homecoming or self-promotion but only attend if they would have otherwise- as survivors of sexual assault or humble allies.” We were glad to see respectful, meaningful participation this year!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why wouldn’t they just ban the 3 fraternities that were suspended from Greek life? This article mentioned that Pi Kappa Phi was the fraternity that was causing the main issues and making the victims feel the most uncomfortable, and they were suspended earlier this semester. I’m not in Greek Life and I respect the desicion based on the view points of the victims, but there are also misrepresentations of quality students in the other fraternities as well.

    • Appreciate your feedback! We tried to not make too broad of a generalization while still drawing attention to a problem exacerbated in Greek communities. We were glad to see Greek there, as they like anyone else deserved to be, without issue. It was a great event!

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