Fraternity officials say that they understand the depth of the students’ anger about sexual assault, but that protesters are not seeing the whole picture.
“We have our challenges no doubt, just like the governors of states, just like people who are in media, just like pro athletes, just like entertainment,” said Judson Horras, president and chief executive of the North American Interfraternity Conference, the largest trade association of fraternities. He added, “We are being labeled for a problem that is frankly much larger than a fraternity issue.”
Fraternity officials say that while the police and university investigations are continuing, their chapters have acted swiftly and decisively. The accused student at the University of Nebraska dropped out of school and is no longer a member of the chapter, according to the Interfraternity Conference.
“So many fraternity men are appalled by this behavior,” Mr. Horras said, adding that fraternity brothers who expelled members should be supported and encouraged, not targeted by protests.
“They did the right thing,” Mr. Horras said. “The protests should be directed at the behavior.”
Mr. Horras said the Interfraternity Conference had taken specific steps to stop sexual misconduct. It requires fraternity members to receive sexual misconduct education, and since the fall of 2019, it has banned the consumption of hard alcohol at fraternity parties and houses.
Fraternity members are told, he said, “You report the incident immediately because we want to have a culture of openness and accountability of individuals.”
But fraternities have impassioned opponents. The protests are in a similar vein to “Abolish Greek Life” movements that have sprung up over the past year at universities like Emory, American and North Carolina. And the entering class of college students seems more intense and unyielding than that of the students who entered just before them, students say.
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