Every parent wants their child to grow up, do well in school and eventually leave the nest to go off to college (hopefully on full academic and/or athletic scholarships).
After buying a house with a picket fence, getting a dog and birthing 2.5 children, this hope is the natural extension of the American Dream. But some of the activities on college campuses these days are becoming every parent’s worst nightmare.
Hazing deaths, usually alcohol- and/or drug-related, in Greek fraternities are nothing new. They unfortunately happened when I was in college, and they are still happening today. With two recent high-profile cases, one at Penn State and one at LSU, garnering national media attention, we have to ask ourselves once again, what can we do to finally stop these senseless deaths?
Universities and national fraternity chapters have tried to address this in various ways. They bring in doctors to tell these kids what alcohol poisoning looks like in an attempt to terrify them from drinking 15 shots in a row. They have tried banning alcohol altogether or threatening to close the fraternity down if word of any behavior like this is reported. I truly believe they are trying. But yet, it keeps happening.
You want your children to spread their wings and fly and hang out with friends and form lifelong bonds, but obviously you don’t want them to die. Nor do you want them to see any of their buddies die. These rituals take lives and ruin the ones of those left behind.
Part of me says, these kids need to be more responsible and they should be taught to know better than to engage in this kind of reckless behavior. That sounds all fine and good. But they’re kids, and they are trying to fit in with a bunch of new people and look cool, and there is more peer pressure than ever. Even a “good kid” who has been taught all the right lessons can make poor choices in these situations.
No parent should have to bury a child for any reason. But these hazing deaths seem even more senseless.
Greek life is here to stay and there are many great things about it. But this sad story is bound to keep repeating itself no matter how many warnings these kids get. Because none of them think it is ever going to happen to them.
I say, if you are going to have fraternities, you should make them employ a full-time, live-in nurse or paramedic, who can not only treat their colds and STDs, but also save them from drowning in their own vomit. Seriously. Just replace the house mother with a medical professional.
I am not one for “coddling” kids on college campuses, but Greek life is an extra expense paid for by parents. If my kids decide they want to go that route and we decide to scratch out checks for them to do so, I would feel much better knowing my money was going to pay for someone who could save their lives than, say, forking over dough to an interior designer who is putting a new $5,000 Chesterfield couch in the frat house library and painting the walls one of Farrow & Ball’s “key colours” of the year. One expense seems far more insane than the other to me. But maybe that’s just me.
Sex on campus
In a very admirable attempt to end sexual assault on college campuses, the Obama administration sent out a letter in April 2011 to the nation’s university administrators essentially requiring them to adopt new procedures on how they handle reports of on-campus sexual assaults. If the universities didn’t comply, they would be at risk of losing federal funds, so of course they adopted them.
These procedures are heavily weighted in favor of the accuser and only require a “preponderance of evidence” to find the accused guilty. While I am sure in many cases these guidelines have helped young women get justice they deserve, critics have rightly argued this takes away due process, and there have been many reports of innocent young men’s lives being ruined by a misuse of these new guidelines. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently said they would be revisiting these policies. Hopefully they will rework these guidelines to protect the rights of all involved.
But before they even get to these “campus courts,” the definition of sexual assault has changed greatly over the years at American universities. A relatively new campaign has been going around some college campuses featuring a red Solo cup reading, “My cup is not my consent.”
One university’s website describes consent like this: “Consent should be freely given, enthusiastic and affirmatively communicated through verbal and/or non-verbal language. Consent cannot be assumed or obtained through coercion, manipulation, force, or while under the influence of any drug(s) including alcohol.”
Most of that sentence I think we can all agree with. It is the very last clause that creates a lot of gray area.
Obviously we all know what sexual assault is and obviously we all know that no one should ever take advantage of someone who is incapacitated. That is a classic definition of sexual assault. But after that this definition gets a little murky and a little dangerous. And the one that has caused a lot of misuse of the aforementioned Obama-era guidelines.
There seems to be an attitude that even if a girl gives a guy all of the “affirmative verbal and/or non-verbal language” and has sex with him willingly, but has had a few drinks (that she may have even poured for herself), if she decides the next day or even next week she regrets this action, because she had a few drinks, this can now be a sexual assault instead of just something she regrets.
I am sorry, but this is absolutely ridiculous. When did we stop teaching our daughters that they have to take responsibility for their own actions as well?
Again, I am obviously not talking about girls who are passed out drunk and taken advantage of and truly assaulted. But saying anytime a girl has had a few drinks she can charge someone with sexual assault because she couldn’t really give consent is a very slippery slope to go down.
I have a daughter and I, of course, never want her to be taken advantage of in any way. I also want her to be responsible for her own actions and make good choices.
But I also have a son. And I don’t want him to ever be wrongly accused of something like this either. And I’ll have to say, I think I am more terrified for him than I am for her right now.
A reasonable balance can be found here.
We can protect our daughters, as they should be, without decimating the rights of our sons.