Protect Women by Banning Them?

U of Missouri considers plan to bar women from visiting fraternity houses on weekend nights. University says idea is to prevent sexual assault, but sorority leaders are among those most opposed.

June 10, 2015

Could parietals be reborn?

The University of Missouri at Columbia is considering a plan that would ban female visitors to fraternity houses after 10 p.m. (and until 3 a.m. the next morning) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The plan was developed by a coalition of fraternity alumni leaders and proposed as a way to protect women from sexual assault.

The plan embraces some strategies used on other campuses, such as banning hard liquor at fraternity events. But it goes beyond that, not only with the ban on weekend overnight visitors, but by proposing that fraternities and sororities all start drug testing members.

The plan has been described, incorrectly, as an adopted policy. A spokeswoman for the university stressed that officials were considering these ideas and took them seriously, but that no decisions had been made on which proposals to adopt. She said student leaders -- including Greek leaders -- would be consulted and play a key role in developing any policy.

Public reaction has been intensely negative, with people taking to social media to denounce the proposals. People have raised questions of fairness, asking why the university would ban women from fraternity houses at night while maintaining coeducational dormitories. Many have accused the university of generalizing about fraternity members, implying that they are all likely rapists who need to be kept away from women at night.

Fraternity-related websites have been outspoken about the proposal. Total Frat Move said that the idea belongs "on the Mount Rushmore of university incompetence." The site said that this rule would "kill fraternities" while moving parties "underground," where women may be more at risk of sexual assault.

Among the most vocal critics of the proposal have been sorority leaders, who characterized the proposal as sexist.

The Panhellenic Association sent a letter to university leaders stating its opposition. "By restricting women from certain locations under the guise of 'safety,' this policy lends itself to the notion that women cannot make choices for themselves about their own safety," the letter says.

"Additionally, this policy might inadvertently give men within fraternity houses the right or feeling of entitlement to treat women who do not abide by this rule as the men wish," the letter adds. "This could lead to an increase in dehumanizing or making women counterparts inferior to the fraternity men. We do understand that this policy was suggested as a means to protect women from an unsafe environment. However, if women would be unsafe during the hours of 10 p.m. through 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, we implore fraternities to remove the members who are currently contributing to an unsafe environment and to recruit members who will not make an environment unsafe in the future."


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