Fraternities Under Fire for Sexual Assault Awareness Banners

May 5, 2016

College fraternities are known for hanging offensive and sexist banners in front of their houses. The practice has drawn controversy before, even resulting in Sigma Nu suspending its chapter at Old Dominion University last year. Fraternities at Northwestern University are now under fire for hanging a different kind of sign: banners that raise awareness about campus sexual assault. "This is everyone's problem," one banner read. "Theta Chi stand against sexual assault," read another.

The banners, which were fixed to the outside of fraternity houses during April, were meant to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But some students on campus found the signs to be in poor taste, arguing that fraternities should do more than hang banners when combating campus sexual assault. “To display a banner [saying] that ‘We support survivors’ is really something you have to earn by actually walking the walk,” one student told the Daily Northwestern.

On Monday, Northwestern's Interfraternity Council announced that it would discourage chapters from hanging the banners in the future, and that it would create a four-year sexual assault education program for fraternities. “We recognize now how this campaign may have been emotionally triggering for survivors, and we want to make a deep, genuine apology for anyone that may have been affected,” the IFC's executive board said in the statement. “This was not our intent, but it is our fault for not being cognizant enough and not considering how it might affect others in our community.”

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