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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Greek community lacks confidence that allowing sorority parties would impact sexual assaults

Joey Reuteman
Langdon Street

One proposed solution to decreasing sexual assaults on campus is to allow sororities to hold their own parties, away from the alcohol-related events of fraternities.

It’s a solution that’s become part of a national debate on Greek life and sexual assault, but at University of Wisconsin’s campus, the chances of it happening are slim, and its effectiveness is unclear.

Kevin Helmkamp, associate dean of students at UW, whose office receives reports and investigates sexual assaults across campus, said there is no evidence that suggests that sexual assaults happen more often at UW fraternities than other areas around campus.


“We don’t see [sexual assaults] highly focused in one area or another,” Helmkamp said. “Our reporting does not reflect that [incidents in] Greek life and fraternities are noticeable or significantly higher than other places.”

TJ Sargent, the Greek life coordinator at UW, said sexual assaults that are linked to Greek organizations occur about once a year, although that number doesn’t include victims that choose not to report assaults.

Campus administrators and members of the Greek community have also concluded that hosting alcohol-related events at sorority houses would not be logistically possible.

“At the end of the day, it’s not going to happen,” Sargent said.

This lack of logistical possibility derives from the Fraternal Information and Programming Group policies. That’s the superseding national body that creates risk management policies that many Greek organizations abide by, according to

FIPG policies put restrictions on allowing alcohol in Greek facilities in order for these organizations to obtain insurance.

Nick Lacourt, president of the Delta Upsilon fraternity at UW, said FIPG’s ‘bring your own booze’ policy allows those who are 21 to drink and bring beer and wine coolers to their parties to give to a designated bartender.

But sorority houses are not allowed to have alcohol on their property under FIPG’s policies, according to Soraya Vaezi, Vice President of Risk Management for the Alpha Chi Omega sorority said.

“We’re not supposed to bring unnecessary liability into the house, and alcohol is considered an unnecessary liability,” Vaezi said about FIPG policies. “Also, sorority houses tend to be nicer and not as conducive to partying.”

Alcohol at sororities could bring more problems than solutions

Sorority and fraternity representatives do see some benefits to allowing sororities to host events, such as the potential for sexual assault prevention. They maintain, however, that the presence of alcohol in any location can be risky.

“I think that this [idea] would deter some fraternity members from committing sexual assaults,” Lacourt said. “However, I think it would be difficult to implement the change and get the culture of Greek life to adjust to sorority hosted events.”

Helmkamp said that even though sororities would take one part of what leads to sexual assault out of the picture — the location — there are still many other parts of the environment of sexual assault that would still be there.

“The role that alcohol plays in the social interaction, that’s still there, the players are still there, the attitudes are still there,” Helmkamp said. “So I don’t know if whether or not just changing the geography but leaving everything else the same would have that end result.”

According to Helmkamp, the great majority of sexual assault reports that come in involve at least one of the affected parties drinking alcohol.

Vaezi said alcohol “creates an atmosphere that is conducive to sexual assault.”

“When alcohol is in the mix, it makes things fuzzy, and it blurs lines — and consent is obviously not just the absence of a no but the presence of a positive yes,” Vaezi said.

Sexual assault prevention for UW Greek life

The social interaction between sororities and fraternities is important within the Greek community. Helmkamp said he believes if sororities made an attempt to change any negative social interactions that could arise from fraternities, this could be an effectual form of punishment for poor behavior.

“My guess is if the sorority world said these are the [fraternities] that are on sorority probation or sorority suspension, I’m guessing that’d be pretty powerful and [sororities have] the power to do that,” he said.

When sexual assault comes to be an issue within the Greek community, UW’s punishment often involves either suspension or probation of the organization and their social activities on campus.

Fraternities, on the other hand, would implement their own form of punishment on a member found guilty of sexual assault, which often would be their removal from the organization, Lacourt said.

From putting on the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, to educating Greek men on sexual assault through their course “Greek Men for Violence Prevention” to implementing a four year membership education plan that encompasses this issue, the Greek community has taken many strides on their own to start a conversation on the issue of sexual assault in their community, Sargent said.

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