This is in response to an article posted by Gawker yesterday noting a JMU fraternity male provided step-by-step instructions to freshmen men on how to target freshmen women for sex.
If I was a woman on “the list” distributed by a JMU fraternity I would be hurt, violated, and angry. Most of all I would be scared. As a professor who cares for and is committed to student wellbeing I’m outraged and I’m sad. Women don’t deserve to be objectified and targeted. This is not a fun college prank or a harmless tradition, it’s dangerous and it is wrong. I believe we can create a more healthy community.
Kicking one brother out is not enough, though it is important that he be disciplined. I was Greek as an undergraduate, and speaking from my experience, these things don’t happen in a vacuum. Others were likely involved and the organization needs an intervention. This will be a failure of leadership if the a) University and b) fraternity national office does not pursue discipline AND CHANGE. If student organizations don’t further the mission of the university and behave consistent with our values they should be removed. We must be better.
Men, stop. Your behavior is disgusting and dehumanizing. Stop. If you feel you can’t stop, JMU has plenty of resources to help you work through this. We want to help, we are here to help. We must hold each other accountable to change this culture of degradation and objectification. It’s not ok and it is a putrid manifestation of masculinity. If your manliness is tied up in sexually targeting women you need to reevaluate your notions of masculinity and, more importantly, of humanity.
This behavior isn’t cool, it’s not harmless fun, and nobody is vilifying your organizations. You’re tarnishing the very founding purpose of your organization.
These organizations currently represent the worst elements of masculinity, yet house the potential for greatness. Most of these organizations were founded on principles of justice, academic and intellectual pursuits, and socializing. But they departed from that long ago and the organizational histories from their founding have disappeared. They should be reconstituted including their national offices or just go away all together. Organizations at JMU should further the mission of the university or not exist at all. We must find a source of life and meaning beyond ourselves, recognize the inherent value of others, and transform our chauvinistic egoistical tendencies.
Faculty and staff, we must address these issues and help our students work through them. Pretending they don’t exist or bemoaning the state of college student behavior is not helpful. Part of our mission is to aid in the development of engaged citizens, we must do our part. Students – you have the influence, ability, and responsibility to speak up, speak out, and preserve the values of your organization. DO IT! We need your ethical leadership on these issues and your voice! Speak up and prevent these things from happening. We can and must be better. I believe in our ability to create a better university community!
Note – the person who leaked this letter should be commended. We must, however, urge our young men to work to prevent these things in the first place. That type of change is cultural and the intent of this post. The fraternity has also indicated it is cooperating with the investigations.