As a sorority member at Wake Forest, I attended a mandatory guest speaker event on sexual violence on Monday, September 18. Immediately following that event, I sat down and wrote this.
After Shade’s talk, I walked out of Brendle Recital Hall in silence. I slowly walked back to my dorm, brewing with frustration that left me wanting to cry.
As a young woman, I’ve sat through countless talks just like Shade’s. My all-girls high school frequently held conversations about consent and brought in guest speakers on the topic. In my health class at Wake, I’ve been lectured on consent. I’ve heard most of what Shade was saying a million times before.
Except for this statement: “Stop putting up with men’s BS.”
Shade said this to an audience of sorority women. Was she saying we are “putting up with” sexual violence? Is it our fault? How could that be true?
I can name multiple fraternities on this campus with members accused of sexual misconduct. These fraternities choose to protect their brothers over believing women who come forward. As someone with friends in fraternities, I have told them how it feels to know that there are members in any given fraternity who make women feel unsafe. I’ve pleaded with them to consider women’s perspectives when handling sexual misconduct cases. This does not change their instinct to back their brothers.
I was reminded of the many sexual misconduct cases I’ve heard about after leaving Shade’s presentation. Unfortunately, I’m knowledgeable of only a small subset of Wake’s Greek community. If I can find multiple examples of sexual misconduct in the few fraternities I interact with, who knows what the rest of campus looks like?
Targeting a talk on consent and sexual violence towards sorority women feels demeaning. A campus-wide issue cannot be solved by just sorority members. We need fraternities to be involved in the conversation.
I implore the Interfraternity Council to host speakers on consent and sexual violence and start having these conversations. Stop telling women these conversations are important while refusing to have them with men.