Sig Ep Rape Wish-list

by on January 9th, 2015
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Last month, there was a story that was disturbing and personal to me that received very little coverage from the major media. The small story shined a light on an alarming incident of degeneracy by members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Vermont.

In mid-December, as the fall semester at UVM was drawing to a close, the national fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon and the university suspended and closed the campus chapter after a survey was circulated among members asking them whom they would like to rape. A student, who should be commended for having good, moral principles, reported the questionnaire.

After reports came out about the list FED UP Vermont, a Burlington feminist coalition, taking the moral high road, posted an online petition seeking to close the fraternity chapter. The petition and pressure from other groups got Sig Ep nationals to close the irresponsible chapter within days after the list surfaced.

The school is investigating how widely the survey was distributed. The campus police department is still trying to resolve whether any crimes were committed in spreading the list.

There are some idiotic acts by college aged males that you hear and you simply say to yourself, ‘oh, that’s just boys being boys'; but something like making a rape wish-list-it’s a showing of repulsive thoughtlessness that makes the normal and rational person take pause.

I was a Sig Ep in college and when I heard the news about this list, I was appalled. I wasn’t a member of the UVM chapter but after reading the story I still felt riled. All members of Sig Ep share a bond that people outside of Sig Ep would not understand, and when members of a chapter, no matter how far away, do something as brainless as this, it reiterates all the stereotypes of how the majority outside of fraternities view us.

There are a lot of truths to the “Animal House” frat boy culture. When I think back on some of things I did when I was in Sig Ep, I’m not proud of all of it by no means; although the good things I did when I was a member: taking the plunge into a leadership role, trying to be a balanced man and doing things for the community, outweigh by a hundred any of the embarrassing things I may have partaken in.

There are some things in frat boy culture that people shake their heads about and they’re aware it goes on, like partying and drinking till sunrise, having girls in your room past curfew, the occasional prank or hazing that goes too far; but creating a rape wish-list, that’s frat boy culture that’s run off the rails.

It’s important for older members in a fraternity to teach the younger members about the importance of respecting women. Not just on campus, but anywhere. Suppose the reckless list makers managed to get the list into the hands of a girl who had been a victim of rape, or a young man who may have had a rape victim in his immediate family.

It’s startling to think that these young members came up with the idea for this list, actually put it down on paper and handed it out like rape is some trivial thing to laugh about and exploit for some sick college flight of the imagination.

There are things twenty something frat guys say to one another in private about girls that can be sometimes crude; however if I was a current Sig Ep and I had been in the same room with a another member who merely mentioned the idea of a rape wish-list, that someone wouldn’t be a member a Sig Ep for very long.

Can college-aged people today not process the fact that when they post something ugly on Facebook or Twitter, or print something off and give it out to fellow students, that the results can have very harmful consequences? Making a paper survey is crude, but hatefulness is hatefulness no matter what means of communication an adolescent minded person chooses to use.

I like to think that we live in a more thoughtful society where others show restraint in being judgmental and cruel to one another. Maybe I’m naïve. It’s possible that young adults have always had such spitefulness in their hearts, now they just have more access to technology to help spread their malice on a larger scale.

Closing the chapter was a justifiable punishment, nevertheless the university should go one step further and consider expelling the members that conceived and distributed the malicious wish-list during the spring semester at UVM.

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