On October 8th the Indiana University chapter of Alpha Tau Omega was shut down for alleged hazing after a video was released depicting a supposed pledge performing oral sex on a woman. To better understand the situation and its impact on the Indiana University campus, the Lala reached out to various female students on campus to hear their thoughts.
Their opinions varied greatly. Some were staunchly against Greek Life, others were active participants, all had thoughts to share and important contributions to the discussion. Below we highlight some of the key points brought up by these students in an attempt to portray a relatively accurate picture of what students at Indiana University are thinking.
On the Video
Most students we talked to indicated that they were “disgusted” or “horrified” by the events depicted while others admitted to not actually watching the video but only reading textual descriptions.
“Disgusted, repulsed, angry”
“It’s pretty disgusting. Sexual assault shouldn’t be made into a group spectacle.”
“I am appalled by the activity. To force members of a group to perform a sexual act with others watching is barbaric.”
Some surveyed emphasized that there were other issues at play in addition to the “sexual act”. A few showed genuine concern for the public nature of the video.
“I am very upset about the video being distributed, seeing as it is not yet known if this was a consensual sex act, if those participating consented to the video or if they consented to the video being released.”
“I chose not to watch it because I did not want to give it more attention or to violate privacy.”
On Greek Life
Much of the negative reaction to the video transferred to overall perceptions regarding Greek life.
“It makes Greek life look unsafe, rowdy, and like it fits the mold of stereotypical raunchy Greek behavior.”
“I think that this depicts Greek life generally as a party group that idolizes violent sexual behavior.”
“It has definitely shifted my views on social Greek life in colleges and universities, but especially those at IU. I am now very against social fraternities and sororities”
While many surveyed indicated the video created strong negative reflections on Greek life, many were also quick to point out that this was one incident from one chapter and likely does not reflect everyone in Greek life.
“I think it is a reflection on groupthink and how people feel like in order to fit in they have to do certain things against their morals. However, I realize that not all Greek life is like this and it doesn’t change my perception.”
“I think it’s a bad rep for the guys in the specific house but not for Greek life as a whole. There are thousands of members and dozens of houses involved in Greek life and in no way should we base our ideas on a community as a whole off of one houses actions.”
On Indiana University
Students reaction to how it reflects Indiana University varied greatly. Some felt that the University responded well others felt that the university should have taken more preventative action.
“It makes it clear IU does not take Greek Life seriously as a threat to campus life and is not being harsh enough with sanctions and expectations of Greek Life. “
“I think IU’s quick action against ATO indicates that we are a campus that is not tolerant of such actions.”
As a whole, students believe that this incident is not reflective of the culture inherent to the university at large.
“I do not think this accurately reflects the culture at IU. This is not something that happens on the rest of campus or even the rest of the Greek system. I am sad to see the media portray this as the culture of IU when that is not the culture I see on this campus. However, it does show that despite the efforts of the University and many campus organizations to promote respect and consent on this campus, there is still more work to do.”
We also wanted to hear how these students felt this video might relate back to general perception and treatment of women. We received widely differing responses to this question, many citing that this does not affect women as a whole because the female was indicated to be a sex worker and was “only doing her job”.
“I did not feel very offended myself because that was those two women’s choices. They want the attention of a million men and they got that.”
Other students that we interviewed recognized the potential impact this might have on women as a whole.
“I think it is degrading to women that they find that funny or a fun way to entertain themselves.”
“There were no conversations about how the video may represent the treatment of women on IU campus, there were no conversations about the consent of the woman in the video, if she had given it freely or not, and there were no conversations about the fraternity’s history with women or even sororities on campus. All the news reports focused on the male side, and the one female involved in the situation was chalked up as a willing participant, or even a stripper with very little credibility to back it up (this is regardless if it was true, there were no citations in several articles that I read). This reflects badly on the campus’s view of women, as well as the nations. […]this whole situation makes it seem like “Boys will be boys, look at what they did again” and there was no conversation about the consequences of their actions, especially against women.”
Finally some also saw the women as a non-victim in the incident instead citing her as the perpetrator.
“This video was an example of a female raping a male. She forced him to continue even when he clearly tried to stop.”
Without knowing exact details on the incident and without access to information regarding the investigation, the Lala will not side with any of these comments or support any particular view. We instead want to encourage students, faculty, and administration at Indiana University or at other campuses to use this incident as a way to create a more open discussion on how to a have a healthier, safer and stronger campus culture.
Photo by Anna Schultz