In recent months, university students across the country – from Nebraska and Illinois to Mississippi and Massachusetts – have begun protesting and demonstrating against their universities and local fraternities. Outrage has erupted among students who have accused fraternities of promoting cultures of sexual abuse. They have also accused the universities overseeing those fraternities of doing next to nothing to intervene and protect their students.
With histories of on-campus or fraternity-enabled sexual abuse at many universities in practically every state, demonstrators in this new wave of protests see only one solution: the dismantlement of fraternities altogether. Some of their calls have been joined by other groups who have long-standing gripes against fraternities, such as groups of parents who have lost children to violent fraternity and sorority hazing rituals. Armed with social media connections not much utilized by previous generations, new students against fraternities and the “Greek Life” concept as a whole have been able to more easily organize, rally, and speak out.
But fraternities and fraternity organizations like the North American Interfraternity Conference (NAIC) are not ready to accept liability for the countless stories of sexual abuse from former and current university students. Many have pointed to continuing efforts to better report sexual assault between co-eds as a defense to any wrongdoing. Others like a spokesperson from the NAIC have said that blaming fraternities at all is a misled venture because the underlying issue is rooted in America’s educational society as a whole.
How Often Does Sexual Abuse Happen in Universities?
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) has reported that more than one in four female undergraduates or 25% will be sexually abused, assaulted, or raped while attending university. By its estimations, about 15% of male undergraduates will also be harmed through sexual assault, oftentimes by other males in fraternity hazing rituals.
While the estimations are already harrowing, it is even more concerning when considering that the number is likely higher. Many sexual abuse survivors feel too afraid to speak up and report the abuse. Other survivors are coerced by their abusers or their social circles into thinking they should be ashamed to have been sexually assaulted, so they never speak out. If all university-related sexual abuse survivors were able to speak out confidently, then those percentages could probably increase significantly.
What Will Be Done to Stop University Sexual Abuse?
Protestors and demonstrators are demanding that universities do much more to hold fraternities accountable for the sexual abuse that is allegedly routinely carried out within fraternity halls. But it might take much more than a promise from university administrators to see that anything changes. In difficult situations such as this, legal action in civil courts of law can sometimes make the most headway. University students across the country should now be thinking of how to bring lawsuits against universities and fraternities, which might eventually call for a class action.
The Russell Friedman Law Group, LLP proudly stands up for university students in New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. If you want to explore your rights as a sexual abuse survivor, then please contact our law firm today. During a completely confidential and no-cost consultation, we can help determine if you can sue an educational institution or a fraternity organization for harboring your abuser. If successful, your case could result in your financial recovery and significant changes that help protect future students from suffering similar abuses. Call (855) 465-4622 to learn more.