Op-Ed: Greek Life Institutions Condone, Cover Up, and Reinforce Bad Behavior

It’s been quite strange to be abroad during what I am sure is a time of heated discussion and debate. I wish that I could be there in Sharples with you all, hearing all of the sides of the argument … but unfortunately, I am instead sitting in the library at the University of St Andrews in Scotland—an institution which, incidentally, has an amazing party scene despite its lack of frat houses or frat culture.

As I wade through the masses of coverage about the referendum issue, I’ve noticed that there seems to be something of a pattern emerging within the comments section.
COMMENTER A: “I have had _______ bad experience in/related to the fraternities.”
COMMENTER B: “I’m sorry that this happened to you. But what does it have to do with Greek life?”
COMMENTER C: “Why are you holding the frats responsible for the actions of a single individual? Surely we would still have irresponsible individuals even if we did away with the institution of the fraternities.”

These comments are hard for me to read, because they ignore the fact that the fraternities as institutions do work to cover up, to silence, and to reinforce bad behaviors perpetrated by individual members.

This is not an accusation that I make lightly. I say this based on personal experience, which I will relate here. Before you call me out for making this inappropriately personal, or for turning to an Op-Ed rather than an official channel: when this happened, it was reported to the Deans. I met with Dean Karen Henry as well as speaking with Public Safety and the Swarthmore Police. The communication between me, the Deans, and DU was active, albeit unsatisfying.

As a freshman, I was asked to the DU formal by a DU pledge who I did not know beforehand (let’s call him Mr. DU). Even though I didn’t know Mr. DU, I knew several other DU brothers and pledges and thought them all to be great people. I had gone to DU and enjoyed it. Basically, it sounded like a great idea. Mr. DU and I got a Sharples meal together, and got to know each other as people a little more so that the formal wouldn’t be too awkward.

But on the day of the formal, I woke up and realized that I was dreading going to the formal. I had a lot on my plate academically as well as emotionally, and to top it off I was getting sick—not exactly a party mood! When I texted Mr. DU to say that I was sorry I couldn’t make it, he said that he was coming to find me because we “needed to talk.” I told him that I didn’t want to talk to him—but somehow, he found his way into my dormitory.

In our confrontation in the lounge, he yelled at me, lectured me, and menaced me. It was frightening, and I did not want to be a part of it or let someone treat me that way. He was out of control and very angry. I essentially ran away from the confrontation and hid in a friend’s closet. My hallmates commendably stood up to him, kept asking him to leave, kept an eye on him, and when he remained belligerent called Public Safety. Public Safety ultimately had to call the Swarthmore police in order to get the situation under control—which is the nice way of saying that the police physically had to remove Mr. DU from the building and tell him that if he came back he would be arrested. (He was seen stalking around the dorm later that day, but when he was recognized he left before the police could be called.) No one was hurt physically, and I am still in awe of the hallmates who were so willing to help protect me.

So, to sum up: scary situation, police involvement, but ultimately just a close call. I know many stories that are much worse than mine, and although I am loathe to say that I am “lucky” to have had this encounter (as opposed to a more violent one) I recognize that this is far from the worst thing that could have happened.

So why am I so upset? Because of how I was treated by DU brothers afterwards.

In the days and weeks after this confrontation, every DU brother I knew came to me to “talk about what had happened.” In reality, they were checking to make sure that I wasn’t going to be too vocal about the fact that Mr. DU—who they had chosen to initiate on the same day that the police forcibly removed him from my residence—had behaved in a less-than-admirable fashion. It was not subtle. One of them asked directly, “So, you’re not like, planning on making this into some big thing, are you?”  The conversations were all alike, and the brothers sometimes even used identical phrasing as they talked to me. These were not concerned friends. These were PR representatives in damage control mode, and their biggest concern was making sure that I stayed quiet.

Genuinely, I am not upset about what happened with Mr. DU. At the time it was scary, and it was definitely weird, but it did not get under my skin. What upsets me was the coordinated and sleazy fashion in which DU organized its brothers to seek me out, to encourage me not to “make a fuss,” and to defend the newly-initiated Mr. DU rather than to denounce his behavior. When faced with an individual’s inappropriate behavior, these “brothers” banded together in his support rather than speaking up to say that his actions were inappropriate. I was told by every one of these brothers that Mr. DU was “a great guy,” and not one of them acknowledged that what he did was wrong. The striking similarities between all these conversations suggest that they were coordinated by the fraternity, rather than individual efforts by those who sought me out.

In other words: because other “brothers” came to Mr. DU’s defense, the unacceptable behavior of one individual was ultimately condoned by the institution of DU as a whole. It is this kind of behavior—coordination, coercion, silencing—that has led me to be disgusted by the presence of fraternities on our campus for the past two years. I still have friends who are frat brothers (both DU and Phi Psi) and as individuals I admire them all. It is the behavior of these institutions as a whole that I find unacceptable, and it is for this reason that I feel that the referendum is necessary.

Op-Ed submitted by Marian Firke ’14


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112 comments

  1. 0
    '12 Alum says:

    I felt compelled to send the following email to President Chopp and Dean Braun:

    Dear President Chopp and Dean Braun,

    I am xxx, Swarthmore College Class of 2012.

    Normally, I would not be compelled to write an email to both of you.
    But today, I am.

    In light of the campus-wide debate/discussion that is currently occurring on Greek life, in particular, the role of our two fraternities in sexual assault, harassment, and silencing on campus, I felt compelled to write this email to encourage the Swarthmore administration to take a serious and firm stance against such acts and make clear to all members of the Swarthmore community that such acts will not go unpunished.

    I felt disappointed when I read Marian Firke’s ’14 recent op-ed in the Daily Gazette

    (http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2013/02/24/op-ed-marian-firke-14/)

    She states, in the comments section,

    “I deliberately refrained from discussing the response of the “administration” (read: the one dean who was involved in this incident) in any depth, largely because my experiences working with Dean Henry through the Women’s Resource Center last year were very rewarding and at the time that I wrote this I did not want to damage that relationship. However, her response was virtually identical to that of the fraternity brothers. While I obviously don’t have this remark on tape, I do remember her saying to me, “I mean, you can make a fuss about this if you really want to, but don’t you think that would just cause more problems than it would solve?” From what I have heard from other students, this is not an atypical response to complaints ranging from this relatively minor one up through some much more serious situations. However, I really can’t comment on those other situations–I can only comment on my direct experience with her.”

    I am disappointed by the Swarthmore administration’s role in covering up and silencing victims of harassment like Marian and victims of sexual assault. Statements like those by Dean Henry only condone such behavior and actions and create the image that the administration is turning (perhaps even willing to turn) a blind eye to such crimes.

    I am not arguing for the Swarthmore administration to ban Greek life on campus–that is up to the Swarthmore student body.

    What I am arguing for is that there needs to be some serious reforms to the way that the Swarthmore administration handles and supports students who are victims of sexual assault, harassment, and/or bullying.

    First, the people who victims turn to, the Deans, should not be giving advice like Dean Henry’s. It is not the responsibility of the Deans to make decisions or force upon decisions to victims.

    Secondly, the Swarthmore administration must work to encourage victims to report crimes and then, administer the appropriate punishment/disciplinary action, which can include forced leave of absence, expulsion, and even jail time. The Swarthmore administration must make extremely clear to the student body (and especially to the fraternities) that perpetrators of such crimes will face severe punishments.

    I think Dean Bock once said that Swarthmore does not make admissions mistakes. I assure you that he is incorrect. Swarthmore does make mistakes and the sooner the administration realizes this, the better for the entire community. Those perpetrators, those victimizers, are admissions mistakes. When I have children of my own, and I want to send them to Swarthmore, I don’t want to send them to a Swarthmore where perpetrators and victimizers are allowed on campus.

    Swarthmore is an intellectual community. What does that mean? That means that we are a vocal community, unafraid and unashamed to share ideas and tackle difficult issues. If the Swarthmore administration continues to support a culture where sexual assault and harassment are ignored and go unpunished, Swarthmore ceases to become that intellectual community. A silent community is not an intellectual one.

    I am sure that both of you are very well aware of the ways that the Amherst College administration handled sexual assault and harassment cases and look where that took them. Amherst will be remembered as, “Oh, that college that doesn’t care about its students being sexually assaulted.”

    I love Swarthmore, and I care deeply about its intellectual mission. I do not want it to be shamed in the way that Amherst was.

    I realize that this issue of sexual assault on college campuses is a national one. That is why I would like to see the Swarthmore administration take leadership, take a stand, on this issue and initiate serious reforms. If reforms are not enacted, it is only a matter of time before Swarthmore becomes the next Amherst.

    As President of Swarthmore College and Dean of Students, both of you and the Swarthmore administration have a serious responsibility to make reforms in the administration’s handling of sexual assault, harassment, and bullying. I would like to see a Swarthmore that works to minimize sexual assault, harassment and bullying, a Swarthmore where victims feel safe to come out with their stories, and a Swarthmore that does not turn a blind eye and brings appropriate punishment to those responsible.

    For more suggestions on improvement and reforms, ask the Swarthmore community, especially victims of sexual assault, harassment, and bullying. And I really hope that both of you are taking some time to follow the discussions on the Daily Gazette.

    Thank you.

      1. 0
        knave says:

        Perhaps to encourage others, who have noted the administrations response to bullying/harassment in this specific case and feel that it may indicate a broader pattern of recommendations/dissuasions to students in these situations, to contact President Chopp?
        Speaking as an alum who has dealt with these kinds of conversations with the administration, I am completely unsurprised by their response in this circumstance. The response from Dean Henry is unfortunately very familiar.

  2. 0
    Jack's objective new friend says:

    As an addendum to my prior comment-it may also mean that both the Frats and Marian thought different things happened that night. #justathought

    1. 0
      If that's true says:

      The frats knew that they had a different view of what happened that night; they sent brothers to Marian to make sure she wasn’t going to spread her view of what happened.

  3. 0
    Jack Yang says:

    Some people approached me with the question of “What happened” or “You are one of the last people I thought was Mr DU”. So I think it may be necessary to chip in a short narrative of my experience.

    Instead of writing a long paragraph of what I think happened, I’ll just point out some discrepancies in Marian’s original account.

    (1) I went to Wharton because I was worried and I hoped I could convince Marian to change her mind. I heard from friends that she had a terrible day, and that was why she canceled the plan on the prom day. (Although instead of making her feel better, I made it worse.)

    (2) When Marian and I were talking ( “yelled at me, lectured me, and menaced me” ), it was her friend who interrupted us. Then Marian went back to her room, and her friend asked me to leave. ( I should have done what she asked me to do )

    (3) What got me mad was Marian’s friend threatened me to call the public safety to remove me, and then she did call, and what’s worse was the she lied to the public safety. According to public safety officers, she told them that I invaded into Marian’s room and acted violently. BUT, I didn’t. The closest I was to her room was the hall, and most of the time I sat in the common area.

    (4) I mainly had a fight with the public safety. At the time, I believed that they cannot treat me like a criminal just because a person lied. The public safety later went to question Marian and her other friends who were in the room, and all of them COVERED UP the girl who called the public safety in the first place. All of them lied to the public safety. The officers later told me that he understood the situation, but he couldn’t do otherwise, because in the end, i don’t live in that dorm.

    (5) I was not physically removed from Wharton. The public safety did call Swarthmore police, because I told the public safety that they can’t physically touch me when I didn’t do anything. But since I wouldn’t agree to leave the room based on the false testimony from Marian’s friend, they called the police. When the police came, I understood I had no choice, so I left voluntarily. I also had a nice conversation with the two public safety offericers and the Swarthmore police officer outside Wharton, telling them my version of the story.

    (6) I did not stalk around Wharton. I went to Sharples directly after the incident, and had dinner with my friends.

    I totally understand Marian has her perspective, and I feel terribly sorry that this incident that happened 3 years ago still had a tremendous impact on her. If I were back in that situation again, I would not have lingered around. I should have just taken “no” as a “no”.

    Also, I want to thank my friends who have been supporting me for the past two days. I understand Marian’s purpose is to use this incident as an example to shed light on the bigger issue. Especially when she wrote the article, she assumed I’ve already dropped out of Swarthmore under some disciplinary issues. But I hope she understands that an Op-Ed has brought me some trouble and I hope she doesn’t mind I write this comment to share my narrative.

    I appreciate everyone taking the time to deeply discuss the accountability issues of some Swarthmore communities. I just hope we can leave individuals, especially those whose lives can be influenced, away from the spotlight, and get back to a more healthy and constructive conversation.

    1. 0
      ER says:

      Here is the paragraph Marian wrote with the comment about the disciplinary decision:

      February 25, 2013 at 5:32 am
      I don’t believe that Mr. DU actually goes to Swarthmore anymore, but I believe that was his choice and not in any way related to this incident. (As far as I know, he made the decision to leave Swarthmore in order to manage a buisiness that he owned/owns.) He may have left as the result of another disciplinary decision, but it would not have been related to this case. I’m fairly certain that he was a member of DU until he made the decision to leave.

      You also conveniently ignore Jack’s point #8 in which Marian or her friends approached a DU brother for help. #jussayin

    2. 0
      Marian '14 says:

      Hey Jack,

      You are welcome to contact me via email to discuss what happened. I want to be clear, again, that my goals with this Op Ed were:
      (1) To comment on a situation in which members of a Greek organization encouraged me not to talk about an issue concerning one of their members,
      (2) To express my concern that this behavior appeared semi-organized or organized, and linked to the institution to which they belonged,
      and (3) To further dialogue on campus about why Greek organizations should not seek to silence people who are injured by individual members, but rather how those organizations might work for more positive good. (For some examples of responses I would have preferred, you can see my comment further up in the comment thread.)

      Again, I admire you for being honest about your identity and for coming forward-it was not my intent to put you in a situation where you felt that was necessary, and I avoided using your name precisely so that your reputation would not be affected by this Op Ed.

      To put it more plainly: In spite of what happened in 2010, I have actively worked to protect you from potential backlash from this story while still conveying my concerns with regards to the behavior of the other brothers involved. I am sorry if this has put you in a difficult situation, and I hope that my supportive comments have been somewhat helpful in this respect. (Being abroad, there is obviously not much else I am able to do.)

      As a clarification about factual concerns:
      Bearing in mind that I was literally in a closet for some of these events, including your departure from Wharton, I have had to rely on the verbal reports of others (including the police officers who were present) for my understanding of what transpired in those moments. My description of these moments is therefore only as good as the accounts that I was given by people who were eyewitnesses, and although I did ask multiple people to describe what happened I would like to acknowledge that this was the case. Likewise, the report that you were outside the building was second-hand (“was seen,” as opposed to “I saw” in the original writing) as at that time I was sick in the bathroom, quite badly shaken. I regret very much that I seem to have trusted unreliable sources for these two pieces of information.

      As stated, I was not present when my hallmate called public safety. However, I do know that your arrival at Wharton was subsequent to my text message request not to see you. I was not in a common area when you came and found me in Wharton, and your demeanor and volume were aggressive and threatening. Understanding how others perceive yourself and your own actions can be really challenging, particularly when one is upset, so the manner in which your words and gestures affected me may have been different than how you intended them. I feel that many of our differences in interpreting these events may stem from this.

      Beyond these clarifications, I do not wish to comment further on the specifics of our interaction that day. The dialogue about Greek (and social) life at Swarthmore has continued to move on, and I would like to continue productive conversations that continue building the “mosaic” of experiences that Parker and Hannah have helped to form. Greek life has represented very different things for the different voices in this conversation: rejection, exclusion, intimidation, silencing, acceptance, love, and inspiration. I would love it if our conversation could focus on how to promote more of the latter ones with less of the former ones.

      I agree with you that this overall conversation should be about how groups at Swarthmore (Greek and otherwise) can hold one another accountable for their actions rather than attempt to rationalize them away to the parties affected. Again, it was for this reason that I have repeatedly asked commenters to cease speculating about your identity, have thanked you for your willingness to step forwards, and have attempted to clarify misunderstandings within the comments. If you have further concerns, again, I would be willing to address them with you via email.

    3. 0
      Jack Yang says:

      I just want to add

      (7) The school administration did approach me, and certainly approached Public Safety. I think the reason why they dropped the case was (a) I apologized and realized the problem. I wanted to make amendment. I since then have never talked to Marian. Certainly, Marian blocked my phone call and removed me from facebook. So I wrote an email and a text message to apologize.

      (8) It was them who first approach a DU brother to help them. He later talked to me and warned me of the seriousness of my behavior. I also believe that he went back to them and explain to them. I am not aware of the fact that a lot of people talked to Marian.

      (9) In my incident, I don’t believe that the DU community covered me up. The reason why I was not tried or punished because the agreed narrative of the incident was not what Marian wrote in the Op-Ed. I believe that the school did have a record of the case.

      1. 0
        Jack's objective new friend says:

        I hadn’t known Jack when this event happened. When brainstorming who Mr. DU could be, I am pretty sure that people who left campus for some time brought him up but I quickly discounted that idea because It didn’t make sense for this nice kid I got to know pretty well to be violent, and a creeper. Thanks for clarifying!

        As an intro psych student, I learned in lecture today how we interpret things in real time-and based on what we are told, perceptions can be very different. While catching up on the readings, I read that memory is also a very social process where we tend to dramatize, de-emphasize amd forget certain things. This doesn’t say some event like this didn’t happen at all- something clearly happened-but it is more likely a bit worse than what Jack says and a bit better than what Marian says – depends on who iterated the story more.

        This by no means suggests that DU wasn’t exactly doing the right thing in interactions with Marian following the formal.

  4. 0
    Hannah Grunwald says:

    Marian I am overwhelmed with how thoughtful and moderate you are being here– I know this event must have provoked an enormous amount of negative emotion and it is so amazing to see you putting that aside for the sake of a fair minded and careful argument about what’s really at stake here. I’m so proud of you for being so strong and also so considerate

  5. 0
    Claris '13 says:

    Thank you so much, Marian (and Jack), for your courage and openness in sharing about your experience.

    Between Parker and Marian’s experiences and the anonymously voiced dissent of other commenters, it seems that a resounding concern is the strong allegiance members of Greek Life have to one another and their reputation as members of an institution. The difficulty (and danger) arises when allegiance to one’s group, whether it be a fraternity, cultural organization, or a friend group, becomes more important than addressing the offensive/potentially harmful actions of an individual group member. At least this is how I understand the presented situations.

    According to a previously posted comment, it seems members of DU did have a dialogue with the individual concerning his actions. However, what seems to have disturbed Marian, and many others, is the instinctive reaction of (certain) members within DU to protect their own rather than to acknowledge that someone’s space and security had been violated.

    So the question, at least for me, becomes whether members within an institution, such as Greek Life, can be encouraged to value the well-being of those part of the larger community (Swarthmore) above the well-being of the institution they identify with and their allegiance to fellow peers within the institution. I don’t know how practical this is or what this would actually look like, but I think it could potentially change how a group member’s offensive actions are handled by other members within the group.

    Does this make sense? Thoughts, Swarthmore?

    1. 0
      Osazenoriuwa Ebose ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      This comment is insulting and in no way needed at all. I am personally offended by the insinuation that the women in Kappa Alpha Theta are all prostitutes. Please attempt to think before you speak, you have no foundation or credence in that grossly misplaced comment.

      1. 0
        Chelsea says:

        To be fair, the “sorostitute” differs from the prostitute in that she possesses a keen insight into which fraternity brother exhibits the best future earning potential.
        This insight is typically cultivated from extensive research into the fluctuations of career trends. One year’s future lawyers might take precedent over doctors, but then the power of HMOs wavers and the doctor’s stock is up. Future I-Bankers, of course, rule over all.

        1. 0
          CD '15 says:

          I bet you think you’re really funny, but comments like yours do little to foster any kind of positive discussion regarding greek life. I’m both astounded and disgustd by your insensitivity.

      1. 0
        Rise And Fire says:

        So you just assume that I self-identify as human? It’s like you haven’t taken more than three Gender & Sexuality seminars here. Maybe you’d be more comfortable in the Stone Age.

          1. 0
            Rise And Fire says:

            You openly disrespect the legacy of Leslie Nielsen, and you have the temerity to indict ME?! Do not, and I repeat do NOT, call me Shirley.

  6. 0
    Huzilla says:

    Without trying to place blame on Jack and Marian, it seems like the two of them have different opinions of what happened that night.

    While I understand that everyone is interested in their stories for the sake of our community, maybe the fact that two of them have different views on what happened is an important reminder to all of us, regardless of our views on this issue, to not always believe everything we hear.

    I appreciate both Marian and Jack’s frankness on this very personal issue, but this did happen three years ago and it seems like neither of them have talked with the other very much since then.

    1. 0
      Ummm says:

      There are a lot of problematic things in this comment that I would like to unpack…

      1. “Different versions of what happened.” You’re minimizing what happened by suggesting that it was all a misunderstanding, or the OP blowing something out of proportion. Also, Marian’s article makes it pretty clear that there were other people who saw and were threatened by the original incident. I don’t want to say that those people need to talk about it, but I’m guessing Marian probably wouldn’t have posted the article unless she knew that other people had seen and been affected by things in the same way she had.

      2. “to not always believe everything we hear.”
      This is a blatant case of encouraging people not to believe people who come forward and an excellent example of why Marian wrote the Op Ed in the first place. By telling people not to believe people who come forward, you are promoting a culture of silence around issues of abuse. By telling survivors that they will not be believed if they speak up, you are perpetuating a system that makes it near impossible for them to bring assailants to justice. This may be the most disgusting post I’ve read on this thread (yes, you even rank below the one about Doritos pussy.)

      3. You are derailing from the central issue, which Marian has stated and restated in both the article and the comments. Why did the fraternity think that it was appropriate to check with her that she wasn’t going to make a big deal out of what happened? The main issue is the way that the brothers handled the situation. By trying to shift away from the main point of this conversation, you’re trying to cover up the fact that your response was to assume that something was a misunderstanding or a lie rather than to actually look at and address the central issues at hand.

      1. 0
        Ouch Umm! says:

        Three years ago, when this happened, I heard a different story on what happened from someone who was there. Should I completely discount what I heard previously? I hate victim blaming as much as the next person, but Marian’s account makes Jack look like a violent sociopath!

        As to your third point, which I think is a valid one, I think others have commented on that more eloquently than I can further below.

        1. 0
          Marian '14 says:

          It wasn’t my intent to portray him as “a violent sociopath,” and I have deliberately tried to emphasize that this was a “close call” with no physical harm to myself or any of my hallmates. The situation was largely in the hands of Public Safety (and then the Swarthmore Police) so the response what they felt was appropriate to the situation.

          I don’t want to make the DG comments section excessively personal or bogged down in specific details, but if you have concerns you should feel free to email me on my SwatMail.

  7. 0
    Call Me Crazy says:

    I have a friend, who doesn’t go to Swarthmore, and was sexually and physically assaulted by an distant friend of hers. She is an incredibly strong, talented young woman, and decided to tell her friends what had happened. This was highschool, and word spread really quickly–soon everyone knew what had happened, and while no one questioned the validity of the story they knew who to blame.

    Sure enough, his friends, male, female and his girlfriend, approached her to mitigate the circumstances, ask her not to press charges, begged her to “think of his future,” etc.

    Are we saying that friends won’t take the assaulters side unless it’s within a fraternity? It seems that this despicable behavior of “damage control” isn’t only found within fraternities. Can we say that this wouldn’t happen if, say, a non-greek-affiliated man assaulted a woman?

    1. 0
      name says:

      Granted, this could happen outside of an institution, it’s inherently problematic that it happened under the umbrella of an institution, in the name of an institution (refering to cleaning up DU’s name) and condoned by an institution. That is a huge difference in my eyes.

      1. 0
        Call Me Crazy says:

        But Jack was approached by brothers who thought it wrong. I sincerely doubt that at a chapter meeting, DU brothers got together and said “this is what we will say to Miriam.” Individual agency is also important to look at.

    2. 0
      '12 says:

      I totally agree. I’m not a member of the Frats by any means but I’ve been friends with Jack for a few years and I definitely think he deserved another shot to learn from his mistakes. I couldn’t care less about what happened to DU’s reputation but as others have said, Jack is a good guy who made a bad decision. I think it’s very likely that public safety and the deans and all the other people who are being blamed in this story probably came to the same conclusion as me.

      1. 0
        Marian '14 says:

        I just want to clarify something here: I am not blaming Public Safety or the Deans for what happened. (Perhaps I should have been more explicit: THANK YOU to Public Safety and THANK YOU to the Swarthmore Police for keeping me and my hallmates safe!) The point of this article, again, was to give a concrete example of how a group of people organized themselves to tell me to be quiet.

        And another thing: I was obviously under pressure from multiple parties not to “make this a big thing,” but the decision not to pursue charges or disciplinary action was mine. So the person who thought Jack deserved another chance was, in fact, me. I certainly hope that this is conveyed in my comments to and about him, throughout both the article and this comment thread.

      2. 0
        Call Me Crazy says:

        Not exactly my point–whether Jack deserves or deserved another chance is not what I’m thinking about.

        My point is that fraternal bonding that results in protection of assaulters could easily happen outside of an institution.

    1. 0
      Ana '13 says:

      Not sure why this is being downvoted. Yes, it’s a good thing to own up to your previous actions and apologize for them – however, the fact remains that he acted in an “emotional and reckless” (read: violent) manner, and unless something’s missing, it seems that, despite all the reflection, he hasn’t apologized to her for his actions in three years … until the issue goes public and his Greek institution’s existence is potentially on the line.

      While it’s very true that everyone makes mistakes, and owning up to them is a good thing (so, sincere kudos for doing so), questioning the timeliness of the apology is not an invalid point.

        1. 0
          Marian '14 says:

          FYI the times posted next to comments reflect when they were submitted but not when they were approved–there’s often a delay while they wait in a queue to be approved by DG moderators. You may have already figured this out, though, since I’m guessing you wouldn’t have posted this unless you could not see Ana’s retraction. 😉

    2. 0
      Marian '14 says:

      See my comment above. He apologized via text message at the time, which, given the fact that I felt uncomfortable seeing him face-to-face at that time, was essentially the closest thing to telling me in person. I don’t want to mis-represent Jack’s behavior in this incident; again, it is the behavior of his brothers that I am concerned with. I’m sorry for how personal this has become-my intention was to move the dialogue about group culture forward, not to bog people down the the details of a personal history about which I bear no ill will!

    3. 0
      Jack Yang says:

      Yes, I did. I probably didn’t understand the severity of the problem until about a year after, but I certainly did right after the incident. And I don’t feel like apologizing again under her article is unnecessary. More importantly, I feel it is unfair for DU and all the DU brothers to take the blame when it was only my personal misbehavior.

      1. 0
        '10 observing says:

        I think Marian’s point is exactly that it wasn’t only your personal misbehavior, that in fact the response to Marian from multiple DU representatives who seemed to be acting in a semi-official capacity was inappropriate, and that those actions were also blame-worthy.

  8. 0
    Jack Yang says:

    Dear Marian,

    Some of my friends emailed me this link and asked me to read this article. Despite of what they think how I will respond, I want to first apologize for my behavior that happened back in Fall 2010. Ever since the incident, I’ve had a lot of reflection on it. It is clear to me that I was too emotional and reckless. An educated person would have never done that. It did not act up to the standard of a Swarthmore student, and certainly not to the standard of a DU brother.

    Although our narratives of the incident would differ quite a lot due to different perspectives, I’m again sorry for the experience you had, and the attitude you’ve since had towards DU and all fraternities.

    However, there is something I’d like to clarify regarding to how DU treated the problem. Right after the incident, I was approached by a DU brother who’s also a close friend of mine. He very harshly criticized my behavior, and gave me constructive suggestions. He was not alone, many other DU brothers either talked to me, or emailed me about how I was wrong, and expressed disappointments. I was not aware of the fact that they approached Marian. But since I know now, I’d like thank those brothers who helped me. Thus again, Marian, I’m sorry.

    I took a leave of absence from Swarthmore after Spring 2011, and went back to my home to build an internet startup. I was recently back to finish my education. During my leave, a lot of the things I learned at DU have inspired me. For example, I have always been inspired by the generosity of those Swarthmore Alumni who’re also DU men: McCabe, Sharples, Underhill, Peaslee, Hallowell, etc… Not only did they achieve success personally, but also remembered to give back. I wish one day I could do the same.

    Every mistake is mine, every inspiration is of DU. I acknowledge that I have made a lot of mistakes. I probably have hurt more people’s feelings. But based on my personal experience, DU has been a positive community and environment that have enriched my educational experience. At the same time, I’ve also had the fortune to get to know some more fellow Swarthmore students a great deal more.

    Maybe to many non-DU students that DU is a frat, but to me DU is more of a symbol and a source of inspiration. I’m not saying that DU brothers are perfect people who don’t f*ck up sometimes, I’m saying that the founders of DU Swarthmore chapter probably had a vision of having a close-knit community to shape average men to good men, good men to better men.

    I understand that people like symbols. People look up to Steve Jobs, JHK, Kennedy, etc. As a result, we sometimes forget that a lot of the achievements were made by a lot of individuals. I believe the same rule applies to mistakes. In this case, regardless of whether all the narratives are accurate and objective, the symbols are frats.

    But don’t forget, frats are made of many individuals, and each individual did, does, and will make mistake no matter what. The wrongs will be done with or without frats. Getting rid of frats will not eradicate the mistakes that individuals will inevitably make, but will only blame the wrong on the wrong thing, and destroy the history, tradition, and glory made possible by a lot of Swarthmore alumni and incredible men.

    I hope what I said above does not offend anyone, but can give you a personal perspective of a DU brother who made a terrible mistake and who aspires to become a better man.

    1. 0
      Hm... says:

      So I don’t want to seem unnecessarily harsh and critical, but this apology seems to me no different than the DU op-ed and similar statements that have been made throughout the past week or so.

      “Every mistake is mine, every inspiration is of DU.”
      This sounds like you’re a frat brother when it’s convenient for you. When you make a mistake, you’re a person who is magically able to remove yourself from the environment. You are in no way impacted by others around you or the cultures in which you were brought up. But when you do something good, it was the DU culture that shaped it. This is very illogical and seems like a desperate plea to protect DU’s protection.

      “But don’t forget, frats are made of many individuals, and each individual did, does, and will make mistake no matter what. The wrongs will be done with or without frats. Getting rid of frats will not eradicate the mistakes that individuals will inevitably make, but will only blame the wrong on the wrong thing, and destroy the history, tradition, and glory made possible by a lot of Swarthmore alumni and incredible men.”
      You are ignoring the fact that institutions create specific cultures that shape behaviors. A culture that condones or encourages harassment, violence, homophobia, racism, etc will influence the way that members of the institution will view those issues. Those views influence actions. Right now it is not an individual or institution, it is the two working in conjunction with one another. Just like the nature v. nurture debate. Not either…or but both…and.

      While I’m very glad that you apologized and felt that DU brothers held you accountable, that does not minimize Marian’s experience of being told to hush up for the sake of DU’s reputation. That right there is the perfect example of institutional culture condoning harassment, mistreatment, and objectification of women. You demanded that Marian come to the formal with you as if she were your property. You were possibly violent and committing stalking behavior. Your brothers covered for you essentially giving a nod of approval to other brothers who might do the same thing.

      1. 0
        Hoover says:

        I don’t mean to be overcritical or an asshole.

        ^note the disclaimer that gives me the right to say whatever the hell what I want.

        I bet you feel really powerful slinging judgement like this behind these anonymous thread comments.

        All these comments about Swat promoting shared values and a sense of community just seems like a giant farce when a comment section that should promote open and constructive dialogue devolves into anonymous critiques of a person’s actions.

        Jack owned up to a mistake he made years ago on a very public forum and simply expressed that he has had time to reflect and own up to his individual actions. I admired the courage it took to do something like that. But somehow, the only gist of what you took away from that is that his trust and support of DU is misplaced. Need I remind you that Jack was only a pledge at the time so his exposure to this so called “culture” you claim to exist within DU would have been a period of less than four months. I doubt you know Jack personally, but if you took the chance to talk to him, you’d see that he’s a very intelligent young man with his own very developed sense in how he views the world. This wasn’t the result of some culture that fostered any particular behavior. This was a guy that in the heat of the moment, overreacted.

        As for the DU brothers that approached Marian after the incident, I was unaware that this was how the situation was handled. And I think this is where the focus of the dialogue should have remained. While incidents like this do occur, I think it would be a stretch to say that this is a regular occurrence. The leadership in DU changes with elections every semester so if and when an issue like this comes up, it is most likely the current administration’s first time dealing with it in that capacity. Most recently, I’ve tried to refrain from commenting as I felt that most of what I had to say was falling on deaf ears and that the most avid followers on both sides of the ongoing referendum discussions have a lot of mutual misunderstandings.

        But from reading this place, I can say that it does seem the fraternities need to have a more transparent and systematic approach in dealing with incidents like this when they do arise. I’ll be sure to bring it up during our weekly meeting.

        1. 0
          Marian '14 says:

          Hoover, thank you for looking to the central issue, which was the DU response, rather than using peripheral information to derail the conversation. As I hope is clear from my comments throughout this thread, my primary goal is to be constructive.

      2. 0
        Jack Yang says:

        Hi Hm…

        I cannot agree with you even more. The power of the situation. Institution can shape individual behavior. If the institution endorses “bad ” behaviors, people who are involved in the institution will therefore likely to behave “badly”.

        Although I do not disagree with your assumption, may I bring something else up?

        It is obvious to me that Swarthmore (even the great nation of USA) consists of various individuals of ethnicity, religious beliefs, different student community ( big or small), and communities. Most of the diversity and differences I respect. Many of them I understand. Some of them I belong to and share. However, isn’t it morally presumptuous for anyone to scrutinize something they don’t fully understand under the “microscope”, and claim (or imply) that they bring in “bad” culture or influence, and intend to eradicate it?

        I once believe that Swarthmore is an amazingly tolerant and liberal school, having students, faculties and staff from all walks of life. We were once a quaker school, a community of friends. Although we had our differences, we were here to learn from each other, and grow together.

        But why has it started to make me feel like because I’m part of a community that most other people are not part of (this is true almost to every student community and bodies), I and my community are being scrutinized and blamed, and threatened?

        It feels like I’m in a Japanese concentration camp back in the WWII era.

        I want to appeal to the Swarthmore students who get what I’m saying: stop being mean. If you have some problem with the frats, any individual, and any community, do this in a nice way. Nobody likes to hear that their country, their background, their communities have problems. They’d rather accept constructive advice and suggestions. Please fit yourself in the other’s shoes first, before you start to write something or say something that can hurt others.

        ( I was not particularly good at this, but this is certainly a lesson I’ve learned at Swarthmore).

        1. 0
          2cents from a senior says:

          Jack makes a very good point that I think highlights a major problem in our discussion about the fraternity system at Swarthmore. This is definitely a problem with both sides’ arguments. HE FEELS LIKE SWARTHMORE IS MARGINALIZING HIM. I don’t know if it is a bit ridiculous at a place like Swarthmore for this kind of behavior. As Hoover says, Jack is a great guy, a sentiment I agree with after I met him for the first time this semester. He has changed a lot since he was, what seems like, a pretty immature freshman. He isn’t the problem. There is obviously a problem of transparency, clear mis-perceptions and somewhat poor decision making, for which, systems should be developed to improve such decisions. For example, it may be useful to have the frats be able to check in about these sorts of issues with a dean if they already don’t to better handle such situations.

          While, yes these frats have made people feel unwelcome and tried to, for what it seemed, cover up a brother’s mistake that included making other people feel uncomfortable, it is not a reason to be completely anti-frat. It is a reason for discussion about increased transparency and increased engagement with other groups.This discussion is really a great opportunity for immature students to get feedback and grow – which is what we all come to Swarthmore for.

          In this instance, I would suggest a strong first step would be for the fraternities to fully address the remarks about racism, homophobia, rape, and the like by informing the community about what they do to avoid it currently (which I think DU has done already) and suggest some direct, doable measures to prevent anything like that from happening in the future. Then, anyone who is ant-frat should give them feedback on it. What would be stronger than abolishing the institution is to reduce the number of racist homophobes on our campus.

          Another good start, if not already done, would be an apology to Parker, Marian, and any other people who may have had a similarly unacceptable hardship.

          One more thought, Swatties can slam me on this if it comes off as completely insensitive, would be to do a completely anonymous survey – either by the deans office, SMART,DART,the fraternities, the IC, SAC, whoever-someone who can make sure change happens and maintain a fairly unbiased approach. It must have been difficult for Marian and Parker to talk about their situations with the entire campus. Clearly, a lot of people here have other problems or issues with the frats. It may be useful, for the feedback of the fraternity system, and our college campus, if more people have a way to vent that they are comfortable with. While we are in the process of finding objective problems with the frats, let’s find them all so we can build a better Swarthmore.

          Furthermore, I encourage constructive discussion, but not marginalization of either group, and certainly no name calling, or other bs – it is unproductive, and ain’t nobody got time for that (http://bit.ly/Nobodygottime), especially at this awesome school.

          I don’t know if this comment may have been duplicated but w/e

        2. 0
          LOL says:

          “great nation of the USA”

          LOL

          sorry, Jack, but no. and please, don’t compare yourself to a Japanese man in a concentration camp. when Swatties rob you of your home, of your money, of your family, you have my permission to do so.
          Oh and btw, did you know that Swarthmore accepted Japanese students during WWII? Students who would have gone to a concentration camp had they not come to Swat.
          So your comment makes no sense when it comes to Swat, sorry.

    2. 0
      Marian '14 says:

      Hey Jack,

      I was not expecting for you to even read, let alone comment on this article, so thank you for being brave and putting your name out there! I really respect that. 🙂 Since I’m abroad I wasn’t aware that you are back, but it’s good to know that things are going well with you.

      As I’ve mentioned a bit in the comments, but would like to make explicitly clear: It was never my intention to call you out personally for your actions or to try to force you to account for what happened. I included the details of the incident in order to give appropriate context for the conversations I later had with other DU brothers. It was my intention to protect your identity, and I regret that you’ve been pushed forward. I applaud you for handling this with tremendous courage and aplomb. I also regret that I failed to mention one important detail in my original article: Although none of the brothers who approached me ever apologized to me for what happened, I know that you did via text message, and that is not nothing. As I said, my main trouble is with the way I was treated by the OTHER DU brothers, rather than by you yourself.

      I am glad to hear that DU brothers approached you after the incident between us, but I am curious to learn why this information was never relayed to me. (Either at the time or in the two years that have elapsed since.) Again, I feel that more open communication is going to be a huge improvement in relationships between Greeks and non-Greeks in the future. Likewise, I am gladdened to hear that you aspire to use the community of DU as a means towards self-improvement. (We all need a bit of improving anyways, so why not reach out to the people around us to help that along?)

      However, this still does not alter the fact that, regardless of what happened behind the closed doors of DU, when brothers approached me it was to encourage me not to make a fuss. They played up the “He’s a great guy!” angle and made no mention of their conversations with you.

      I also want to put it out there: I don’t expect DU to issue a formal apology every time a DU brother makes a mistake. What upset me was that DU felt the most appropriate response was to ask me not to make a mountain out of a molehill. It was this impulse to ask me to be silent that I was (and continue to be) disgusted by. I would have understood if DU felt it was inappropriate to comment at all–but chose to approach the conversation from an unfair and inappropriate viewpoint.

    3. 0
      Sam '14 says:

      Thank you very much for sharing this perspective Jack, it’s really useful to get a feel for all sides of the story (taking nothing away from Marian’s piece). The ideas about becoming better men are powerful, and really useful to see how the fraternity feels like they deal with these incidents themselves.

  9. 0
    Lily Austin '15 says:

    Even if it’s one episode of verbal violence I would be mad if the frats did that to me, or if any group did that. When I was little there was some verbal abuse in my house and sometimes the police tried to act on behalf of me, my sister, and my Mom, but other times my Dad used his fraternal relations with police officers (from his job title) to avoid trouble from some stuff….so duh, this behavior happens all over and getting away with stuff may feel good until something too frightening happens…but if a student wishes this did not happen on a college campus and is trying to be proactive…ya’ll should try to listen and examine your privilege.

  10. 0
    WTF says:

    “excellent evidence that the female brain is indeed inferior”
    Did you just really say that? Even if you believe her opinion is wrong, do you honestly think it’s the result of her inferior female brain? Do you think this is even slightly funny? What the fuck is wrong with you people? Frats should totally be banned so that “men” like you don’t think that their penises rule the world like they’ve been made to believe.

  11. 0
    Soomin Kim '13 says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us and articulating the reasons so well!

    Although I know a lot of fraternity members, who as individuals are kind, smart and reasonable, when many of them say such comments like “Why are you holding the frats responsible for the actions of a single individual? Surely we would still have irresponsible individuals even if we did away with the institution of the fraternities”, it makes me feel really frustrated and anxious.
    As in your experience and from the anecdotes I personally am aware of, one of the big problems that fraternities as institutions have is that they are mostly focusing on covering things up in order to minimize the damage to their names instead of trying to have extensive conversations about the issues that they have and make changes from within. By allowing such offensive and violent behaviors recurring within their group structure, the frats are indirectly promoting those inappropriate behaviors – whether they are aware of it or not.

    Of course, it is not the frat’s responsibility to enlighten those individuals with problems and everyone at Swarthmore has such a diverse background that generates different kinds of perspectives and behaviors. However, I strongly believe that there need to be more active changes in the way that the Greek Life Institutions think of themselves as a part of Swarthmore College community, – not as a separate or opposing group to the rest of the campus, but as A PART OF OUR COMMUNITY.

    Also, I really hope that many students, who don’t belong to the Greek Life Institutions or are not familiar with the individuals of the group, would give a chance to those groups (and individuals of the groups) to harmoniously exist on our campus; ultimately, in a way, the frats are the minorities on progressive, independent Swarthmore campus. Before I got to know my good friends who belong to the frats, I myself had a strong prejudice against the frats because of my ignorance and stereotypes of fraternities, but getting to know them in-depth and sharing my opinions, which are most of the time quite different from theirs, with them have helped me breaking my prejudice and opening my mind.

    I hope we can continue constructive and productive conversations about the Greek Life/ social life on Swarthmore campus and eventually find the balance where we can all coexist without hateful and harmful words and behaviors!

  12. 0
    Former Resident says:

    Willets Cat, you’ve slept on my bed multiple times when I used to live in Phi Psi….

    Thank you very much, Marian, for sharing your experience. I know coming forward and sharing things like this takes a lot of courage and I appreciate your willingness to contribute. It will undoubtedly serve as another valuable piece to consider in the bigger discussion and hopefully it can be used to reach a resolution on the issue that will help Swarthmore take steps forward, regardless of what action that involves. Also, tell Nat that you both owe me a game of croquet when you both get back from St Andrews!

  13. 0
    Ana '13 says:

    Hey Marian,

    Thanks so much for writing this. I’ve been largely staying out of the fray on this particular issue because I have heavy reservations both about the current operation of the fraternities (too little transparency, too little real social visibility outside of partying), and about the idea of banning them entirely (what about other potentially unpopular student groups? What about other potentially unpopular student groups who have hosted events at which assaults have happened?).

    However, what your story (and Parker’s) tell me is that, at the very least, there need to be major reforms regarding the aims of the fraternities (that is, public safety needs to come before brotherhood). These stories also make clear the practical difference between individual power and institutional power. Without the institutional power of the fraternities, then, yes, sure, individuals like Mr. DU would still be on campus and would still be able to act violently against others; however, he would not have a network of “brothers” backing him up and making sure that his actions weren’t brought to light.

    Your experience adds a lot to the conversation, and again I’m so glad you shared.

    (Also I hope your time abroad is going wonderfully. Grapevine misses you, dear!)

  14. 0

    I’m a proud fraternity brother, and I find this article to be nothing more than feministic slander that assumes “Greek Life”–a co-ed reference–is synonymous with fraternal life. There is an inherent “mob mentality” being ostensibly associated with mutually exclusive organizations (especially since most fraternity brothers pay for their initiation with blood, sweat, tears, and in Sig Ep’s case your pledge brothers’ thumbs in your asshole). But to attribute this solely to the male component of the Greek Life system is utterly naive and offensive to our lovely gender. If you think that this is an issue of “boys will be boys” and not an issue deeply rooted in the fact it’s a bunch of partying teenage socialites vying for a finite number of attractive members of the other sex then you are excellent evidence that the female brain is indeed inferior. This is not a matter of institution but a matter ofwiring. #RollWave #FratHardorDie #PartyAtSigChiThursday

    *Proud endorser of Tom’s Dead Things Taxidermy*

      1. 0
        do your job says:

        WTF DG editors? Your moderation feature is meant to keep people like this out of the comments section? To continue letting trolls like this post comments is irresponsible.

        1. 0
          Max Nesterak ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

          Dear do your job,

          Not sure if you’re referring to Kenneson’s Swedish medieval ballad or Tulane, but both (unfortunately) are valid comments according to our policies. Naturally, these articles are drawing a lot of attention from trolls from Tübingen to Tulane. We appreciate that you, the commentors, are doing your job and helping to point out what are and are not good comments. Thumbs up to you!

          Thank you,

          Max Nesterak ’13
          Co-Editor in Chief

    1. 0
      Sara '12 says:

      “But to attribute this solely to the male component of the Greek Life system is utterly naive and offensive to our lovely gender.”

      Who claimed this? I am pretty sure no one did.

      “If you think that this is an issue of ‘boys will be boys’ and not an issue deeply rooted in the fact it’s a bunch of partying teenage socialites vying for a finite number of attractive members of the other sex then you are excellent evidence that the female brain is indeed inferior.”

      – Many people in college are not teenagers.
      – Why the assumption that everyone is looking for heterosexual things?
      – Suppose she’s wrong about everything or whatever. What’s that got to do “the female brain”? Why isn’t it just that *she* is wrong, why does it have anything to say about even just her entire brain at all, much less every female brain?

      Also, overall: you seem to go back and forth between sex and gender in a way that makes your comment even more garbled than it already is…

      1. 0
        uh.. says:

        I think this fancy frat member commented on the wrong article how does any of this relate to what we’re discussing. #soconfused #hedoesntevengohere

    2. 0
      Minor Correction says:

      I’m leaving out the major corrections to your nonsensical comment just to make sure that you know that Swarthmore is significantly economically more advantaged than Tulane. Tulane’s per student endowment is $61,618 whereas Swarthmore’s is $811,359. Just saying.

  15. 0
    Chiming in says:

    As an alum, I left just as the debate was beginning. To the OP, my deepest regrets for the actions of both our administration and student body. They were lazy and wrong. I now work at an institution that banned fraternities 100 years ago yet still manages to have an exceptionally strong, and generally, safe party scene. It’s also pertinent to mention that at this larger institution, the sense of community within groups like teams, theater crews, and dorms as well as for the whole school reverberates more strongly than at Swarthmore.

    I am disappointed that we haven’t figured out a way to retain our sense of community while also providing a variety of social options like parties for our student body. We are one of the smallest schools across the globe with a distinct sense of self. Shouldn’t we be able to exist without frats?

    1. 0
      Max Nesterak ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      While The Daily Gazette supports open dialogue in our comment sections, we do not believe they should be used to discuss specific persons. This discussion is heading towards revealing Mr. DU’s identity. We would like to encourage you to refrain from asking about and discussing more personal details about Mr. DU and save those conversations for Sharples and McCabe 1st.

      Thank you,

      Max Nesterak ’13
      Co-Editor in Chief

      1. 0
        Marian '14 says:

        Thank you Max. As I stated in the Op Ed, it’s not even the actions of Mr. DU himself that I am upset about (or that inspired me to write the article). Rather, I wanted to discuss the way that DU as a whole handled these events. His identity is not relevant to my main concern, which was the response. I have no bones to pick with Mr. DU and I wish him all the best–really.

    2. 0
      well... says:

      Nobody has asked because:

      a) This is anonymous. No one actually knows who Mr. DU is except for Marian.

      b) It’s very likely that Marian isn’t privy to all of Mr. DU’s actions or would even care to keep track.

      c) Isn’t one know episode of ‘gross’ misconduct enough?

  16. 0
    Matt says:

    So is it your opinion that the fraternities should not try to employ some “damage control” after something like this occurs? Is it also your opinion that DU sent a group of brothers out to recite the same generic lines of apology? I think that if you brought this unfortunate incident to their attention, it’s more likely that DU had a meeting and this issue was addressed. I find it entirely possible that the brothers decided that if they saw you, they should make sure to reach out to see if you were okay and offer their support. As “question” alludes to above, I think that it would have gone further if the brothers had apologized, in addition to whatever other empathetic dialog in which they engaged you. For the record, “identical phrasing” tends to be the standard in many situations, but “I’m sorry” should have been one of them in this case. This sounds like more of an issue for the police and the administration, rather than the fraternity.

    1. 0
      Shhh says:

      Why don’t you take a break from commenting for a bit, Matt.. You seem very confused, almost as though, in your urge to defend the fraternities at every turn, you have not been thinking carefully about what you’re implying with your words. I mean, serioulsy? -“I find it entirely possible that the brothers decided that if they saw you, they should make sure to reach out to see if you were okay and offer their support.” – Did you read the article or are you living off in DU-fantasyland again? Marian makes it pretty clear that the bros were doing something that was very much NOT just “reaching out to make sure Marian was okay.” They were trying make sure that the frat’s reputation would be okay. Long live DU, amirite?

      1. 0
        uninformed... says:

        Your condescending use of “bros” shows how much you understand about the brothers at DU. There exists no “bro” culture there. You think that they were reaching out in such a superficial way because that’s the way she’s perceived and articulated it in the op-ed–a perception that’s been skewed by generations of non-greeks at Swat. Year after year, according to the greater Swarthmore community, the greeks are incapable of any compassion and only spew sexual deviance. I guess every year they manage to coax all of these deviants out of the incoming freshman class–whom the admissions selected–in order to perpetuate their malicious persona/agenda. It’s just unbelievable how much you think you know about them, when in fact you have no idea. Long live DU, indeed. Their group helps contribute in a positive way to the Swarthmore and the local neighborhood, while diversifying the college. Sorry if I’m not in favor of blindly wiping out all of the groups I don’t care to tolerate.

      2. 0
        Shhh says:

        And no, why the hell would “damage control” ever be an acceptable response? OF COURSE Marian thinks that the fraternities should not employ “damage control” after something as fucked-up as this happens. Damage control is Mel Gibson’s PR team does after he goes on an anti-Semitic rant. It’s what Mitt Romney’s team does after the 47% rant leaked. Frat bros should be owning up to and punishing transgressions like this. I thought the frats taught brothers how to act like “men”?

    2. 0
      2013 says:

      It’s not her “opinion”, it’s her experience. I think Marian is fully capable of knowing the difference between offering support and keeping things under wraps. Please stop trying to explain away that experience, it’s damaging and unproductive.

  17. 0
    question ( User Karma: 3 ) says:

    Marian, would it have made a difference if those brothers came up to you and said something like “Look, we’re really sorry about what he did to you and we’re dealing with it internally, but we just wanted to make sure you were okay and that it wasn’t a big deal.”

    Basically, my question is if they had done the same thing but had apologized for his behavior and ensured that he would be dealt with, would that have solved the problem of frat brothers covering up for each other? Or is there something beyond that that you feel is institutional?

    1. 0
      Marian '14 says:

      I think it would have made a difference to me had they done something more concrete and visible. Of course, any form of apology would certainly have been preferable, but some other things that would have been nice:

      -Being contacted by some of DU’s leadership, and in an official capacity, rather than the haphazard network of brothers who I happened to know. For example, it might have felt more legitimate if I had been invited into DU to speak with the leaders of the frat about it. Although I know that invitations to the frats have become a very heated point of debate, this issue did not take place in the frats and so it would not have been directly triggering to me. (I could always have refused the offer if it made me uncomfortable, but this offer was never extended.)
      -Offering to talk to Dean Henry with me, and working together with me and her to find some sort of response to the situation that would have been more satisfying.
      -Making some sort of statement, preferably in writing (an email with me cc’ed?) to the brothers to emphasize that Mr. DU’s behavior was not acceptable.
      -Clarifying to me what, specifically, they were hoping to do to “deal with it internally.”
      -Choosing not to initiate Mr. DU (who, as I mentioned, was a pledge at the time that this happened.) This was a big issue for me at the time–it’s one thing to say that you don’t support this kind of behavior from brothers, but choosing to initiate someone after this incident? That’s a pretty literal acceptance of them and their actions!

      Then of course, there is the sad truth: No comment at all would have been preferable to their attempts to hush it up. This is not to say that I think no comment at all is the appropriate response–but I want to emphasize the point that not only was their response inadequate, it was also actively inappropriate. They didn’t just fail to respond–they actively promoted a response that was intended to cover up rather than correct a blunder.

  18. 0
    Sara '12 says:

    How scary.

    And how disappointing that not only did the fraternity apparently not help you or enact any consequences against Mr. DU, they circled the wagons.

    Honestly, shame on them.

  19. 0
    WYZ ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Before hearing these personal stories I thought this recent movement of hostilities against the frats were driven by a politically motivated few, but now I see I was wrong. However, while I do think strong actions should be taken to address concerns raised in all the recent publications, I don’t think banning Greak life on campus out right is the best solution, at least not yet.

    Even if Greek life is banned, I think the unnamed perpetrators will still be on campus and probably will still associate with the same group of people, who will probably continue to harbor and defend each other as friends do. My impression is the frats on campus are very loosely organized (Phi Psi more loose than DU) and don’t really force members to conform/associate/defend one particular type of norm/behavior unless they were willing to do it in the first place (i.e. no one is being brain washed/socialized into a kind of person that they were not/didn’t want to be before). So I don’t know how much significant good getting rid of Greek life as an institution would do in these cases without concrete actions against specific perpetrators.

    So instead of preventing two groups of mostly good people from associating with each other and enjoy life as they see fit, I think it would probably be better if the campus and administration give the frats a chance to reevaluate their positions on these issues after they have come to light. Since everyone seems to agree that the frats include mostly good people (which has to be true or Jim Bock is not doing his job right), I think given the clear choice of either discipline/give up bad elements within the frats or risk banishment as an institution, the frats would make the right choices, especially if their hands are forced. The question is whether their hands can/will be forced. Probably not if they are going to be disbanded anyways.

    So instead of an empty referendum on the existence of fraternities, maybe somebody should draft a demand for fraternity leadership to deal with the specific issues/members that are drawing hostility from a large (at least vocal) segment of campus. Administration should give teeth to such a legitimate demand by making clear that unless the legitimate demands are properly addressed, there will be consequences for the frats. Fraternity leadership should write and publish a statement apologizing for the behavior of some of its members after having disciplined them.

    This way justice will be served, values upheld, and the good frat brothers can go about their merry ways as they are entitled to do.

    1. 0
      alum '12 says:

      I agree with this a lot. Personal stories are important, but again, I don’t think they warrant disbanding the frats. The people in the frats will still be on campus, and will still have the same friends (since, as most of us know, the frats divide themselves by sport anyways, and that is a tie that will be present regardless of fraternity affiliation). In fact, if we look to Haverford, we see that they do not have frats, but they do have two party houses that are generally accepted to be the lacrosse and baseball houses. This could easily happen at Swarthmore too.

      I believe the kind of experience Marian is sharing would continue to happen even if the frats are disbanded. This is because I believe that her experience is one that could be enacted by any group of friends trying to (wrongly) protect their friend. I am not justifying the behavior, but just pointing out that disbanding the frats is not the one-stop solution.

      We should also think about what would happen to the frat spaces if the frats were disbanded. They would most likely become campus-wide party spaces, much like Paces and Olde Club. As people have pointed out before, sexual harassment experiences are not unique to the frats. Maybe we are just so focused on the frats because it is much easier to categorize these harassments as “frat-related” because we can easily identify the members of a particular frat.

      I look to the administration to keep students at Swarthmore accountable for their actions. This means transparency in the process. I want to know what the consequences are for harassment and I want to know that these processes are working. That also means that victims need to be more diligent in their reportings of assault. If we want the administration to do something about this, then we have to let them know what is happening.

      1. 0
        Marian '14 says:

        Hey, comments like this really make the dialogue less constructive. This is a pretty heated issue (and I’ve clearly got some personal investment in its outcome!) but this didn’t really add anything.

        With response to this:
        ” …demand for fraternity leadership to deal with the specific issues/members that are drawing hostility from a large (at least vocal) segment of campus”

        I think that the fraternity leadership should take it as given that this demand has been made, loud and clear, and begin work on concrete proposals to respond to these issues ASAP if they have not already. One of the other DG articles (News section, not Op-Ed) has a comment which very neatly summarizes the issues that have been raised by the 200+ comments on that article, and I think that would be a great place for the frats to start for a point-by-point approach to responding to the rest of campus.

        I also would like to address the notion that the frats are made up of “mostly good people,” and the WYZ’s objection to banning frats based on the idea that a few bad eggs are ruining it for everyone.

        In case it was not clear from my Op-Ed, I have a number of friends in the fraternities who I know to be GREAT guys! I really like and respect them as individuals. But as I think is clear from my story, there is something harmful about the manner in which they conduct themselves as a group. In other words: the problem isn’t that there are no good guys in the frats, but rather that these good guys are choosing to stand up for one another rather than take a stand against unacceptable actions of their peers. And while there are certainly still going to be perpetrators of all kinds on campus following a ban on Greek life, abolishing the institutions that promote and enable this kind of group behavior would be a huge step towards making it harder for individuals to perpetrate those unacceptable actions.

  20. 0
    Kenneson Chen '14 says:

    κῦδος, Marian, and thank you for daring to speak up despite efforts to silence you. What I admire most about your Op-Ed is your clear articulation of how brotherhood, in this instance and in these brothers’ eyes, justified the violations against you, absolved the perpetrator, and prompted a coordinated attempt at silencing you. This is a dynamic I do not want on my campus.

    No body within our social fabric should condone, coerce, or intimidate others in order to protect a member or hide his/her/their crime. This, as you said, stems from the group, not the individual and, just as the college holds individuals accountable, it is time fraternities acknowledge their obligation to hold members accountable for their actions, otherwise I cannot conjure justifications for the existence of groups that contribute to such dynamics on campus.

    And you’re definitely right about one thing – things seem to have gotten crazy (and confusing) since we went abroad. My experience with fraternities in Germany has been quite different. My program director warned me on my first day in Tübingen that, as a gay man, I should avoid fraternities inasmuch as I didn’t want to be harassed or assaulted. This, I’m glad to say, is not the case with fraternities at Swarthmore and my experiences abroad have shown me that, despite some of the nasty things being said in and around this discussion/argument, ALL of Swarthmore is, in reality, a lovely place.

    Names are powerful – use them.

  21. 0
    '14 says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and well-articulated experience, your story helps illustrate how serious the situation is. Hopefully you and Parker will inspire other students to come forward with their experiences, your courage is very admirable.

  22. 0
    AP '14 says:

    “I was told by every one of these brothers that Mr. DU was “a great guy,” and not one of them acknowledged that what he did was wrong.”

    Such a serious problem, though, the concept of refusing to acknowledge the fault of a brother. Thanks for pointing this out, Marian. Sorry for that experience to have happened.

  23. 0
    H ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    At the beginning of the greek life controversy last year, I made a point of trying to remain unbiased. The frats are not my cup of tea, I thought, but let them have their fun. Personal liberty, etc. etc.

    I find this increasingly hard to do, given the powerful stories shared by Ms. Firke and Mr. Murray.

    If you are a past or present member of a fraternity, I cordially invite you to share a personal narrative about any positive impacts the fraternity has had on you. (Not an assertion that the aforementioned stories are false. Not a defense of the brothers referenced in these stories. A PERSONAL NARRATIVE.)

  24. 0
    Concerned Student says:

    What was the administration’s response to this? Did they (hopefully) take action against this DU brother and hold him accountable? Also, importantly, is he still a member of the fraternity, or is he no longer affiliated with DU?

    1. 0
      Marian '14 says:

      I don’t believe that Mr. DU actually goes to Swarthmore anymore, but I believe that was his choice and not in any way related to this incident. (As far as I know, he made the decision to leave Swarthmore in order to manage a buisiness that he owned/owns.) He may have left as the result of another disciplinary decision, but it would not have been related to this case. I’m fairly certain that he was a member of DU until he made the decision to leave.

      I deliberately refrained from discussing the response of the “administration” (read: the one dean who was involved in this incident) in any depth, largely because my experiences working with Dean Henry through the Women’s Resource Center last year were very rewarding and at the time that I wrote this I did not want to damage that relationship. However, her response was virtually identical to that of the fraternity brothers. While I obviously don’t have this remark on tape, I do remember her saying to me, “I mean, you can make a fuss about this if you really want to, but don’t you think that would just cause more problems than it would solve?” From what I have heard from other students, this is not an atypical response to complaints ranging from this relatively minor one up through some much more serious situations. However, I really can’t comment on those other situations–I can only comment on my direct experience with her.

      I can understand what she was hoping to protect me from. Bringing an official complaint (whether that’s opening an investigation only, or opening a CJC case as well) is a very time-consuming and draining process which can often leave the complainant emotionally exhausted. Given the way in which the DU brothers banded together to support Mr. DU, it seemed likely that I would be ostracized if I attempted to “make a big deal out of it”–which is why I ultimately did not pursue anything further with the administration. However, to say that I was satisfied with this interaction would be a serious distortion of the truth.

      1. 0
        Sadly says:

        Mr. DU is most definitely still a student at Swarthmore. He is also still at brother of DU, whom I can assert is considered a positive addition to the group by a fair number of brothers.

        1. 0
          Hoover says:

          I heard TMZ is hiring. Seriously, was your intention to inform Marian (I’m sure you could have been more resourceful) or to publicly out a fellow student to advance an agenda?

  25. 0
    J '10 says:

    Wow. This is the first specific “institutionally” gross thing I’ve heard about the frats (may have missed some things, given). Super gross, exactly what should not take place… they can’t be blamed for the brother, but they can be blamed for the bullying and self-protecting bullshit afterwards. So sorry, and thanks sincerely much for sharing your story… it definitely affected this frat-ban skeptic.

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