Editorial: The beginning of change

Criticism of Greek life isn’t new. The critiques are standard, emphasizing on drinking and partying, which was highlighted by the lack of attendance at the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (PHC)-sponsored Dance Marathon philanthropic event. “Ratios” for men to be admitted into a party and thus the implied objectification of women is another issue, as noted in Letters to the Editor seen in this issue.

Yet the buzz continues. Is change happening? On a national scale, the result is varied. Some universities have been proactively addressing this issue. However, at other universities, this isn’t the case. At the University of Virginia, it seems like there is not a push for change in the potential effects of the Greek system, but rather a steadfast resistance to it.

On our campus, it seems that change is beginning. There is conversation—we received a Letter to the Editor addressed to IFC and PHC, which sparked from discussion among students at the BSG Campus Climate Panel. Furthermore, there was a response from IFC and PHC. Dialogue is an imperative first step to change.

But the campus has even seen small initiatives to address the issues prominent within the Greek system. Title IX Coordinator Barbara Martin held mandatory information sessions with every Greek organization on campus about sexual assault and the resources available to students who have experienced it. Education is one of the most impactful catalysts of change. On a broader scale than that of just Greek life, BSG hosted a Student Input Drive to further engage students in the Campus Climate conversation.

While we certainly aren’t there yet, our campus has seen progress toward change. The campus has moved past mere discussions of the issues at hand and toward implementing small but real changes. In “UVA’s repeated failure to act on sexual violence finally surfaces,” Jordan Walker ’17 perfectly conveys the takeaway of these issues: “The problem here lies in the shaping of cultural norms among all college students—not just in fraternities—over what is right and wrong and when to draw the line at social events. Just as students can easily be peer-pressured, they can also be catalysts for positive change; but it starts with the standards that must be set by the administration.” As PHC President Erica Shartle ’15 and IFC President JT Engels ’15 indicate in their Letter to the Editor, change is possible only with the help of both leaders and participants. It is a group effort, one on behalf of the student participants, the student leaders, and the administration. We all must take part in implementing change.

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