A student co-op (essentially a dorm that provides more affordable housing to students) at the University of Minnesota is using its outdoor landscape to send a positive message to the world and brighten other students’ days. Just kidding. The students there are actually using the space to post signs like “”Frat boys, stop raping people” and “Dear frat boys, I’ll be making signs til y’all stop assaulting people!!!”
The display began early in the spring semester. Co-op members attending various sexual violence awareness demonstrations around the Twin Cities would leave them in the yard when they returned. That gave residents an idea.
“It was like, ‘Hey, we can use this as a platform we can choose to utilize,'” says Mallory Mitchell, the co-op’s co-president. “There has to be, we believe, a culture shift in the fraternity system where the boys-will-be-boys behavior is no longer excused.”
The signs have multiplied over time. Most target sexual violence and frat houses. Mitchell says many students have expressed gratitude for the display.
“The dialogue that needs to take place is addressing the toxic masculinity that’s pervasive within the fraternity system,” Mitchell tells City Pages. “The fraternities provide a convenient environment for sexual violence.”
As I assume everybody knows, all frat boys are rapists and we should shut the whole Greek system down. Shut the whole damn thing down!
Call me crazy, but I don’t think you can say you’re trying to create “dialogue” when you’ve already come in guns blazing and ready to burn the place down. I don’t think that’s how peace talks work.
Look, Mallory. You and us? We’re not so different. We both have the same goal in mind: Reduce sexual violence on college campuses. One incident is one incident too many. But Jesus H. Christ, making signs that generalizes an entire group for the poor decisions of a very, very few is incredibly outrageous and irresponsible. Heaven forbid one of the students living in the co-op messes up and gets a DUI or something. Would a “stop driving drunk, all co-op students!!!” sign be an acceptable response? No, it would not. Should a sign like that be posted, I highly doubt you’d see it and say, “Oh yeah, true. One person messed up so that taints all of us. They got us there” either.
Also, a 10-year study by the state of Massachusetts found 81 percent of reported rapes and assaults occurred in dorms. Four percent occurred in fraternities over the same time period. Maybe we can broaden the focus and help reduce sexual violence campus wide instead of immediately picking up the pitchforks and heading to Greektown.
Not surprisingly, the Interfraternity Council isn’t happy about the signs and has filed a complaint with the Student Union and Activities. However, the SUA has ruled the signs don’t violate any university policy and will be allowed to remain up, which considering the current culture on many college campuses toward free speech is surprising but somewhat respectable. You’re not always going to like what others say, but free speech is free speech, and it’s an American right. If only that was more broadly understood…
Image via Twitter