Is Greek life the problem or solution to rape culture on UNL’s campus?

LINCOLN -- Is Greek life the problem or solution?

A series of protests at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln regarding a sexual assault allegation at Phi Gamma Delta has now inspired similar protests at the University of Kansas against Greek life, Monday. But the problem seems to be particularly severe in Lincoln, where just last week, the Lincoln Star Journal pointed out the college's low rate of arresting suspects.

Students at UNL tell NCN they want to solve the problem.

Olivia Minderman started an organization called 'KnowMore' to raise money for sexual assault survivors and resources; while also raising awareness about how to prevent it or bring justice upon rapists. Minderman's organization is focused on directly helping survivors. Close to 1,000 items were sold to raise almost $11,000 for Voices of Hopes in the last couple months.

"If you notice, about 25% of UNL's campus is Greek. If the majority of those students start doing something, it will catch on," Minderman said in reference to efforts to end rape culture. 

"Rape culture is something on its own -- it's a part of our society. To say Greek life causes rape culture is different from Greek life has rape culture."

She continued that being with friends and having a community -- such as a fraternity or a sorority -- can actually help someone be less susceptible to rape. And, she said, since the allegations at UNL sparked protests, survivors in her sorority and others have been supporting each other and sharing stories. 

Others believe Greek life is part of the problem. 

Recent UNL graduate John Grinvalds, who is still taking classes on campus, points to the power structures of Greek life to argue that it sets a stage for toxic and dangerous behavior. Knowing several leaders of fraternities, he said, he's seen how the environment can encourage rape culture.  He's even written a thorough essay on the opinion in an editorial for the Omaha World Herald.

"The problems that stem sexual assault far exceed the parameters of Greek life. But, Greek life certainly exacerbates it," Grinvalds said. "300% of fraternity members are more likely to commit assault," he noted. "There are certain aspects of Greek life that construct the ecosystem for that."

He gave the example that at parties, the fraternity brothers he's spoken with say they keep a ratio to make sure there are significantly more women than men. 

To affect a change, Grinvalds urges people who are not in Greek life to help set boundaries and have power on the IFC board.

"Abolishing it should be on the table at UNL's campus, but at the very least, things need to be motivated from the outside," he said, hoping officials delegate how they act more. 

KnowMore will continue to post updates on their Instagram, where you can find an event they're hoping to plan with the University to educate students. Minderman wants people to be aware of the signs a victim shows, for example.

"People don't understand what it's like to be a woman in college or adult living on your own," Minderman said. 

Both at least agree that something needs to change.

"Certainly, UNLPD and administrators need to do better at addressing these problems," Grinvalds said. 

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