Fraternity spray paint protests justified in their accusations

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November 6, 2017

11:37 PM

The spray painting of “rapist” and “rape” on the fraternity houses was a much-needed action against terrible and powerful institutions. There are legitimate concerns both about erasing the vandalism and letting it stay: Erasing it would constitute censorship and possibly the silencing of survivors, while leaving the text may make the already traumatizing environment of fraternity row worse for survivors.

I intend to focus on why actions that directly combat fraternities are preferable to actions that try to initiate discussion with them or appeal to the administration.

Within universities, fraternities are a microcosm of the patriarchal, classist and white supremacist structures that exist in society. It is important to recognize that instances of sexual violence are never isolated.

Rather, they are the manifestations of a culture with an ingrained imbalance of power that normalizes the violation of autonomy of one by another. And therefore, while sexual assault statistics should be enough to convince you that fraternities should be dismantled, I think it is a good idea to look at what lies at the essence of fraternities to see why they embody the culture of authoritarianism and inequality.

On the surface, the primary feature of fraternities is that they’re usually only inclusive to those whom fraternities recognize as men. There can be no justification for this segregation. Cis men in most societies — and particularly in our western society — have held power over women and forced non-binary and trans people into hiding. Fraternities’ hold on social power allows them to objectify women and reinforce the gender binary.

That is what is immediately apparent to most of the campus community. This is a symptom of a larger structure that enables people born with privilege to retain their privilege.

By creating an exclusive, protected environment for rich, white, cis men to network, fraternities are instrumental to a wider structure that protects and magnifies the power of the ruling class in society. It is no coincidence that fraternity members are overrepresented in Congress, the business community and other powerful institutions. They are a network built to further nepotism and favoritism in employment, politics and civil society. This is the reason why the relation between fraternities and the campus community mirrors the relationship between the ruling class and proletariat in society at large.

Not every member of a fraternity has necessarily committed sexual assault, but they are all complicit in a structure that deprives women and victimized people of power and, by extension, the ability to fully consent.

Fraternities are not, as they say to defend themselves, free associations of like-minded men. They are constitutionally institutionalized structures that perpetuate an imbalance of power and allow a certain section of society to believe they can control the bodies of another. This is why labeling all members of fraternities as rapists is justified.

Not every member of a fraternity has necessarily committed sexual assault, but they are all complicit in a structure that deprives women and victimized people of power and, by extension, the ability to fully consent. It is therefore futile to try and reform fraternities; everything that is wrong with them is part of their essence.

It is important to realize that a call for the abolition of fraternities does not mean that we should prohibit any group of people from congregating; it means that this group of people is not protected by the college administration, and that the College stops endorsing and legitimizing the injustice.

Direct actions such as spray painting fraternity houses return power to the campus community and victims.

It is unjust to leave those hurt by fraternities at the mercy of an administration that is a part of the same power structure that fraternities are part of. Direct actions such as spray painting fraternity houses return power to the campus community and victims.

It is all of our responsibilities to stand in solidarity with victims, trans people, poor people, women, people of color and others hurt by fraternities and destroy the structures that harm them.

Email Aditya Mohan at [email protected]

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  • Aditya Mohan

(43) Readers Comments

  1. Jack
    November 7, 2017 at 2:10 PM

    this is the dumbest article that i’ve ever read - justifies vandalism and a labeling of an entire group of people - stereotyping goes both ways

  2. Annika
    November 7, 2017 at 3:00 PM

    Yes, Aditya! Keep doing what you do :)

  3. Frustrated W&M Student
    November 7, 2017 at 3:11 PM

    Removing the vandalism is not “constituting censorship” it is removing vandalism to university buildings that should not have even been put there in the first place because it is ILLEGAL to vandalize property. Maybe if people protested in a way that didn’t violate the law people would actually listen. It’s also pretty unreasonable to stereotype an entire community on campus when I doubt you have made any effort to converse with that community.

    • Boxer52
      November 16, 2017 at 2:12 AM

      This is yet another sad result of integration... 1) Give them a neighborhood; it will be crime-ridden and covered in graffiti and body chalk outlines in a month. 2) Give them a store; they'll paint the outside and rob the inside. 3) Give them a school; it's the same damn thing. Articles like this are proof; we apparently STILL need to babysit African-Americans and apparently no matter what we try to do, we can't civilize them. Try to give them an education and they're trying to figure out a way to enable graffiti and racism in the schools. Ain't a damn thing changed.

  4. Concerned William and Mary Student
    November 7, 2017 at 3:39 PM

    Aditya, while I value your opinion, I do believe that the points that you are making in your article are very extreme. For example - "They are constitutionally institutionalized structures that perpetuate an imbalance of power and allow a certain section of society to believe they can control the bodies of another. This is why labeling all members of fraternities as rapists is justified." You seem to have a very negative tone regarding fraternities, like some others on this campus. This negative tone could be justified if you or someone that you care for on this campus had a negative experience, but I do find that a lot of individuals on this campus flat out hate fraternities without any particular reason, they simply claim that everyone in a fraternity is a privileged rapist. I believe that this is also stereotyping, you are labelling individuals privileged, without actually confirming it with their diverse backgrounds, and calling them rapists. I am against all sorts of sexual misconducts in any of its forms, and I do acknowledge that this school handles sexual misconduct very poorly, can confirm from unfortunate and traumatic experiences of some friends. I still believe that these extreme opinions that some people carry without truly getting to know people in the fraternities are unjustified. In my mind they are similar to stereotyping other groups, but to a lesser sense, as the stereotypes they experience are much worse.

  5. Concerned Alumnus...
    November 7, 2017 at 4:29 PM

    This opinion article is so poorly written for the reasons laid out in the other comment, and many others. All claims and attacks without adding one piece of evidence to support your argument. How exactly are fraternities "constitutionally institutionalized"? Why label all fraternity men as white and completely ignore/disregard the many minority fraternity men at the College? This is the very attitude that perpetuates such a stark divide between the greeks and non-greeks at WM. This stark divide will only hinder us from truly supporting survivors of sexual assault, and working together to rid the College of such actions. I know it's an opinion article, but why would the Flat Hat let such childish and ignorant ideas be published under their domain? WM alumni will stop supporting the College if the student body cannot engage in an intelligent discourse around such a serious issue. Putting "opinion" at the top of an article doesn't mean you can disregard all facts and write from a purely emotional point of view. Garbage.

  6. Disgusted Alumni
    November 7, 2017 at 4:58 PM

    I’m ashamed to say we attended the same school. You should never be allowed to write again.

    • Gene Nichol
      November 16, 2017 at 9:58 PM

      I came here to say exactly this. The article is an embarrassment and reads like a bunch of pilitical correct leftist jargon strung together into meaningless sentences. I’m saddened that the “logic” in this article is from a W&M student.

  7. Disgusted Classmate
    November 7, 2017 at 5:32 PM

    This article is rediculous - I am ashamed to call you a fellow classmate

  8. Poor Writing Police
    November 7, 2017 at 5:51 PM

    This person took sociology 201, spewed some buzzwords onto a page and thought it would pass as good writing. The points made here are not only completely illogical but they also highlight how Anitya is willing to champion her own bizarre anti-Greek agenda under the facade of caring about the best interest of sexual assault survivors. Disgraceful.

  9. Confounded alum
    November 7, 2017 at 8:33 PM

    You are trying to weave together some pretty complex ideas, which I will applaud when done well. This was not done well. This was abhorrent. All credibility with this piece of writing, which should be an airtight argument, goes out the window when you try to justify labeling “all members of fraternities as rapists.” Social Justice is not a cause that will be done with a cans of spray paint fueled by the cries of intellectual dimwits. It was not a brave act. And in no world is generalizing an entire group of people as “rapists,” logical, let alone acceptable. No matter how many kegs and tank tops they have, some of them are normal dudes looking for friends. Pop the bubble you’re in, Aditya. The world doesn’t have to be such a miserable place. And its definitely not PIKA’s fault you think it is.

  10. Reality
    November 7, 2017 at 9:28 PM

    So how many semesters in a row did you rush and not get a bid?

  11. Current wm student
    November 7, 2017 at 10:08 PM

    Good stuff Aditya! Keep it up!

  12. Faisal
    November 7, 2017 at 10:44 PM

    Ignore all the people commenting on this who are too privileged to see the oppressive nature of Greek life and why it should be torn down to the ground. Keep fighting the good fight, my good friend. Solidarity forever.

    • Boxer52
      November 16, 2017 at 2:19 AM

      You'd be better off ignoring privileged young girls trying to justify immoral things like branding all frat members as "rapists" (NOT an accusation to be thrown around lightly, eh?) or trying to enable criminals like vandals. This is not what universities are for. Sounds like you can take the girl out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of the girl. Maybe university life isn't for her. Calling all fraternity members "rapists" is hardly a good way to integrate yourself to a school. If I was a frat member and this was the attitude of black "students", I'd do my best to avoid them. I'm sure she and the rest of the black "students" have little to worry about - if only they focus on their studies instead of race-baiting. This girl's attitude is going to make her miserable. She'll have no choice but to do what others like her have to do after throwing their youth away; BITTERLY CASH HER WELFARE CHECK and blame it on whitey. So sad. So very sad...

  13. Minority, non-greek alumni
    November 7, 2017 at 10:54 PM

    I'd love to hear this clueless authors enlightening thoughts around sororities? Pretty embarrassing that this person attended and is represented by the same institution I attended. Pathetic article. Flat Hat should remove this immediately.

    • Gene Nichol
      November 16, 2017 at 10:11 PM

      No way. Leave it up so alums can see the idiocy that currently dominates the institution.

  14. 1 in 4
    November 7, 2017 at 10:59 PM

    This article doesn't have much, if any proof. The proof this author could use is how many fraternity members are active members of 1 in 4. When you have that, come back to us. Bet its a majority of the males.

  15. Disappointed Student
    November 7, 2017 at 11:58 PM

    I am disgusted by the blatant stereotyping in this article. The author attempts to create a social structure through which they can attack a whole population without having to know any of the people it contains. It's absurd that they can call any fraternity man a rapist without any evidence, rational reasoning, or knowledge of one whatsoever. It's easy to attack a faceless group of ones' own creation instead of interacting and creating discussion with individuals. Also, to address the privilege aspect, stop shaming people for who they are. I see no reason for anyone having to apologize for their parents' efforts to ensure a better future, their sexuality, or the color of their skin. People should empathize and interact with one another instead of apologizing for their identities.

  16. Law Student Alum
    November 8, 2017 at 1:37 AM

    While the intent of this article was admirable, it is so poorly written with so much misguided animosity it's hard to take any word seriously. While the United States was founded on white supremacy and the exploitation of marginalized groups (and continues to operate under this structure), I think that there is a line that must be drawn that differentiates justified illegal protest from unjustified illegal protest. This article calls for the targeted illegal harassment of a group of people. Not only is this a dangerous narrative but it also could reasonably lead to the normalization of skepticism surrounding survivors' stories of sexual assault. How are we supposed to hold individual sexual predators accountable when we accuse with such a broad (spray painted) brush. Under the law, the Flathat (and opinion editors) could be sued for not only intentional but also admitted defamation. We are all on the same side, let's come together as an entire campus community (Greeks too) and have serious discussions. Many people verbalize this sentiment but never follow through which is shameful. I am a white cisgender bisexual (I prefer the Kinsey scale) greek man so I hope you can take my thoughts seriously without disregarding them because of my societal and self-defined identity.

  17. Overgeneralizing is Bad.
    November 8, 2017 at 2:07 AM

    I have some disagreements with other parts of this, but I would just like to point out that a lot of the people you are calling "rapists" because they are in a frat may have been victims of sexual assault themselves. You literally say "labeling all members of fraternities as rapists is justified." How many men in those fraternities may have been raped or sexually assaulted themselves? At some point I feel like you need to step back and realized that you just called a number of rape victims/survivors rapists themselves. At some point you need to realize you really didn't think this through and are hurting a lot of people for no real gain.

  18. Alumnus
    November 8, 2017 at 12:07 PM

    This is a perfect example of pseudo-intellectual discourse. Shouting some buzzwords about "white, cis men" who are apparently always oppressive is not a constructive form of dialogue. No wonder Trump won.

  19. Well then
    November 8, 2017 at 1:19 PM

    So by this logic if I spray painted "murderers are bad" on your house it should be allowed?

  20. Ranting Alumnis
    November 8, 2017 at 5:11 PM

    You should probably take the liberty of spray painting “Thank you” on the fraternity houses, as Greek alumni donations to WM are what provide the bulk of private funding to the college. We’re the reason you can piss away 4 years on whatever “insert meaningless doublespeak” studies you choose. The overly-educated generation of the moment (of which I’m a part) explains every damn thing in terms of systems. It’s not a coincidence that we are also obsessed with deferring adulthood and abdicating personal responsibility at every turn.

  21. Tyrone Bigg
    November 8, 2017 at 6:19 PM

    This article could have been written by a very well-programmed social justice themed machine learning algorithm.

  22. Disappointed, but not Surprised
    November 8, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    You are completely entitled to your opinion, no matter how much I or anyone else may disagree, and commend you for voicing it in a public forum to which the opportunity exists for others to respond. However, whatever contempt you have for fraternities, or the individuals who are members of these institutions, is unbridled and seemingly unjustified. You hardly back up your support of unwarranted vigilante aggression by anything other than your hatred towards cis, white men and the organization of such individuals. What is your opinion on ethnic fraternities, that comprise their membership based on racial backgrounds? National, IFC fraternities have no racially discriminatory practices in place, but there are entire fraternities founded around racial compliance that participate in the same contemptible acts that you completely fail to acknowledge. Additionally, you malign and provide great disservice to those who are actually victims of sexual assault by saying, and I quote: "This is why labeling all members of fraternities as rapists is justified. Not every member of a fraternity has necessarily committed sexual assault" Aka: "You haven't committed this heinous crime, but I will label you the same because of how I feel about the ethnic and socioeconomic background of your membership" Truly, and utterly, disappointing.

  23. Aditya Monobrow
    November 9, 2017 at 12:43 AM

    Aditya, In my time, I’ve found that people with unibrows are more prone to unwanted sexual advances and harassment than fraternity members are. Would you like me wage a vigilante vandalism campaign for “justice” on the homes of people with unibrows to help curb sexual assault?

  24. Harvey
    November 9, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    Just because none of them wanted a loser like you. Moron.

  25. I take it you failed creative writing 101
    November 10, 2017 at 7:08 PM

    Who knew word vomiting Tumblr posts was enough to get published in the Flat Hat?

  26. Tim
    November 11, 2017 at 3:19 PM

    I can't even read the entire article. It almost seems like an Onion article. It's not a statement against the white patriarchy, it's VANDSLISM. My God, what have college students become these days...

  27. Alumnus
    November 11, 2017 at 5:23 PM

    This is a pathetic article.

  28. Disgusted Alumnus
    November 13, 2017 at 3:25 PM

    I cannot believe that this purile garbage was included in a once venerable newspaper. Is there any integrity at all left at the Flat Hat? .I know for a fact that you have printed incorrect information in the past (e.g.. the Viet Nam party debacle) and never printed a retraction, even after you were called out on it. Twice. As for this article: Social justice-warrior college students are living in a ridiculous self-imposed bubble that prevents them from seeing the world as it really is. Sexual assault is horrible and is a societal problem that must be solved. But not through vandalism and blanket guilty verdicts without a shred of evidence. Painting with such a broad brush is infantile and simultaneously dangerous, as others actually latch on to this nonsense and amplify it. This "I'm right and everyone else is wrong" thinking is a cancer on our society. It's how we ended up with Cheeto Mussolini in the White House. The world is shades of grey, as much as the writer of the article wants to pretend it isn't. My advice to the author of the article: Grow the hell up. p.s. Watch the alumni money vaporize if the fraternities get the axe. p.s.s. And before there is a response from some aggrieved do-gooder claiming I am some sort of monstrous love child of Sean Hannity and Kellyanne Conway, I am a hard left dem who voted for Bernie.

  29. Does He Even Go Here
    November 13, 2017 at 4:57 PM

    This is hilarious omg I'm dying get me popcorn and a soda I'm as treehugging dirtworshipping leftist liberal as they come but this is like an alt-right caricature of SJWs go back to Tumblr kid unless this is satire, then good job!

  30. rover77
    November 15, 2017 at 8:47 PM

    wow...thuggery is ok ...but only for your cause..your kind of people

  31. Rev
    November 16, 2017 at 2:06 AM

    This manifesto was either written by a violent child or a child that will one day grow up to be violent. VERY VERY VERY sad to see this generation scramble to be "marginalized" to they can find any way to create their own sets up privileges. This "white supremacist", "patriarchal" society is what saved Africans from themselves. They were selling their people like cattle and hundreds of years later, people in Africa have hardly advanced themselves. For some strange reason, African-Americans don't go to Africa looking for entitlements, coddling and handouts. Geez, I wonder why. This black privilege is adorable, but so pathetic to see this generation of African-Americans throw their lives away getting lost in the desperate act of trying to make gains from identity politics and new forms of racism. Time to grow up, kid. Doesn't matter if you're white or black - can you contribute outside of being a racist, race-baiter, race-victim? White America can't wipe your bottom for ever, girl.

  32. Melissa
    November 16, 2017 at 7:41 AM

    Guilt by association. Let’s apply the same logic to Muslim students. Now do you see the problem?

  33. Iain Macallester
    November 16, 2017 at 9:07 AM

    You should feel free to vandalize. Others should feel free to beat you when they catch you vandalizing. Fair is fair.

  34. Jack Klompus
    November 16, 2017 at 11:07 AM

    The author's name is, not coincidentally, close to the word "idiot." The whole world continues to mock, laugh at, and mercilessly ridicule the tantrum throwing, pseudo-intellectual social justice cult. Keep it up, mighty woke warriors. Your entertainment value is infinite.

  35. MarkJ
    November 16, 2017 at 11:42 AM

    Memo for Aditya Mohan: Justifying vandalism, stereotyping, and "othering," eh? Aditya, in all cordiality you really don't want to know what awaits at the end of the road you're traveling.

  36. Paul Kersey
    November 16, 2017 at 6:07 PM

    Punching vandals in the face to protect your property is justified.

  37. Bill Braskey
    November 17, 2017 at 7:36 AM

    Aditya Mohan is an embarrassment to the human race.

  38. Manuel Laborio
    November 17, 2017 at 7:44 AM

    If Ms. Mohan were my daughter regularly spouting this kind of nonsense her ass would have been honor killed a long time ago.

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