The University of Missouri at Columbia is considering a policy that would ban women from going into frats on weekends, in a very paternalistic attempt to protect them from harm.
The plan, first released last week, would bar women from being inside male fraternities between 10 P.M. and 3 A.M. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, as well as every night during the first week of term. The proposal was crafted at school’s request by a group of male alumni who serve on the alumni boards of Missouri’s male fraternities.
Even thought the policy would substantially affect women, Mizzou’s sororities were not consulted about the proposal beforehand, and as a result many of them are sharply attacking something that is intended to protect them. As a result, the Panhellenic Association (PHA), which represents most of Mizzou’s sororities, has released a letter explicitly condemning the plan as sexist in nature.
“The goal is to address the safety of women students in fraternity houses, but the proposal was written by men who are not entrenched in daily campus, fraternity and sorority life,” the letter says. “By restricting women from certain locations under the guise of ‘safety,’ this policy lends itself to the notion that women cannot make choices for themselves.”
The PHA letter levies several more criticisms of the proposal, claiming it makes women subordinate to men (no equivalent policy is proposed for men in sororities) and could encourage men to mistreat women found violating the rule by staying in a house too long. One female student even suggested that forcing women to leave frats at a set time could expose them to additional danger.
“A lot of girls go to frats late and stay over because their boyfriends are there … and it would be safer to stay there than to walk home alone and/or intoxicated,” student Marcela Messina told The Maneater, Mizzou’s student newspaper. “It just seems silly because this regulation could possibly make the matter worse.”
Besides the ban on women, the proposal also has a battery of slightly less severe suggestions that have already been implemented at other schools. For example, it would ban hard alcohol on campus (even in the possession of those over 21), and bar Greek houses from holding any social events outside of Columbia. Originally, the proposal would have imposed mandatory drug testing on all fraternity and sorority members, but that suggestion was withdrawn after being almost universally condemned.
Overall, the proposal hearken back to the old days of parietals, when universities (which were often still all-male) tightly regulated interactions between members of the opposite sex. Unsurprisingly, there has been a deeply hostile reaction from most of the student body:
How can MU plan to ban women from being on fraternity property at night and at the same time encourage students to live in co-ed res halls?
— Save Mizzou Greek (@SaveMUGreekLife) June 3, 2015
— Austin Grega (@austingrega) June 4, 2015
Despite this hostility, though, that doesn’t mean the proposal won’t be implemented. Reported sexual assaults at Mizzou are at an all-time high, and president R. Bowen Loftin has acted aggressively, hiring several new employees whose sole job is to investigate claims of sexual assault. The proposed new rules are expected to be formally considered on June 20 at a “summit” Mizzou is hosting regarding sexual assault.
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