Drinking Age

NYT Says There Might Be Less Rape If Sororities Served Booze

Prohibition always fails


Sorority Row
Sorority Row / Youtube

The New York Times picks up on a notion I've been peddling for some time now—namely, that the campus rape and binge-drinking crises are exacerbated by the need for young women to attend fraternity parties when they want to drink. Most sororities are "dry," and while it's not clear to me how rigorously the no-booze rule is followed, it's certainly true that frat brothers' comparatively easier access to alcohol has made the fraternity the central hub for social life and drinking on many campuses.

But wouldn't women be safer drinking "on their own turf," as The Times puts it?

"I've always thought, 'Why aren't there sorority house parties? There are only frat parties,' " she said to a friend, Dania Roach, a fellow senior. Ms. Roach replied: "I would definitely feel safer at a sorority party. It's the home-court advantage."

For decades, national sorority organizations have banned alcohol in their houses. But as debate intensifies over how to address sexual assaults on college campuses, many of them occurring at fraternity house parties, some female students are questioning that rule, asserting that allowing alcohol would give women — not just sorority members — the option to attend Greek house parties that women control, from setting off-limits areas to deciding the content of the punch. The move would by no means eliminate sexual violence on campus, they said, but perhaps provide a benefit.

I'm heartened to see national news outlets paying increased attention to alcohol realism on campus. Pundits often treat college sexual assault like it's an all-consuming epidemic that can only be fought via progressive social change or government-enacted neo-Victorianism. But we know that alcohol abuse is a significant contributing factor in sexual assault—and we know that one of the side effects of restricting alcohol to certain groups is that those groups end up getting drunk in riskier environments, estranged from friends and authority figures, in the company of strangers who might not have their best interest at heart.

Jezebel's Anna Merlan touts the advantages of such a course-correction while correctly noting it's cross-ideological appeal—even those libertarian folks support it:

The advantages are pretty clear: the sorority would have a far greater ability to control the alcohol, including keeping an eye on what's in the mixed drinks. And they'd be able to control who enters the house, as at Sigma Delta, who also appoint sober monitors to keep an eye on the scene. And many, many other people have made that argument from every side of the political spectrum: Robby Soave at the Libertarian magazine Reason, sociology professor Michael Kimmel writing for TIME , Charlottesville's alt-weekly C-Ville. Also — just spitballing here — a sorority party might be slightly less gross: there would probably be snacks, and the toilets and floors might not look like they were crusted with ancient stalactites of grime. Plus, the greatest benefit of all to having a party in your own house: at any point, you can lock your door, put on your pajamas, fire up Netflix and cease all social interaction, the best part of any night out.

All that said, there are issues. Sororities are often ill-designed for large events, and their national organizations have a long history of opposing alcohol in the houses. Changing course would increase insurance liability for sororities, making it more expensive to rush. And there's always the risk that moving the party into the sorority will have a corrupting effect on the girls, rather than a civilizing effect on the scene.

Related: "To Reduce Campus Rape, Legalize Pot and Alcohol."

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  1. I’ve always thought, ‘Why aren’t there sorority house parties?

    Yeah, me too. Preferably with pillow fights.

    1. the greatest benefit of all to having a party in your own house: at any point, you can lock your door, put on your pajamas,

      Yes. Go on . . . .

    2. ‘Why aren’t there sorority house parties?’

      No mystery here. Young women don’t have to pay for their own drinks, and certainly don’t have to pay for the drinks of male guests. So they don’t.

  2. I wonder if Merlan is attempting to be gracious with the favorable cite or if she actually does not remember acting like a total ass to Robby just a few weeks ago.

    1. She did say back at the time that she owed him an apology. Not clear if she actually apologized…

      1. The great thing about being a SJW member of a designated victim class is that you never have to say you’re sorry for going after a priveleged white male heteronormative rape apologist.

      1. “When Jezebel was founded, it proposed itself as an explicit alternative to traditional women’s magazines. As any first-year women’s studies major will tell you, these glossies make money by exploiting women’s insecurities…

        …The editorial content creates ego-wounds (“Do you smell bad? Why isn’t he into you?”) that advertisers handily salve by offering up makeup and scented tampons. But Jezebel must also sell ad space… Page views are generated by commenters who are moved to speak out, then revisit the comment thread endlessly to see how people have responded to their ideas. Ergo, more provocative posts tend to generate far more page views, and the easiest way for Jezebel writers to be provocative is to stoke readers’ insecurities?just in a different way.

        Instead of mimicking the old directly anxiety-making model…Jezebel and the Slate and Salon “lady-blogs” post a critique of a rail-thin model’s physique, explaining how her attractiveness hurts women. The end result is the same as the old formula?women’s insecurities sell ads. The only difference is the level of doublespeak and manipulation that it takes to produce that result.”

        Actually, last i checked, their formula is more along the lines of, “Shitty Person Does Horrible Thing: and why you should be fucking Outraged“, using as many curses as possible, which is apparently how women do, ‘edgy’

        1. As any first-year women’s studies major will tell you, these glossies make money by exploiting women’s insecurities

          I wouldn’t get financial advice from a first-year economics major, nor psychological advice from a first-year psych major…

  3. Jezebel is so full of it. Women’s bathrooms are far more disgusting than men’s rooms.

  4. The numbers show that sexual assault on campuses is actually less than the general population. A terrible sexual assault story has just been shown to be a complete fraud. Other scandalous sexual assault stories over the years were proven to be complete frauds. Yet here we go with everyone still implying that there is some kind of sexual assault epidemic on campuses, when that’s completely untrue. I guess intellectual integrity means nothing to most people.

    1. “the campus rape and binge-drinking crises “

      What Epi, are you saying YOU LIKE RAPE? That there should be MORE rape? and that anything done about it is by default ‘wrong’??!?

      I seem to recall having this same discussion yesterday.

    2. Right. Like your frat didn’t have a Rape Dungeon.

      1. Don’t be a jerk. It was a Rape Lounge.

        1. Dang…our rugby club only had A Sexual Impropriety Foyer. 🙁

        2. And all the guests complained about how the Naugahyde chaffed.

    3. ” I guess intellectual integrity means nothing to most people.”

      That sounds like Mind-Rapist talk to me

  5. “And there’s always the risk that moving the party into the sorority will have a corrupting effect on the girls, rather than a civilizing effect on the scene.”

    “Corrupting”? Hey, get out of there with that SoCon crap, go to Free Republic, you theocrat!

    1. I worked in a sorority kitchen for a couple of semesters. There is absolutely nothing about sororities that is civilizing.

  6. But wouldn’t women be safer drinking “on their own turf,”

    This assumes they are not safe drinking at frats. Which I believe is not really the case.

  7. Pictured: a still from one of Robby “the Suave” Soave’s numerous “tequila and rohypnol” parties.

    1. If Jamie Chung was there, I’d take the risk.

  8. I’m trying to wrap my head around just how much these parties would suck, and not in the good way.

  9. Merlan is just winging it here, trading in stereotypes and total speculation.

    For the record, at the sorority parties I went to, the girls got more drunk than they would have otherwise.

    1. Not surprised. Because they are in a “safe” environment, they’re less careful.

      File this one under “unintended consequences.”

      Besides, wasn’t there a story recently about some college girls who were totally willing to sell out their friend for a gang rape, if it meant they got to go to the right parties? Just how safe are these sororities, anyway?

  10. What campus rape crisis?

  11. the toilets and floors might not look like they were crusted with ancient stalactites of grime

    I’ve cleaned women’s bathrooms, and this is utter bull shit.

    1. Every custodial engineer I’ve ever spoken with has said the same thing.

      1. As a onetime glorified C.E. in a grocery store, I wholeheartedly agree.

      2. My wife has told me horror stories about the women’s bathroom at her work. Stuff I couldn’t even imagine in a men’s bathroom.

        1. I have never once seen blood in a men’s restroom.

          1. You need to get out more.

            1. Look, I’m not saying I haven’t bled in plenty bathrooms myself, I just clean it up. I once sneezed while having a nosebleed. I’m not going to make someone else clean up my gore Pollock.

          2. One day she came home all disgusted, and so I made the mistake of asking her why. Apparently one of her coworkers has swamp-pussy so bad that the entire bathroom reeks for hours after she uses it. Like she smears it on the walls or something. Ugh. I can only imagine.

            1. Since barfman hasn’t been around lately, I’ll go ahead and stand in here:


    2. As someone who was actually in a frat, I can tell you that we cleaned ours very thoroughly before parties.

      Because we knew chicks were coming. And it gave us another way to torture the pledges.

      Not only that, but we scrubbed the house down after parties. Because pledges. Our frat house was cleaner than any dorm on campus.

  12. The national organizations are protecting some romanticized and idealized version of the sorority that doesn’t actually exist anywhere by continuing to ban alcohol.

    1. Nah, they are just engaging in straight up prostitution. The sororities have something the fraternities want, young female co eds, and if the fraternities are going to get it they have to exchange monetary goods. Namely, insurance prices, alcohol costs, organizational time, and criminal liability.

  13. Changing course would increase insurance liability for sororities, making it more expensive to rush

    Which is totally unfair because people should be shielded from consequences.

    And there’s always the risk that moving the party into the sorority will have a corrupting effect on the girls, rather than a civilizing effect on the scene

    Legit confused on this sentiment, Robby. Sounds sort of neo-Victorian to me.

    1. Why can’t they go slowly instead of rushing? Is the insurance less then?

  14. ” alcohol has made the fraternity the central hub for social life and drinking on many campuses.”

    That, and the fact that there are men there.

    Because women don’t EVER actually want to socialize for the purpose of flirting. Nope. Just free booze.

  15. I had no idea this was even a thing, that sororities were often dry. Jesus fucking Christ. WHY? Fucking. Women.

    1. It’s really just to keep the hungover queefing to a minimum.

      1. I guess I shouldn’t have expected any thing more from you.

        Keep on keeing on, NutraSweet.

    2. Come on, Nicole, we all know chicks are too stupid and irresponsible to be allowed to have parties in their own sorority houses. I mean…they might have sex or get drunk! They have to be protected from that! They’re fragile little flowers; you know, basically children. Like you!

      1. Actually, it might have been a quite bright move on the sororities’ part.

        “Oh, no! Our national organization says we can’t have booze parties. I guess the mess and the cost and the liability will have to fall on the fraternities…”

        1. Exactly.

          Why would they host parties when the boys who hope to get laid are going to do it anyway?

    3. I’m not sure how common it is for sororities to have their own houses. At Penn State sorority “houses” are in dorms. I think that the sororities used to have their own houses but the university bought the land and built dorms there, and the sororities just took up residence. And technically, Penn State is a dry campus, in the sense that alcohol can’t be bought or sold or handed out at university sponsored functions.

      1. And look at the difference those policies have made!

        At Penn State, rape is something done to males (not females) by crony insiders. Progress!

      2. UK is the same way about booze. Unless you are tailgating alumni, of course.

      3. At Purdue the greek system builds their houses on the borders of campus property. So one side of the street is campus and on the other side are frat and sorority houses. I think a few sorority houses were actually on campus, but there was no downside to that because the house had to be dry anyway, no matter where it was located.

      4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how young should you have to be to stay away from Penn State?

  16. Jezebel‘s Anna Merlan touts-

    A little late, but… Stop right there.

  17. re: Campus rape and binge-drinking crises

    repeat from yesterday

    ” the truth is that there’s no epidemic outbreak of college rape. In fact, rape on college campuses is ? like rape everywhere else in America ? plummeting in frequency. And that 1-in-5 college rape number you keep hearing in the press? It’s thoroughly bogus, too. (Even the authors of that study say that “We don’t think one in five is a nationally representative statistic,” because it sampled only two schools.)

    the truth…is exactly the opposite. According to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of rape and sexual assault is lower for college students (at 6.1 per 1,000) than for non-students (7.6 per 1,000). (Note: not 1 in 5). What’s more, between 1997 and 2013, rape against women dropped by about 50%…

    … for campus activists and bureaucrats it’s a source of power: If there’s a “campus rape crisis,” that means that we need new rules, bigger budgets, and expanded power and self-importance for all involved, with the added advantage of letting you call your political opponents (or anyone who threatens funding) “pro rape.” ….

    But seriously – keep up the good fight Robby! Keep repeating there’s a “problem” that needs solving to keep the rape-story-clicks flowing

    1. Maybe it is some sort of atonement for being right (an unpardonable sin) about the UVA hoax?

      1. Maybe he’s following the Weigel playbook and trying to stay on the good side of the larger media world, which tends to view *actual* libertarians with some distaste. No one wants to be a Reason-flunky forever, and not everyone has the titanium-integrity of a Balko.

        *note = the weigel playbook didn’t seem to really work out for weigel either.

        But for reals, I’d think that the clever play in the light-speed media cycle would be to talk about the Post-Fictional-Gang-Rape universe we now live in, where the new-and-controversial view is

        Maybe College Students Should be Treated Like Adults

        1. I thought full adulthood didn’t start until age 26?

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