The Daily Northwestern

Letter to the Editor: Misinformed generalization of fraternity men has potential to expand campus rift

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I admit that I did not attend the Take Back the Night march this year — but not for the reasons Adam Davies claims in his op-ed “Fraternity men neglect responsibility with absence at Take Back the Night march.” I am not “unwilling to take the blame and ownership for the toxic culture fraternity men perpetuate.” In fact, I fully support the message of the march, and I would have been happy to support not only Davies’ speech, but also the experiences and opinions of Northwestern students that need to be heard in order to harbor a safe and supportive campus.

I did not attend the march because I was told not to. It should be noted that several student groups, comprised of both fraternity and Greek-unaffiliated men, specifically recommended that fraternity men do not attend this march — and if they did, to remain inconspicuously attentive. I did not attend the march because fraternities have been criticized in the past for attempting to publicly support the cause. Just as survivors and allies deemed our banners from last year to be insensitive, many fraternity men, including myself, were cognizant that their presence at the Take Back the Night march might create an equally negative reaction and further cause harm to those who found this march to be a safe space. We were told that there were much better ways to support survivors than to attend this march.

Obviously, I cannot speak to why every other fraternity man did not attend the march. However, I was recently informed that the organizers of this march requested any fraternity man in attendance, given recent circumstances, not wear or display letters in order to be sensitive to any survivors or allies in attendance who may feel threatened or otherwise uncomfortable. It seems entirely possible that the fraternity men who did attend, so as to follow the wishes of this march’s organizers, did not make themselves known, thereby decreasing their active presence.

Pieces like Davies’ do not seem to provide any progress toward the goal of this march. I only see this op-ed as a means to further polarize the campus into two sects: those for and those against Northwestern’s Greek life. Generalizing the entirety of Northwestern’s male Greek contingent with a misinformed argument can not only encourage anti-fraternity students and faculty to further dislike fraternities, but can also influence those in fraternities to segregate themselves from the rest of the campus community in order to avoid such accusations. Davies’ op-ed has the potential to expand the rift that is intra-campus relations and even discourage dialogue.

I am undeniably aware of how lucky I am to be a Northwestern fraternity man who has never experienced the hardships and tragedies that the Take Back the Night march sets out to prevent and support the victims of. However, sending conflicting messages about what members of Greek life should do to support causes like Take Back the Night, as Davies’ op-ed does, is not productive. We as a campus need to stop these partisan accusations and engage in meaningful conversations about how members of fraternity life can support causes that prevent issues it is often accused of creating.

Jacob Don, Weinberg sophomore