"FRATERNITIES are a mechanism for the consolidation and shrouded transfer of white male power," Lindy West tweeted about her story for the Guardian, a response to an Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant. The message: Shut down fraternities, and we stop enabling damaging behavior. If the actions of University of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter are one great argument for shutting 'em down, then the new documentary from Kirby Dick, The Hunting Ground, is another.
In The Hunting Ground, Dick examines sexual assault cases on college campuses, and identifies a troubling pattern: Universities nationwide seem to be covering up sexual violence—for the dull, damning reason that higher crime reporting can hurt a school's reputation. Dick also finds that among the on-campus programs that protect perpetrators, fraternities and college athletic organizations are some of the worst.
This is all fucking awful to watch (bringing both whiskey and Kleenex to the theater seems wise), but there's hope: Dick follows Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, who, after having their cases mishandled by the University of North Carolina, filed a complaint against the school under Title IX, which outlaws gender discrimination at schools receiving public funding. UNC is now one of 94 schools under investigation by the US Department of Education.
This is progress. But more must be done. Why not start with fraternities?