On yesterday's episode of The Diane Rehm Show, the venerable radio host gathered a diverse group of expert voices to discuss the role of fraternities and sororities on campus. Conversation quickly turned to the role of Greeks in promoting rape culture. And then the Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, President Emeritus and current Professor of Public Service at George Washington University introduced his revolutionary solution to the campus rape epidemic: just tell women to drink less. Where have I heard this before?
Other guests on the program included The Atlantic's Caitlin Flanagan, who has been researching and writing extensively on frat culture, Andrew Lohse, Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy author and noted Greek life critic, North-American Interfraternity Conference honcho Peter Smithhisler, and Jeffrey Selingo of the Chronicle of Higher Education.
You can listen to the entire conversation here, but the jaw-droppingly stupid bit starts right around the 10 minute mark, when Trachtenberg starts running his mouth about how Greeks promote good grades and provide leadership training to members (training on how to effectively and accidentally set their houses on fire, as two fraternities have done in the past week? Maybe!) and definitely do not contribute to a culture of sexual assault.
Dr. Trachtenberg: My experience is that students that are in fraternities have higher grades on average than unaffiliated students. Uh, they get involved in philanthropic activities of one sort or another providing great numbers of hours of service and fundraising on behalf of good causes. They have the opportunity to get leadership training provided by the fraternities. They get other kinds of training as well. Combatting sexual misconduct, values-based—
Rehm: And you don't see them participating in sexual misconduct?
Dr. Trachtenberg: No no! I think it turns out that there are good and bad in fraternities and out of fraternities. What we're focusing here on is a general situation. I think what we're doing is creating a false correlation. For example, we point out that the women don't drink, don't have sorority parties which have alcohol. They don't have to. They go to the parties at the fraternities. So it's not as if the women aren't drinking. They are, in fact.
Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.
Anyone else find it weird that he differentiates between "daughters" and "children"?
Anyway, there you have it — a failproof solution to preventing campus rape that has never been suggested ever before in history and is thus virtually guaranteed to prevent rape. Real fresh thinking there, Trachtenberg.
If this is the attitude freely and blithely expressed by a former University President, it's no wonder that more than 75 schools are currently under investigation by the Department of Education for botching sexual assault investigations.
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