For what seems like the umpteenth time this year, a college fraternity is in hot water over sexist behavior. This time, it’s members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of California – San Diego who stand accused of inappropriate behavior.
According to NBC San Diego, sophomore Rachel Friedman received an offensive text from one SAE pledge last Thursday requesting that she send a picture of her bare breasts with the word “rush” painted on them. The phenomenon is known as “rush boobs” and is popular among fraternities. Friedman declined the pledge’s request—and then put the entire fraternity on blast via social media.
“I am utterly disgusted with the fact that this fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, is trying to use the degradation of (women) to promote rush,” she wrote on her Facebook page on October 15th. “I am personally offended that I was even asked to do such a thing.”
As a result of Friedman’s decision to speak out, the SAE fraternity is now under investigation by the university and the members involved, including those who pressured their fellow brother to send the text in the first place, have been suspended until further notice.
“The national organization and its leaders do not tolerate behavior of this kind, nor is it part of any activity or expectation by the fraternity,” representatives of the national SAE organization said in a statement. “Our membership experience is based on concepts that promote the development of brothers — and not on the kind of immature behavior that stereotypes the Greek-letter community.”
“The violence starts with objectification,” Friedman told the local Fox5 affiliate. “And rush boobs and things like that, that’s where the objectification begins.”
And this isn’t just a one-time thing at one particular school. This is a nation-wide problem. The website Total Frat Move put together a collection of all the times fraternities have participated in “rush boobs.”
Friedman hopes that her speaking out will show that the root causes of sexual violence are not in what women choose to do with their bodies, but in how men choose to treat women.
This past August, another fraternity at Virginia’s Old Dominion University was under scrutiny for hanging up sexist, raunchy banners from the railings of their off-campus houses. The banners, which read “Freshman Daughter Drop Off,” and “Go Ahead And Drop Mom Off Too,” served as another example of how prevalent rape culture is on campus. Like UCSD, ODU’s Sigma Nu chapter’s actions were investigated and fraternity was suspended. And this incident is far from the last one we’ve seen just this year.
Friedman followed her original message with this statement on Facebook on the 16th:
We hope that the more we speak up about incidents like this, the more we see change in not just campus culture, but our culture as a whole.
(Image via Facebook)