Opinion: For real change, bystanders must speak up

Posted on Feb 19 2018 - 7:55am by Lauren Moses

It is no secret that Greek life in the SEC is a big deal. But with deaths and injuries at Greek-sponsored events on the rise, schools are tightening rules and regulations on fraternities and sororities on campus in the hope that the culture will change.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) at Ole Miss published an open letter to all students of the university. This letter announced the IFC’s desire to implement a new preventative measure for fraternities, requiring that members go through alcohol, substance and sexual abuse training each school year. In the past, this training was only required of potential new members during the weeks leading up to fall rush.

But will this new protocol change anything on campus?

Frat parties will go on. Incidents of alcohol poisoning will still happen. Cases of sexual abuse will still occur. The problems of Ole Miss Greek life go much deeper than students not knowing what to do in a situation.

The majority of students at Ole Miss are silent bystanders. You may see a guy filling up his cup over and over again in the course of an hour, thinking he can handle the intake. Or think that someone passed out on the floor surely has a friend that can help him or her out soon enough. Or think that maybe that guy and girl were just flirting, even if she looks pretty wasted and he is aggressively making moves.

These silent bystanders are everywhere, watching potentially detrimental situations happen and saying nothing. They say, “There must be someone else who can help the situation.”

What if the person to stop the situation is you?

Silent bystanders don’t do anyone any good. In fact, their lack of action serves to condone abusive behavior that could be stopped if someone stood up. I’m by no means arguing that every person at a party is your responsibility. But if everyone was on the lookout for harmful behavior, there might be a change in the negative ideas surrounding frat parties and the party scene in general.

Fraternities are not the only places where negligence and abuse take place. I applaud the IFC for requiring fraternities on campus to undergo yearly training on the dangers of alcohol, drug and sexual abuse.

But the IFC letter will not bring about as much change as desired. For real change to occur, the silent bystanders will need to make a decision to speak up for their peers.

Lauren Moses is a freshman accounting and political science major from Dallas.