Chapman fraternities reflect on their actions following the Brett Kavanaugh senate hearings

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court, Saturday, Oct. 6. Photo via Flickr.

As allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh came to light in the Senate confirmation hearings, fraternity men are having to think more consciously about how their actions today could affect them in the future.

Christine Blasey Ford accused Judge Kavanaugh of holding her down and groping her in high school but other allegations of indecent exposure and excessive drinking in college have been brought up as well. During the hearings, Kavanaugh admitted to drinking beer both in college and high school. Amidst these hearings, Chapman’s fraternity men are newly aware that their actions now may be brought up years later.

“Every action we make [now] is going to have long-term effects because it can be called back instantly,” said Jake Holden, a member of Phi Gamma Delta.

Holden, a junior strategic and corporate communications major, believes social media has made it much easier for misbehavior to be documented – and eternal.

“The same thing goes for things we don’t do,” he said. “If something is happening, if there is [any] injustice, people are going to know who is on what side of history based on how we present ourselves.”

Matt Palomino, sophomore strategic and corporate communications major, was hoping Kavanaugh would not get confirmed.

”It is an overwhelming amount of people that would have to be lying so I’ve got to think [the sexual assault allegations] are true,” said Palomino, a member of Phi Gamma Delta.

Alex Drier, a member of Phi Kappa Tau, also disagreed with Kavanaugh being confirmed.

“I really don’t want a man who is accused of sexual assault to be on my Supreme Court,” said the sophomore strategic and corporate communications major. “That is not a good representation of the United States and what we’re trying to become.”

Some fraternity men acknowledge that they may one day find a conflict between their own personal integrity and loyalty to their fraternity members.

Sterling Freeman, a senior business administration major and a member of Beta Theta Pi, said that he wouldn’t stand by a fraternity member engaging in any sexual misconduct.

“If somebody was ever hurt or [put] in a position that’s unfair to them, loyalty kind of goes out the window,” Freeman said.

Shoes lined up from the Walk for Violence at Chapman. Photo courtesy of Lauren Thomas.

Chris Costa, a member of Phi Kappa Tau, agreed.

“If I saw this, the brother would not be a brother for long,” the senior psychology major said.

Fraternity men also say the topic is coming up more in their meetings.

“We’ve definitely talked about [sexual assault] more in meetings [now], just everyone watching over everyone and holding each other accountable,” Freeman said.

Drier agreed.

“We probably talk about it every week,” he said. “Even if we’re not having a party we’ll still touch up on it because it is one of our main topics.” 

But even with awareness of these situations being raised among fraternity members, it is still common for victims of sexual assault to be reluctant to come forward with their stories. This is due, in part, to a fear of victim blaming and the absence of support.

While the trauma of sexual assault and how to handle it is an ongoing discussion, fraternity men are keeping their eyes open and trained on each other.

“If you’re not contributing to the solution then you are part of the problem,” Costa said.

Lauren Thomas

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