Fraternities, athletes tied to violence

February 08, 1992|By Drew Bailey

Efforts to combat campus violence should begin with college athletes and fraternity members, speakers at the sixth National Conference on Campus Violence said yesterday in Baltimore.

Experts cited a study by the Campus Violence Prevention Center, based at Towson State University, which found athletes and fraternity and sorority members were disproportionately involved in campus violence. The national study showed that the students in question more often commit crimes and also become victims more frequently than other students.

The study showed that athletes commit about 25 percent of sexual assaults and rapes on campus and that fraternity members are responsible for another one-fourth of the incidents.

"Fraternity violence against women is endemic on some campuses," said Paul Campbell, criminal justice professor and adviser to Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity at Wayne State Collegein Wayne, Neb. "We [fraternities] are being blamed, and the blame is well-deserved."

Mr. Campbell was one of the speakers at the conference, which ends today at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor Hotel. More than 300 people, mostly administrators and campus police chiefs, attended the event sponsored by the Towson State center.

Several speakers called for education and awareness programs on sexual assaults and alcohol.

Use of alcohol is the greatest contributor to campus crime, said Debby Wilson, a psychiatrist who counsels athletes at George Washington University in Washington and George Mason University in Northern Virginia.

She noted that alcohol also plays a role in athletes and in fraternity and sorority members becoming victims of crimes, a study showed.

"We've got to get to work on alcohol education programs and . . . the perception of what is manly," Ms. Wilson said.

She said athletes are affected by tremendous pressures to perform both academically and in sports. "Athletes are also pushed ahead of what they're ready for developmentally, which contributes to a feeling of separation from their peers," she said.

Joseph Weinberg of Madison, Wis., past president of Men Stopping Rape, a national rape awareness group, said many fraternities promote "hyper-masculine" attitudes. Because such attitudes praise sexual conquests, they contribute to the incidence of rape. He also said that athletes translate the aggressive tactics they use on the field when committing attacks against women.

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