Strapped By Institutional and Cultural Barriers, AUSG Drops Greek Life Abolition, Pursues Reform

Interviews conducted by Meagan Keefe and Benjamin Mermel

The prospect of complete Greek Life abolition has died, replaced by a series of proposed reforms extending and making more accessible resources for victims of sexual assault and racial abuse.

Beginning in June of 2020, in the midst of nationwide outrage over police brutality spurred on by the deaths of Ahmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, students at American University were met with social media campaigns attacking the community’s complicity on issues of sexual assault and racism. With the creation of multiple Instagram accounts, members of the AU community were forced to reckon with jarring, public accusations that left the whole campus reflecting on the integrity of its institutions and culture. The Instagram accounts offered anonymous and primary source testimonies of assault, discrimination, and insensitivity on campus, going so far as to specifically name perpetrators of sexual and racial abuse.

[Read: "Two Instagram Earthquakes Rock AU"]

Several major AU student organizations experienced internal convulsions, including Greek Life oversight organizations such as the Interfraternity Council, AU College Democrats, and AU Student Government, as well as fraternities and sororities themselves. Many individuals removed themselves entirely from Greek Life and became advocates for total abolition, while others remained silent and resolute in the face of these unprecedented allegations. These postings also drove a wedge down the middle of the AU Student Government—which includes a large number of elected officials involved in Greek Life—shedding light on the prevailing existence of serious conflicts of interest. Pressure was levied by a newly organized Coalition to Abolish Greek Life on members of AUSG who were still part of fraternities to disaffiliate.

[Read: "Coalition to Abolish Greek Life Becomes On-Campus Political Party"]

The Instagram turmoil of the summer sparked campus-wide dialogue about the relationship between Greek Life and sexual assault at AU, a topic which AUSG has been forced to consider in the following months in the midst of the community’s calls for stronger regulatory measures, if not complete abolition.