Saturday at the University of Virginia was men’s bid night, one of the campus’s biggest social events. This year half its usual attendees were missing in action: Sorority members at UVA have been forbidden to attend the frat parties. The order comes from the sororities’ national presidents, who cited safety concerns and instructed women to organize “sisterhood events” instead. Women who defy the prohibition risk suspension, fines, and other penalties, national offices warned.
The decision was announced just days after university president Teresa Sullivan lifted the school’s suspension of Greek social activities. Unsurprisingly, it has prompted a backlash. UVA sororities contend the ban on parties is sexist: It places the onus on women to avoid sexual assault instead of on men to control their behavior. Rather than compelling fraternities to chang, it sends the message that women need to change—mainly, they need to stay away—to accommodate male dispositions. More than 2,400 people have signed an online petition condemning the national sororities: “Why don’t we start teaching boys not to rape instead of teaching girls how to protect themselves against rape? Given recent condemnations of fraternity culture, it’s ironic that a feminist protest might now mean defiantly attending a frat party.