On Sept. 22, Drexel’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life sent a survey to members of Greek life. In the survey, one of the options — to which respondents could indicate the degree to which they agree or disagree — read: “If a sister goes to a party dressed like a slut, she is probably looking to hook up.” There was significant reaction to the survey on social media, and The Triangle interviewed Caroline Scheinfeld, public relations chair and technology chair of the Panhellenic Council, about the survey. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
The Triangle: What issue(s) do you have with the FSL survey?
Caroline Scheinfeld: The issue with the FSL survey are the two questions in a section about sexual assault on campus that refer to a sorority woman who dresses or acts a certain way as a “slut.” When collecting data for research purposes, it is extremely important not to use leading language. The question could have been written in a variety of ways without ever using a derogatory term used to put down women who are casual or open with their sexuality.
TT: What do you think about the intentions behind the survey?
CS: I believe that the original intentions behind Drexel sending out the survey were in the right place and I appreciated the opportunity to have students voice their opinion. I am the first person to say that we should be starting dialogue about sexual assault and the attitudes surrounding that on our campus; however, the use of the word “slut” has no place in a scientific study.
TT: Has FSL ever used language like this in the past, were you very surprised by this survey?
CS: No, they haven’t used language like this before which is one of the reasons I was so shocked. Many sorority women shared that it was so upsetting that they slammed their laptops shut and walked away. I should not have to defend why my sisters are not “sluts,” or why it would be just fine if they were, and neither should FSL. We are all here in this position now because the conversation has changed and the women of this university find the use of the word “slut,” whether shouted as a slur or written within a research study, unacceptable.
TT: Do you think this is indicative of any larger problems in FSL and/or the Drexel Community?
CS: Plain and simple, we need to start talking about sexual assault on college campuses, Drexel included. The survey questions were not written by Drexel administrators — victim blaming is a problem that reaches much farther than Drexel.
Too many people continue to normalize a damaging culture of objectifying women. Not only do we need to end the rape-supportive attitudes, we need to make ample resources available to those who need it and take more responsibility once controversy arrives. Sexual violence on college campuses is pervasive. According to RAINN, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Only about 1 in 6 college-aged female survivors received assistance from a victim services agency. This isn’t only an issue in the Greek community. We need to take steps to prevent this campus-wide and ensure the safety, support and encouragement of every student on this campus and off.
TT: How would you like FSL to remedy this?
CS: I’m extremely grateful for the way the university has responded thus far. Discontinuing the survey was a step in the right direction, but I am continuing to meet and work with administrators in Student Life to help see how we can best move forward as a community. I look forward to hearing what other students on this campus have to say and how we can change the culture of Drexel, one conversation at a time.