New Research: Navigating the Risks of Party Rape

New Research: Navigating the Risks of Party Rape

campus-shot.jpgIspa-Landa's research suggests that women are reluctant to  penalize entire fraternities for sexual violence.

Women who have experienced sexual violence at fraternity parties have often been blamed for what happened to them. But new research on an elite college campus found that it’s becoming less common to fault the victim.

Women on that campus viewed institutional structures within the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the university as responsible for creating risky party environments conducive to sexual assault, according to a new study led by Simone Ispa-Landa, an associate professor in Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy.

Fundamentally, the power dynamics and entrenched history at play in the historically white Greek life party scene haven’t changed much since the ‘no means no’ campus activism of the 1990s.

The study was published in the journal Sociology of Education. The findings are based on the results of 121 interviews with 68 sorority women from 2017-2019, including 53 rank-and-file sorority members and 15 sorority members who had special roles as risk managers tasked with making parties safer.

“Instead of shaming young people for wanting to socialize at parties, we should be creating safer conditions for them to do so,” Ispa-Landa said. “Good policy meets people where they are.”

The study “Navigating the Risks of Party Rape in Historically White Greek Life at an Elite College: Women’s Accounts” was coauthored by alumna Sara E. Thomas (PhD20), a research associate at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine.

Read the full story in Northwestern News.

By Max Witynsky
Last Modified: 4/7/23