A reminder of assualt threat

The recent university decision to end all NIU fraternity little sister programs by the end of this semester has brought the issue of sexual assault to the front pages of the newspaper once again.

The university’s action, initiated by Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, was partially prompted by the alleged rape of a little sister at a fraternity party late last semester.

Complaints of sexual assault stemming from such parties are nothing new. And Dalton acknowledged that past little sisters also have included sexual harrassment and stereotyping, as well as alcohol abuse.

These problems are unfortunate, but shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone when the setting of such parties is examined. It’s a simple fact that college students who socialize while drinking alcohol place themselves at a greater risk of sexual assualt than those who don’t.

This isn’t just a problem in the greek system, to be sure. Any party with alcohol is a potential danger for partygoers. Students should be always aware of that threat and take appropriate precautions.

One precaution is the “buddy system.” Partygoers, particularly females, should pair up to make sure their partner is safe. The buddy system is just one relatively simple procedure that could help curb the number of assaults that start with socializing.

The issue of ending NIU little sister programs doubtlessly will be debated for some time – it raises questions concerning such topics as the university’s authority over fraternities in such a matter and the real role of such programs. For the time being, however, perhaps the situation can benefit NIU in a small way by reminding us of the problems and dangers of sexual assault.