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Sex on the Row By Thumper

August 24, 2010

It’s big. It’s here. It’s what everyone talks about their first year at SC. It’s…the row.

Just getting out of the clutches of their helicopter parents, it is to be expected. Most people cannot get into clubs or bars, so where are you going to party? It has lots of alcohol, lots of people and lots of energy. It can be a lot of fun if you do it right, and play it smart. But, there is a dark side, and almost everyone experiences it eventually.

First off, we need to understand the culture.

The Row is a traditional, conservative institution. The row is divided based on race (except for the occasional “token” minority), sex, and, anecdotally, represents a disproportionately wealthy and conservative segment of the USC population. Homosexuality is extremely limited and homophobia abounds. People pledge for a number of reasons, the top generally being social in nature; networking, parties, or friends. Having to pay for these things ultimately reinforces the “exclusive” aspect of the row. You need to keep the frat up to par to get your money’s worth. What, ultimately, justifies the money paid? The young women.

The row exists as a social mechanism for bringing in young, naïve girls. Presumably, this is for sex, but it could also be to help perpetuate the competition between frats for “coolness” –the sexual exploits are the measure for how successful a frat is. None of this would be a problem, however, if it wasn’t for the overall treatment of girls. Giving away alcohol to underage minors is pretty awesome, but they would not do it if they were not getting anything in return.

First, and least shocking, is the social role of women in the Frat system. Referred to as “bitches,” women are viewed as little more than objects of sexual conquest. Secondly, and more disturbingly, is the amount of rape that occurs on the row, both in the form of “too drunk to consent” rape and being roofyed.

An anonymous alumni recounts that she woke up in a frat house, not remembering anything from the night before, and having signs of being violated. Her sorority house has a policy of not informing the police about such matters, and they brought her home, rather than the hospital, where she probably should have gone. Sadly, such stories are common, and incidents are vastly underreported.

But you can help avoid such a situation.

Bring friends you know you can trust and designate someone to be a sober person that can watch you. Have someone available on campus that you can call to pick you up (I had a couple of girls do this my freshman year). Go to the row. Get your free buzz. But be smart.

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