Ashley McDermott ’26
After a long week of attending classes and studying, most students here at Trinity look forward to going to fraternity parties over the weekend. This is not the case for some students who have had bad experiences that have stopped them from wanting to go out. I, as a contributing writer to the Tripod, conducted a survey with the Queer Resource Center to learn from LGBTQ+ students about their perspective on the party culture here.
Most LGBTQ+ students do not go out, only a third of them do. Those that do go out all agreed that they would have difficulty getting into fraternity parties. In terms of how many LGBTQ+ students would be expected to attend a fraternity party, respondents to the survey indicated that between zero and ten attendees would be expected. Their lack of attendance correlates to the treatment they experience while they are out. Out of all the students that do go out, they all stated that people within these parties do not typically exhibit respect towards the LGBTQ+ students. One thing that stood out about this survey was that the students who said that they do not go to frat parties overwhelmingly reported having a negative experience while they were out. For most students, this did not stop them from going out again in the future, but a third of the students said that they have avoided parties due to their past negative experiences there.
One specific incident occurred at the Spotlight Party in 2021, where cis-gendered straight students came in and caused discomfort for the LGBTQ+ students that were in attendance. This event was specifically for LGBTQ+ students on campus, yet the behavior of these students made many of them leave. In most cases, LGBTQ+ students will receive rude looks, but it will not escalate to verbal or physical assault. Queer students on campus state that they go out to be with friends and to interact in a fun setting; however, many of these students will avoid going out due to feeling unsafe, drinking, drug culture, and fear of being harmed. Many students also simply prefer to be in a smaller and more controlled setting. Many queer students feel misrepresented at fraternity parties, and do not feel that it is a setting where they can authentically and comfortably be themselves. When asked what could be done differently at these parties to end this cycle, the respondents believed that adding better regulations or even requiring fraternity brothers to go through inclusivity training. This training would also teach students ways to de-escalate a situation where someone felt unsafe and threatened. Students who took the survey did state that they feared that these initiatives would be short-lived—possibly even unattainable.
The community here on campus needs to be just that, a community. We owe it to each other to look after one another, despite where we come from and who we are. Respect and tolerance should be a given. As a collective, we can work for a better future, where we can all have fun and enjoy our time together. This article is meant to shed light on a situation that has been swept under the rug, and it is meant to force us to reevaluate ourselves and our beliefs in order to grow and be there for each other. Let’s all remember to look after each other. Let’s all remember to be conscious of what we do and say to each other. We as a community can work together for a better future of inclusivity, where every student can authentically be themselves without fear of prejudice and discrimination.