The fraternity may be as violent as the gang. Collegiate America may be as dangerous for women as urban America. If sexual violence is a violent crime, then the fraternity of today may be committing as many violent crimes as the gang of the 1990s that spooked fearful Americans into tough-on-crime policies. The fraternity may be as frequently violent as the “savage gang MS-13,” as President Donald Trump called it in his State of the Union Address in January to spook fearful Americans into tough immigration policies. But Americans stereotype the gang and fraternity differently and treat them differently and rationalize their violence differently and police them differently. What if Americans looked at them similarly? What if Americans treated them similarly? What if Americans treated their victims similarly?
That is not to suggest that Americans should treat fraternities the same way they treat gangs right now any more than they should treat gangs the way they treat fraternities right now. But if experts on gang violence and sexual violence came together to extract the most effective policies and ideas from both, what lessons would they learn? Perhaps they would extract from the approach to the gang: the intense political will, the recognition of the crisis, the billions in public resources, the aggressiveness of investigators, the absolute refusal to blame the victims of violence, the centering of the victim. Perhaps they would extract from the approach to the fraternity: efforts focused on prevention and education, empathy for the accused, factoring in substance abuse, recognizing the causal complexity of human violence.