Conversations with a Frat Boy: Kumail Hussain

For week 1’s edition of “Conversations of a Frat Boy,” I sat down and talked to Kumail Hussain, a member of Rho Nu Delta. Kumail’s topic of choice was sexual assault, the role of men in fraternities, and how they can be allies.

How did you feel when you saw the acts of vandalism with the Clothesline Project?

I was perplexed by what happened. It made me sad. At the time, we didn’t know who it was--regardless of them attending our school or not, they thought it would be funny to cause damage and inflict pain onto the people that put hard work into the Clothesline Project. They knew the ways their actions would impact the message these people were trying to get across.

As a male and a member of a fraternity on campus, what do you feel is your current role?

My role is realizing I’m a leader and that I have a voice. I’m aware of the ways my actions and voice reflect myself and my fraternity. Greek life is a huge culture on campus and people pay close attention to the ways in which we interact with others. People look up to us and I’ve become more aware of this sort of privilege I have as I’ve gone through college. I feel lucky to have this kind of privilege and I’m dedicated to becoming a better ally for this campus.

What do you believe you and your fellow fraternity members could be doing better to raise awareness and stand with victims of sexual assault?

It all begins with realizing it’s an issue. We all need to realize we can help or make the problem worse. Before we start these events and collaborate with various groups to raise awareness, we must be willing to take a step back and look at our own group and our own actions. It’s so superficial to put on events to raise awareness but to have ulterior motives of our fraternity potentially gaining popularity through such acts. Before doing things like this, we must be willing to do the harder things--talking about it, educating our fraternity members on how to deal with these kind of situations when they arise while they are out at parties. There are wrong and right things to do in these situations and I want my fellow fraternity members to understand the difference between the two.

How would you react if you were to find out one of your friends had sexually assaulted someone?

Think about your best friend or someone you know doing this, regardless of whether they were drunk or sober, people you know are capable of doing things like this and you have to be willing to separate your friendship from it. Despite your friendship, you must do the right thing. It may not be the easiest thing to do but you’re doing the right thing. While this may be your friend, you have to be mindful of the feelings of the person they harmed. If anything, especially if they are your “best friend,” it is your responsibility your friends don’t participate in these kinds of behaviors. In some ways, this is out of our control but by educating yourself and realizing what sexual harassment and assault is, you can help prevent things like this from happening.

Looking back on your own college experience, do you think you’ve ever shown any problematic behaviors that added to this problem?

Personally, I can safely say I’ve never done this but maybe that’s just my perception. Maybe there are girls I’ve been with that have seen situations differently than I did. Just because I believe I haven’t done it, that doesn’t make me any better. There is the flight-or-fight moment where you have to think about whether to intervene when you see questionable things at a party or a bar. These moments are uncomfortable but I realize that if I am unwilling to intervene in these times, I’m contributing to the problem.

What do you think of men like Louis C.K. and Roy Moore being predators to many women?

I don’t know much either about either of these men other than that they are men in power who have inflicted harm on women. When men like these are in power, we have to realize how this will impact men on college campuses. If we normalize these kind of behaviors in celebrities, it won’t be long until we normalize them in our friends. Regardless of who these men are, we must detach ourselves from association with them to show we don’t condone this kind of behavior. Women have come forward in relation to our own president and this is important to recognize. Men shouldn’t get a pass just because they are a celebrity or someone in power.