Opinion: Not a Laughing Matter: Greek Life’s Perspective on Sexual Assault Awareness

Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College

Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College

By Colin Kowalski and Emma Stejbach, Guest Columnists

Given the recent article “13 Places Safer than FIJI Basement on Friday Night” in the April Fools’ Edition of The Gettysburgian, and the fact that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the governing bodies of Greek Life, the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council, would like to share insight into what the Greek community is doing to foster critical conversation and action to promote student safety.
Making jokes or making light of problems such as sexual assault and domestic violence carry great consequences. Though this language may seem harmless or merely distasteful, it is both counterproductive and insensitive to serious issues on this campus that Greek life, among many other groups, are dedicated to remedying.

Both the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council are advancing the momentum from past years’ councils by working together to forge new initiatives and programming that specifically address sexual misconduct. Just two weeks ago, these councils attended and co-sponsored with DPS, the Office of Student Right and Responsibilities, and Title IX the Sexual Misconduct Reporting Initiative Panel and the He for She Discussion to end gender based violence.

Additionally, both councils have taken steps this semester to strengthen their relationship with the Greek Life Equity and Inclusion Committee, a group which has been tasked to pinpoint and address equity and inclusion issues among our organizations. We created this committee to address shortcomings that we, as the Greek community, acknowledge exist and affect the entire campus. Furthermore, our councils have worked closely with chapters to improve social event policy and create sober monitor programs to promote a safe and accountable environment at our events.

Looking ahead to this month, the Greek community hopes to partner with SASA and the Women’s Center with their many events already scheduled. These include the Queer discussion focused on relationship violence on the third week of April, Young Voters Day on April 14th, and Wear Teal Day (to promote sexual assault awareness) on April 12th. In addition, the IFC is planning to host another Sexual Misconduct Panel later this semester to further the conversation around sexual assault and violence in a positive way.

Both councils are committed to collaborating with Greek and non-Greek organizations on campus, and welcome any further discussion in relation to this article.

Please feel free to contact either the Panhellenic President, Emma Stejbach (stejem01@gettysburg.edu) or the Interfraternity Council President, Colin Kowalski (kowaco01@gettysburg.edu) with any concerns or ideas of how to constructively move the conversation.

In closing we want to give a warm thanks to all those working to address issues of power-based personal violence throughout the year, including Green Dot, SASA, Survivors, Inc., DPS, Women and Gender Studies, and the Residence Life Staff.

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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