Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fraternity men address sexual violence

Fraternity men are often in the news for countless unflattering things, however our experience with these guys has been far more positive. Here is a blog written by the type of men we so often work with but not enough folks write about as it is not sensational or sexy, they are simply men who believe in respect and equality. The author is someone we have grown to respect and from his insights I am sure you will see why. Below the entry is the link to the Fraternity blog, The Road so you can comment and see more of the cool things they are talking about.

Greek Men, Weak Men
By Jeremy Berggren
Today is the last day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I wanted to make some points.

1. Power, as the fourth fundamental principle of Deltism, relates to sexual assault on an interpersonal, group, and systemic levels. By that I mean sexual assault can be about power and control. As Greek men we should also consider ourselves responsible in this fight. It is not just a woman's issue, it is a mens issue too. When someone you know is sexually assaulted you have the power to do the right thing, and that could be: 1. Believe them. 2. Remind them it is not their fault. There are other resources on the Unite for Change website. Knowledge is power.

2. Faith: Did you know that rape is the only crime in which the victim must prove their innocence?If we are really concerned about moral superiority, wouldn't we associate responsibility with the perpetrator and not make the survivor prove their innocence?The thought that women "cry rape," is about a dereliction of duty, it is essentially being weak - in heart and mind. As Greek men we need to rise above these pithy statements and myths. Weak men can fall back on social norms, sexism, and the status quo. Are we committed to excellence or status quo preservation?

3. Courage is standing up for what is right, even in the face of fear. A member at a chapter was expelled when the officers found out he attempted to rape a member of a sorority on campus. Earlier the member was trying to get in a room with the female, but she was drunk. Chapter brothers pulled him away, but later that night he got in again. The chapter called an emergency meeting and immediately moved to expel the member.It wasn't about myth or making the female prove it, the brothers knew there was a problem and they took action, and some of this member's best friends were in the chapter. Accountability is a piss in the bucket if there are no consequences. In this case it meant expulsion. That took courage.
4. Truth. Every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.
In 8 out of 10 rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator. 1 in 4 college women surveyed are victims of rape or attempted rape. 90% of all acquaintance rapes involve alcohol. 84% of college men who committed rape said that what they did was definitely not rape. 42% of college women who are raped tell no one about their assault. Nearly one third of college men said they were likely to have sex with an unwilling partner if they thought they could get away with it. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before age 18. Males are the least likely to report a sexual assault, though it is estimated they make up 10% of all victims.

In terms of what we can do, as Delts, there are many things. Going back to power I want to address four levels (and by this I mean that power = access to resources):Personal = accessing your own experiences, knowledge, and learning more. A great resource is on the Unite for Change website.
Interpersonal = how you share resources with one other person. If this is a sexual assault survivor it could be your knowledge that it is not their fault, it could be believing in them, it could be using your personal power to seek proper steps from that point. If this is a chapter brother it could be sharing these resources with him, so he can be another ally and advocate to stop sexual assault.Group = how groups of people share resources. This is your chapter. Your family. Within the group leadership is necessary to create a vision of where you want the group to go. It can also mean aligning with other groups to have more resources about sexual assault, and what men can do about it. System = groups under an umbrella, or a lot of resources. This could be the overall Fraternity, or the Greek system. As Delts we've used "Playing the Game," a DVD about sexual assault. But are there other things we should be doing? Do you, as a student (and legislative body of Delta Tau Delta) have the power to make changes in the larger system?
Sexual assault is not a woman's issue. As Greek men we are associating with sorority members, our mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and more. Weak men would only associate responsibility to the mom's, little sisters, cousins, girlfriends, classmates, and other women in our lives and our communities. As Greek men we must take issue with this.
We've got to live our values, and stand beside and up for those we care about.

Jeremy Berggren is the director of leadership development for Delta Tau Delta and recently attended a Male Ally Conference at the University if Illinois in Chicago. He believes all fraternities have a systemic responsibility to address men's violence/sexual assault and our highest values and aspirations call us to do so.

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