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The Dartmouth
May 28, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Sex assault awareness training kicks off

This Fall term marked the beginning of the required sexual assault awareness training program for all fraternity pledge classes, a program designed in collaboration with the Inter-fraternity Council, Mentors Against Violence and Sexual Assault Peer Advisors last spring.

While only seven of the 13 fraternities on campus held training sessions this term due to scheduling difficulties, the program has received a generally positive response from several members of the Greek community. MAV Chair Anna Swanson '08, who oversees the program, said that the other six fraternities plan to participate in the program next term.

With the success of the fraternity pilot program this term, the Panhellenic Council unanimously voted at their last meeting to begin a similar program in all seven sororities come winter.

At those fraternities that have already completed the training, the two-hour session was mainly discussion-based and was facilitated by two moderators. Ideally, Swanson said, one of the moderators was a MAV and the other was a member of the fraternity.

"We generally like to have male facilitators lead the discussions as they reflect the demographic of the group," Swanson said. "And if possible, we try to have a member of the fraternity be a facilitator since one of the MAV goals is to have members of a community talking to their own community."

Due to scheduling conflicts, some of the houses had both a male and a female moderator, although Swanson emphasized that, since the trainings were in fraternities, there was always at least one male moderator present.

"The moderators worked well," said Alex Caron '10, an Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity pledge, in an e-mail. "Having a brother as one moderator made the program feel less like an outside group trying to criticize and fix our 'frat boy' mentalities and more like a dialogue within our house and within the campus community."

According to Swanson, the two-hour trainings were meant to be interactive while discussing different issues surrounding sexual assault and clarifying any areas of confusion. Some topics included the role of consent when alcohol is involved, as well as New Hampshire's state policy on alcohol and the role of consent.

"Our point is to directly address the gray issues, and people should feel comfortable asking any questions that they have," Swanson said. "We focus on empowering members of fraternities to be active bystanders, people who can see something potentially bad happening and be able to diffuse the situation."

Those in attendance at the trainings found the activities and discussion to be informative, and said the discussion brought forth topics that would not normally be discussed in such a setting.

"The program taught us how to recognize possible rape situations and methods to intervene as a bystander," said Brendan McVeigh '10, a new member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, in an e-mail. "There was an exercise where a vague statement about the Greek system or gender roles was made and we were asked to line up according to agreement, disagreement, or uncertainty. This exercise, and the overall program, promoted very interesting dialogue among the brothers regarding often silent topics."

While the program has been generally well-received and will therefore not change drastically next term, some individuals felt the two-hour session was too long and suggested that humor could be used to delve into tough issues.

"It is a heavy topic to talk about and it started out heavy," said Arjun Chandrasekaran '08, a SAPA and member of Alpha Chi. "There are a surprising number of things you can make jokes about and have a good time with."

While the new program was developed through a joint effort between the IFC, MAV and SAPA, at this time the program is mainly driven by the IFC and MAV, as SAPA is dealing with its own logistical changes this term since the departure of the program's advisor, Leah Prescott. Swanson stressed that, while SAPA is not currently a major player in the program, the organization is invested in the program's success and will become more involved in the future.

The president of Psi Upsilon fraternity, Michael Kreicher '08, said that he expected his house to continue the training in the future. Kreicher said he believes it is an important responsibility of the house to make its members knowledgeable of issues surrounding sexual assault.

"[The program] was very informative, and I think it was good to show the new members and the entire brotherhood that as a house we can speak openly about the issues of sexual assault and gender relations," Kreicher said.