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Frats take on sexual assault

Laura Bailey
Fort Collins Coloradoan
Vail, CO Colorado

FORT COLLINS (AP) ” A group of fraternity brothers at Colorado State University has decided to get involved with a problem typically thought of as a women’s issue.

The Phi Delta Theta fraternity recently launched a campaign to educate men on campus about sexual assault.

Led by president Rob Pieratt and a live-in graduate adviser, Keith Lopez, the men are trying to raise awareness among fellow Greeks and other college men.

“It’s important for guys to know that anyone affected by alcohol cannot legally consent,” Pieratt said, adding that he believes some students, especially younger ones, could be stopped from making bad judgments with the help of peer mentoring.

To do all this, the fraternity received a $5,000 grant last month from university president Larry Penley and the Greek Vision Awards, in which sororities and fraternities competed to win funds for a campus community project.

With the money, the Phi Delts are planning a five-day awareness event on campus next spring. As part of it, they will bring in a nationally known public speaker and collect donations to give to a local rape crisis center.

But next spring’s event is not the first involvement the fraternity has had in the issue, Lopez said.

Lopez teaches a sexual assault awareness class to fraternity and sorority members that the fraternity helped create with the Office of Women’s Programs at CSU.

The class was taught for the first time this spring. It is the highlight of the new Greeks Against Sexual Assault program, which the fraternity co-founded.

Lopez said their efforts were inspired by studies that indicate a majority of college rapes are committed by fraternity men against sorority women.

When his fellow Greeks hear that, they’re astounded, he said.

“They want to do something about that statistic,” he said. “That’s not at all who we want our community portrayed as.”

Included in the statistics to which Lopez refers is research from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., that says that 55 percent of gang rapes on college campuses are committed by fraternity members. The studies found that hyper-masculine environments, coupled with a culture where drinking has historically been accepted, contributes to the statistics.

Lopez said to educate college men on legal definitions of sexual assault, peer-to- peer counseling, specifically man-to-man, has been shown to be effective.

As part of their public awareness event next spring, the men will offer mini-mentoring sessions to fraternities, but the highlight will be a high-profile event on the plaza outside Lory Student Center.

There, they’ll set up a teeter totter to be ridden throughout each day by one woman and one man to represent the need for men and women to work together on the issue, Lopez said.

“It’s not just a women’s issue. It takes men and women working together to put an end to it,” he said.

CSU Phi Delta Theta Chapter:

http://myservices.phideltatheta.org/dashboard2.aspx?chapter24


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