Mar 032005
 
Authors: Caroline Welch

Greek Life and the Office of Women's Programs and Studies are teaming up to combat sexual assault.

The two offices have merged to create "Greeks Against Sexual Assault," a program Chris Linder, assistant director of women's programs and studies, said will help dispel some of the myths surrounding sexual assault and rape.

Linder said she got the idea from the University of Missouri-Columbia when she worked as the coordinator of Greek Life. She went to the Inter-fraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council at CSU to start the program.

"Greek students are leaders," she said. "It will provide an opportunity for them to use the leadership skills they already have to make the Greek system a place where survivors can feel safe."

In addition to dispelling myths surrounding sexual assault, Linder said the program will help Greek students play a role in reducing the number of sexual-assault incidents, help Greeks provide resources for victims, and give Greek students the knowledge and courage to address inappropriate behavior by their peers.

Each chapter has students attending weekly training sessions and sharing the information with their chapters, Linder said.

Matthew Mulligan, senior construction management major and president of Delta Chi, has been part of the steering committee since the program began in fall 2004.

Mulligan said the goal is to have one or two knowledgeable people in each chapter to help connect survivors with resources.

"We don't want to deal directly with the problem," he said. "We want to listen to (victims) and tell them they are not wrong. We want survivors to be able to go to someone they know and trust as the first step to recovery."

But it takes both men and women to battle this issue, and Mulligan said he joined because the program lacked men.

"I wanted to be the first male and then get other gentlemen to join," he said. "If we get guys involved, maybe sexual assault won't happen as often."

Mulligan said he also joined to help dispel the myths that sexual assault is a Greek problem and help shed a positive light on Greek life.

"It's neat to be a part of something that will swing Greek Life," he said. "We have taken a hard hit. We are showing that we are leaders on campus regardless of what others think."

Eventually, the program will expand to include more than the Greek community, said Lindsay Sell, a graduate student in student affairs and higher education who is working with the Office of Women's Programs and Studies.

"Any community can use education related to sexual assault," said Sell, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. "There is not more of a need for this type of education in Greek Life, but this gives them a chance to become leaders. We want the Greek community to become educators themselves."

And Sell said the program is off to a great start.

"We're really excited," she said. "We've had a wonderful turnout for this pilot program. It speaks volumes about this community's willingness to become aware and educated about the topic."

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