IFC peer education seeks to prevent sexual violence, break down societal expectations for men

IFC VP of Programming Nick Danter said he saw the chapter members become willing to have frank, open discussions.

Delta Kappa Epsilon, Sigma Phi Delta, Delta Upsilon and Sigma Pi members participated in interactive discussions Nov. 15 to shed light on society’s views of masculinity in an effort to prevent sexual violence.

The Interfraternity Council held a series of peer education sessions beginning at noon in the Physics Building. The four sessions occurred at noon, 2, 4 and 6 p.m., each with a different fraternity in attendance.

“All fraternities are required to go through sexual assault prevention training, but there was only room for four in (this specific) session,” IFC Vice President of Public Relations Parker Briden said in an email.

Even so, all the fraternities have been open to participating in the training, he said.

“It was too bad that we could only start with four, because there are a lot more fraternities eager to be involved,” Briden said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm about the program since they first heard about it, and we’re excited to get even more (involved) next time that weren’t able to do it this semester.”

Nick Danter and Trace Murray, the IFC vice presidents of programming and risk management, respectively, led the discussions. Danter said they taught chapter members about masculinity, Title IX, alcohol and substance abuse, the fundamentals of sexual assault and how all of the above relate to sexual violence issues and prevention.

“You get out as much as you put in, so the more you’re willing to talk, the more you’ll get out of it,” Danter said to the fraternity members in the session introduction.

Murray said the sessions aimed to increase the members’ overall education on the subject of sexual assault.

“Every fraternity has a presentation on sexual assault, but a lot of it kind of gets washed away and nobody pays attention,” Murray said. “We’re focused a little more on discussion-based presentations to create a dialogue between people and hopefully address these issues.”

Danter and Murray had been planning the sessions since January, when their terms on the IFC executive board began. Kim Scates, the education coordinator at the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, served as the adviser to the IFC Peer Educators during the training process.

“(As the trainer,) I was very much involved in ensuring the information was accurate,” Scates said.

She also said that Danter and Murray worked hard to make sure that the sessions were well-organized and that the fraternity members would be engaged.

“We’ve been doing education on campus for a very long time now,” Scates said. “These topics aren’t new. Peer education is not new, but students were asking for more, so we’re hoping to meet their needs by providing this training.”

As the sessions went along, the chapter members became more attentive and willing to have frank, open discussions, Danter said.

“I think that definitely some of the genuine conversation they had will leave the classroom and will be discussed amongst their brothers and friends back in the Greek community,” Danter said.

Sophomore Brett Pawlak, a member of Sigma Phi Delta, said he went into the session not knowing much of what to expect.

“I knew the talk was going to be over masculinity and society’s pressures on what guys should be,” he said. “I didn’t really know anything past that.”

Pawlak said the discussions, which included some TED talks, were an informative experience for him.

“(They) made me realize exactly how much men are put into this little box of how we should act and what we should be,” he said. “I didn’t grow up with too many of the examples that they were listing, but the discussion made me very understanding of how the world treats men.”

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