PHA’s sexual violence education plan won’t be ‘one size fits all’

The initiative was developed in coordination with the RSVP Center and Title IX Office.

The Panhellenic Association announced their sexual violence education plan Monday, just days before the June 20 Chancellor’s Summit to discuss proposed Greek Life regulations.

The plan, which PHA Vice President of Risk Management Kendall Foley said the association has been developing since January, calls for new education and training programs for sororities. Foley said input from the Greek community started rolling in during early April and the plan took off from there.

PHA worked with the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center and the Title IX Office on the initiative, according to a statement written by Foley released Monday.

“... The PHA board recognizes that it is unrealistic and ineffective to treat the issue of sexual violence as if it affects all of our members in the same way,” Foley wrote in the news release. “We have tailored the education plan to address members throughout all phases of their time in college and different types of members within the sorority chapter.”

The plan creates mandatory guidelines for educating and training new members, chapter leaders and other chapter members on sexual violence. The news release called previous education programs “surface-level.”

New members of sororities will be required to attend an education session facilitated by new member peer educators, a group of about 10 members from each pledge class who will undergo training on educating their classmates.

"The reason that we didn't want to have (a one-size-fits-all plan) is because you're in college for four years,” Foley said in an interview. “We see a lot of development and change in our members in those four years, and they need different things from the beginning to the end. It's just more effective to treat them differently when they're younger than when they're older. If you treat them all the same, you're not getting through to them as well as you could be if you develop plans that follow them throughout their time.”

Foley said these differences explain why the plan has guidelines specifically for new members.

“When new members come to college, they're kind of thrown in the party scene and they don't really know what's going on and especially not know the different definitions of types of sexual violence, things could happen to them and they could not really know what's going on," Foley said.

Chapter leaders will be trained in responding to sexual violence in their chapters through a summit and a resource manual.

“Leaders of a sorority chapter are often put into difficult situations when their attention is called to a member of their chapter who has become a victim of sexual violence,” the release stated. “... They are often not trained on how to navigate situations like these. A climate that allows the politics of the Greek system and misunderstandings of the reporting process can also be cultivated when the leaders of a chapter are not thoroughly educated on sexual violence and how to address it.”

Chapter members will be required to attend an educational session developed by PHA, the RSVP Center and the Title IX Office annually. These will be on a four-year loop to reduce the chance that any one member sees the same presentation twice. Chapter members will also be offered further support training.

"I think education is probably the most important factor,” Foley said. “When it comes down to it, most of what's happening in the community in terms of sexual violence has had to do with people who are not educated — men and women. When people don't know the definition of sexual assault and rape and people don't know what they're doing and what's happened to them, there's no way we can report it accurately and there's no way we can help people who have been victims."

Foley said she expects to discuss the plan at the Chancellor’s Summit.

“We are excited to see what a well-researched and well-prepared initiative like PHA's new sexual assault education program can do to bring Mizzou closer to our shared goal of eliminating sexual misconduct on our campus,” said Parker Briden, Interfraternity Council vice president of public relations. “PHA's actions are a perfect example of strong student leadership on this issue.”

The new guidelines will go into effect regardless of the outcome of the Fraternity Alumni Consortium’s proposed fraternity regulations, according to the release.

“The overall culture of sexual violence in the community reflects the lack of education that the average chapter member has had,” the release stated. “... The Panhellenic Association believes that this education plan addresses the concerns presenting themselves in our community and that it will be immensely effective if executed consistently in the coming years. Together, we can change the culture of our community and create a place where our women feel safe and comfortable, while still empowering them to be the strong and amazing people we know they are.”

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