The Greek Tri-Council brought together members of the Cornell community — both Greek and non-Greek — to discuss sexual assault prevention Monday.
The event was organized into several small discussions that concluded with a larger open forum, facilitated by members of the Interfraternity, Panhellenic and Multicultural Greek Letter Councils.
Adam Kahn ’17, IFC Vice President of Finance, stressed that the Greek community wanted to hear student viewpoints on the issue of sexual assault.
“The purpose of a summit is to create a space for the student body to share how they feel about the campus climate surrounding sexual violence,” Kahn said. “We hope to leave here with a better understanding of how to improve our culture, both Greek and non-Greek, here on campus.”
Kahn added that the discussions had not been held to talk about specific events, but rather to make broader changes to the campus as a whole.
Natasha Wissman ’17, President of Panhellenic council, said she believed it was important to hear different opinions on this issue.
“Everybody has got their own unique experiences and we want to be really respectful of that,” Wissman said.
In one discussion group, students determined that a major issue contributing to sexual violence is the lack of a concrete definition for sexual consent, especially when alcohol is involved.
“I see the issue of sexual assault as the symptom of a deeper problem that manifests in the way that men and women relate to each other on campus, whether they are in Greek life or not,” said Camille Edwards ’18. “I think that when men and women stop respecting each other and themselves, these relationships can produce a type of gray area where neither person clearly understands what is and is not okay.”
Elise Czuchna ’18 suggested that explicitly asking for consent could eliminate this ambiguity.
“I think it’s important that people feel comfortable saying no, as well as comfortable saying yes,” Czuchna said. “And I think that it’s especially important that people feel comfortable being able to explicitly ask whether or not someone is willing to have sex with them.”
Samantha Chanko ’18 said she believes people need to think more about how they talk about sex.
“I think we need to have more discussions involving both genders,” Chanko said. “When you discuss sexual assault with just girls and just guys, you tend to move towards labelling one group as the victim and the other as the perpetrator. I feel that [today’s] discussion has been way more beneficial to me than the consent education training I got at my sorority house the other day.”
Edwards agreed that conversations about sex needed to change, adding that these dialogues should happen before incidents of sexual assault.
“In my opinion, having discussions regarding sexual assault prevention are needed and definitely spark conversation, but in order to really solve this issue I think the conversation needs to begin much earlier,” Edwards said.