April 9, 2002

Sexual Health Education in Frats

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The pledging process for fraternities is undergoing changes with a new pilot project proposed by the Interfraternity Council (IFC). This program provides sexual health education to new members of fraternities.

Four fraternities (Sigma Pi, Zeta Psi, Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Phi Epsilon) have already included the sex education lesson into the new member education process. The curriculum covers different aspects of sexual health, such as sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). The different factors of the program are still being developed.

“This project will be system-wide next spring,” said Paul El-Meouchy ’03, IFC member and educator of these sessions. “In the fall we will recruit volunteers to train so that they can go into all the fraternities and educate the new members. This will be an IFC requirement. This year is being used to test the program and see how it can be made better, how we can improve it.”

Since the latest rape case on Cornell’s campus involving a fraternity occurred last semester, the lesson involves “a talk about sexual assault — how it is defined, how can your new members protect themselves from being wrongfully accused as well as learning how to respect others’ personal space,” El-Meochy said. “Plenty of guys worry about getting [accused] of sexual assault and we really try to go over what can be done to make sure they are really getting consent and how they can protect themselves and their pledge brothers from being in an uncomfortable situation,” he added.

The first house to host this lesson was the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.

“I felt that it was necessary for the brothers and new members of my chapter to address sexual health in a straightforward manner,” said Jacob F. Leclair ’03, chapter president of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.

Another member commented on the sexual education session.

“It provided an opportunity for honest, open communication about a subject that is often to taboo for us to discuss normally if it is not in a joking matter,” said John Scagnelli ’02, member of the Sigma Pi fraternity. “It is important that this program gets instated into pledge programs because not all people receive adequate sex-ed and even if they have in the past it is always helpful to have a review.”

For pledges of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, the lesson was a mandatory event.

“I was a little skeptical at first about having Paul [El-Meouchy] come to the house and talk to our guys about sex and rape, but, it was very informative and interesting – I think our guys got a lot out of it,” said Graham A. Schell ’04, chapter president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

The pledges at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity were cooperative and interested in the topic during the lesson on April 2.

“By going to the center of ‘action’, you are preventing future problems by informing the people,” said Athan Slotkin ’05, potential member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

Other people commented on the sessions as well.

“I think because every pledge class will have different levels of sexual experience — this will encourage discussion,” said Jonathan Harsch ’05.

Some students expressed support for the program.

“It could work, if implemented properly,” Michael Shapiro ’03 said.

“It’s a good idea for the fraternity members on campus to be aware of the risks out there and the best ways to safety and responsibly handle sex because fraternity houses foster an environment in which members go to parties and potentially put themselves in a position where this knowledge will be useful,” Meghan Bass ’04 said.

Other people expressed skepticism over the education session.

“I think it will do just as much good as it did in high school,” said Gordon Hunt ’04, member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. “If you don’t know basically everything you need to know about sex by now, there’s something wrong with you.”

Archived article by Veronika Belenkaya