November 6, 2014

Interfraternity Council Takes Steps to Combat Sexual Violence at Cornell

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Over the past week, the Interfraternity Council has taken steps toward targeting and starting the conversation about salient issues on campus — particularly those surrounding sexual violence.

According to IFC President Cameron Pritchett ’15, the IFC unanimously passed a resolution Oct. 29 that requires all chapters to host in-house trainings on topics of alcohol and consent education and bystander intervention.

The resolution states that all fraternities that wish to be eligible to host social events must have at least 75 percent house attendance at an in-house or in-person training, according to a document provided by the IFC. The trainings will be carried out by campus organizations such as Cayuga’s Watchers, ConsentEd, Wingman 101 and the Women’s Resource Center.

Garrison Lovely ’16, president of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, said he believes that training for all fraternity members will aid in recognizing potentially critical situations and will empower members to “intervene when necessary.”

“I don’t believe my brothers contribute to a culture of sexual violence, but passivity can allow terrible things to happen,” Lovely said.

Members of the IFC also took to social media to voice their stance against sexual assault on campus this week, uploading a video to YouTube that featured fraternity members stating why they are choosing to stand against it.

According to Pritchett, the idea for the video came about when members of the council decided that it was time for “voices of chapter leaders to be heard” on the topic of sexual assault.

“In the past, silence has been deafening,” Pritchett said. “For me, this is a matter of safety. No person should fear being sexual[ly] assaulted in any environment — let alone on a campus intended to educate the world’s brightest minds.”

The video — which was uploaded Tuesday — borrows statistics from the United States Department of Justice, stating that fewer than five percent of completed and attempted rapes of college women are reported to law enforcement.

Lovely said he joined the movement in order to dispel the myth that “fraternities foster a culture of sexual violence against women.”

“I believe that Greek men need to publicly recognize this criticism and dispel it through active steps to prevent sexual assault and eliminate the culture that fosters it,” he said.

According to a Justice Department statistic shown in the video, 19 percent of undergraduate women reported experiencing attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college.

Spencer Nord ’16, IFC vice president of University and community relations, said he believes these statistics are “frightening” not only from a personal view, but also from the perspective of the IFC in general.

“The IFC decided to make a video standing against sexual assault because we see ourselves as leaders who have the ability to impact changes here at Cornell and beyond,” Nord said. “The video is a great way to show members of the Cornell community — inside and outside of Greek life — that sexual assault will not be tolerated.”

The IFC also takes part in the “No More” campaign — a national campaign in which celebrities, athletes and other recognizable figures explain the need for an end to sexual violence, according to Pritchett. The campaign was replicated on campus last semester, featuring members of the Greek community holding signs describing why the individuals say “no more” to sexual violence.

“We hope the poster campaign and social media will broaden awareness about [sexual assault] throughout the Cornell community,” Pritchett said.