According to the Bureau of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey, 237, 868 women report being sexually assaulted each year. Of these 237, 868 women, 45.6 percent are college-aged. The necessity of awareness and support is an ongoing process. In recognition of the need and in honor of Domestic Violence Prevention Month, Temple’s Inter-Fraternal Council and Multicultural Greek Council brothers aim to raise awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence prevention this spring while debunking existing stereotypes.
“Unfortunately the stereotype of fraternities is that we are a bunch of guys who are just looking out for ourselves, looking to get drunk and chase women,” said president of Sigma Alpha Mu, senior media studies and production major Justin Diaz. “The media at large has [demonized] fraternities in every aspect.”
Diaz said stereotypes of the Greek community have limited those who seek to uphold the standards of brotherhood. The media’s special attention and inflation of what it sees as wild parties, hazing and sexual deviance as a way of life for fraternities “couldn’t be further from the truth” Diaz said, adding that these stereotypes only apply to “men who don’t represent the ideals of Greek life.”
Diaz said he wants to encourage his fellow brothers to ignore those who seek to label them and instead focus their intentions towards setting a positive example. He said he believes that these stereotypes are only perpetuated by those who indulge themselves in the “ignorance and lack of understanding” that exists in all levels of society and of which Greek life is not immune.
“At the end of the day, people will think what they will and the media will report what they will,” Diaz said. “We tell our brothers to always act as if they had their letters on. That is to say, you are always representing our fraternity and your brothers, so act in a way that would reflect positively on us.”
The brothers of Sigma Alpha Mu also work with the sororities on campus. A brother will “adopt” a member of a female sorority as a “little” sister, creating a pseudo-family for Greek Life. Diaz said he can’t imagine having a disrespectful attitude toward women with that relationship in his life.
On March 19 at 11:30 a.m. in the Founder’s Garden, the Sigma Alpha Mu brothers participated in “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” This national event features men of all ages walking in high heels to end sexual violence. Temple has participated in the event for the past three years, with over 100 men walking last year. The effort raises funds for rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters.
“We all know some great women who have been subjected to sexual assault, and one of our brothers was the victim of a sexual assault my freshman year,” Diaz said. “We all banded together to support him in his time of need, and as a result of that the issue is very important to many of us.”
Working with members of the IFC, MGC and Panhellenic communities, Walk a Mile is a major event for Greek life. Aside from the upcoming Relay for Life event and Greek Showcase in October, the Walk a Mile event gathered the most Greek organizations in support of one cause.
Lora Strum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.