One in four women in college is a survivor of sexual assault.
This statistic is one Steven Ritchie, president of Temple’s chapter of One In Four, is determined to change. One In Four is a national organization dedicated to preventing sexual assault.
Ritchie interned at Women Organized Against Rape over the summer and found out about a chapter of One In Four at the University of Pennsylvania.
“When I saw what One In Four really meant, I was like, why isn’t this common knowledge?” Ritchie said. “It’s an alarming number; you know it’s prevalent, but you don’t know it’s that prevalent.”
Ritchie said he was inspired by Penn’s chapter and decided to start one at Temple.
The Temple chapter will provide educational sessions and presentations to larger groups. The sessions will define sexual assault and rape, point out signs to look for and teach students how to react as a bystander.
“A lot of students don’t realize what sexual assault is,” Ritchie said. “They don’t realize that [it can be] something as little as catcalling.”
The all-male chapter will reach out to fraternities and sports teams.
“Whenever I talk to guys about sexual assault, most of them don’t know, they don’t think it applies to them,” Ritchie said. “We can appeal to the people [other organizations] we might not reach out to and connect to them.”
Mack Caruso, secretary for Temple Student Government, is the vice president of the chapter.
“[One In Four] is an action-based initiative as opposed to awareness-based,” Caruso said. “I’m trying to see if we can have a several-pronged approach to solving the issue.”
Caruso said this approach includes awareness, action and training, and applying what participants learned when confronted with a real-world situation.
He said he became interested in combating sexual assault when he was an Owl Team Leader for freshman orientation last year. A student who had been impacted by sexual assault gave a speech, and Caruso said her story moved him.
Both Ritchie and Caruso are members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. The current 24 members of the One In Four chapter are primarily brothers in the fraternity as well, Ritchie said.
“They want to do anything they can to help,” he added. “They’ve been the biggest cheerleaders.”
Student body president Ryan Rinaldi said One In Four also has TSG’s support.
“It’s really important for people to know combating sexual assault is something that’s very near and dear to [TSG] and one of the avenues we explored was One In Four,” he said. “That speaks volumes for how proactive Greeks are in combating this as well.”
The chapter is currently going through training, seeking more members and collaborating with other organizations. Ritchie and Caruso hope members will be as diverse and inclusive as possible.
“My other dream for these initiatives is to source talent and find people who are passionate and trusted and can hopefully help to run these things,” Ritchie said.
Lian Parsons can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Lian_Parsons.