Off-campus Greek life joins forces with university for event
April 25, 2019
Sexual assault is a reoccuring reality plaguing college campuses everywhere. At Santa Clara, leaders of fraternities and sororities are taking steps to combat the issue.
The Sexual Assault Awareness Summit was held in Mayer Theatre on Tuesday, April 16 and Wednesday, April 17.
Although open to anyone, the target audience was members of off-campus Greek life. Attendance was even a requirement among some chapters.
“The Sexual Assault Awareness Summit was an important first step in bringing together the Greek organizations in order to create a safer community for all of us to live and participate in,” senior Bobby Curry said, president of California Phi.
Plans for this event began to take shape a year ago.
Orchestrated largely by senior member of Alpha Phi and Associated Student Government (ASG) president Sam Pérez, this event was the first product of a formal relationship between off-campus Greek life and the university in over 10 years.
“The summit was a great opportunity for closer interaction between Greek life and the university,” senior Bo Kendall said, president of Sigma Chi. “Since the university decided to de-affiliate in 2001, both sides have largely ignored each other. Today, around one third of Santa Clara students are members of off-campus Greek organizations and I think it is great that we are having conversations about how both parties can support each other.”
Vice Provost for Student Life Jeanne Rosenberger provided administrative support as well as the venue.
“I think this is a very exciting opportunity for the Greek community to be able to tap into the university’s resources,” senior Pedro Da Silva said, grand master of ceremonies for Kappa Sigma.
The summit was made possible with the help of ASG and the Wellness Center.
Tiger Simpson, assistant director and violence prevention program coordinator for the Wellness Center, administered the main content for the summit as a professional trained in explaining the realities of sexual assault.
“I’m hoping that this Sexual Assault Awareness Summit will jump-start a larger conversation of fostering a safer environment at SCU, and education is the first step,” senior and former president of Alpha Phi Marie Kanapeaux said.
The topic of the summit was carefully deliberated by Greek life leaders.
During fall quarter, meetings were held to discuss which issues needed to be addressed. Everyone agreed sexual assault was a prominent problem, especially considering the Campus Climate Survey results.
“It was really powerful to show everyone that the Greek leaders are united in combating this issue of sexual assault and have begun partnering with the school to also find ways we can put a stop to this atrocity,” junior Kendall Deitch said, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
Fraternities are now committed to having water at their parties, along with more protocol surrounding safety of its members, according to Pérez.
“In both my organization and others, positive changes are already being made based off of ideas from Tiger and the panel,” junior Matt Lencioni said, president of Pi Kappa Alpha. “Greek leaders have been continuing productive conversations since the summit.”
One aspect that will likely change in the future will be the emphasis on Greek life members being the sole attendees.
While the summit will likely still cater to Greek life, leaders want to be more inclusive to everyone in the university community.
“This is the first iteration of this event so obviously there are going to be hiccups,” junior and President of Sigma Pi Jim O’Brien said, “but I look forward to seeing how the summit is refined and continuously improved in years to come.”
Plans have already been made to make the Sexual Assault Awareness Summit an annual event, backed by both positive feedback and aspects that can be improved.
“We want the Sexual Assault Awareness Summit 2020 to be even better than the 2019 summit,” Pérez said.
Contact Meghan McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.