The University of Missouri Panhellenic Association To Implement Sexual Violence Education Plan Fall 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Carolyn Welter, Vice President of Public Relations
The University of Missouri Panhellenic Association To Implement Sexual
Violence Education Plan Fall 2015
COLUMBIA, MO (June 15, 2015) – The University of Missouri’s Panhellenic Association will implement a Sexual Violence Education Plan at the start of the 2015-2016 school year that will set education requirements for new members, chapter executive boards and chapter members. The plan will be implemented during the 2015-2016 school year.
The plan was drafted by PHA Vice President of Risk Management, Kendall Foley after months of diligent research and communication with the PHA Executive Board, chapter presidents, chapter members, the Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Center and Assistant Vice Provost and Title IX Administrator Ellen Eardley.
The Sexual Violence Education Plan, while related, was created prior to the proposals made by the Fraternity Alumni Consortium and will be implemented regardless of any future administrative policies.
Attached is an outline and explanation of the Sexual Violence Education Plan.
For additional information on the Sexual Violence Education Plan, contact PHA Vice President of Public Relations Carolyn Welter, email@example.com or PHA Vice President of Risk Management Kendall Foley, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION: The University of Missouri Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council are two of the three councils within the Office of Greek Life. The Panhellenic Association is the governing body over the 15 recognized NPC sororities and one affiliate sorority on our campus. An Executive Board comprised of eight sorority women are elected each year in order to promote unity within the sororities through weekly delegation, frequent events for the whole PHA community, hosting Formal Recruitment each year and much more. The Executive Board works to promote the four University of Missouri Panhellenic values, sisterhood, scholarship, leadership and service, which are the common threads that unite all of our sorority women. You can learn more about the organization at http://greeklife.missouri.edu/pha/.
University of Missouri
Sexual Violence Education Plan
Throughout the spring 2015 semester, since the current Panhellenic Association board members began our terms, we have been involved in a constant and progressive dialogue about sexual violence in our community. We have been reaching out to campus resources, opening up channels of communication to hear concerns and brainstorming the best ways to serve our community by addressing this crime with education, support, and sisterhood. We have collaborated within our council, with the Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Center and Title IX Office, with chapter and campus leaders and with the sorority chapter members we aim to serve. From that communication and cooperation that we are incredibly thankful for, we have developed a comprehensive plan to address the concerns that have been raised surrounding the issue of sexual violence. The plan focuses entirely on the principles of education, support and preparation. Those are our goals, first and foremost.
Specific concerns that we have heard in spades from members of the PHA community and others can be seen directly reflected in the details of our plan. We have strategically incorporated the issues our community is facing into our extensive plan to create a safe community where our members can feel comfortable and empowered to make their own decisions and enjoy their time at the university.
Firstly, the PHA board recognizes that it is unrealistic and ineffective to treat the issue of sexual violence as if it affects all of our members in the same way. We have tailored the education plan to address members throughout all phases of their time in college and different types of members within the sorority chapter.
Women are most likely to become victims of a sexual crime within their first semester of college. Furthermore, we have become aware that women coming into college have generally been wildly underexposed to sexual violence education. In particular, it seems that a significant concern is that younger members are not aware of what constitutes different types of sexual violence.
- New member peer educators: about ten new members from each chapter’s pledge class in the fall will undergo focused education training where they will learn about of sexual violence prevention and reporting. They will be challenged to have informal conversations with their peers within their pledge class to encourage positive bystander intervention and spread the education they received.
- Education program: chapters will be required to host an education session with all new members during the new member period and the new member peer educators will help facilitate the session. The program will be designed in a collaborative effort between PHA, the RSVP center and the Title IX office.
Leaders of a sorority chapter are often put into difficult situations when their attention is called to a member of their chapter who has become a victim of sexual violence. While these women are the trusted leaders of their chapters, they are often not trained on how to navigate situations like these. A climate that allows the politics of the Greek system and misunderstandings of the reporting process can also be cultivated when the leaders of a chapter are not thoroughly educated on sexual violence and how to address it.
- Support training summit: all chapter executive council members will be required to attend a summit where they will receive sexual violence education and go through training on how to handle situations of sexual violence when they arise within the chapters.
- Training and resource manual: all executive board members will receive manuals that they can use throughout the year to refer back to the training and education they received at their summit.
If chapter members receive sexual violence programs at all, it is often surface-level education that does not progress their thinking or challenge them. In addition, they can often end up receiving the same presentation or program several times throughout their years in college. The overall culture of sexual violence in the community reflects the lack of education that the average chapter member has had.
- Yearly education requirement loop: all chapters will be required to provide a sexual violence education program at least once a year for their members. PHA, the RSVP center and the Title IX office will be working together to create four different presentations that are in-depth and will challenge sorority women. The chapters will be set on four-year loop so that the average sorority member sees each of the programs once, but no member will have to repeat a program.
- Optional support training: chapter members who are interested in learning more about sexual violence, reporting and support will be offered a training program so that they are better equipped to help support and educate their sisters within the chapter setting.
The Panhellenic Association believes that this education plan addresses the concerns presenting themselves in our community and that it will be immensely effective if executed consistently in the coming years. Together, we can change the culture of our community and create a place where our women feel safe and comfortable, while still empowering them to be the strong and amazing people we know they are.
Kendall Foley, PHA Vice President of Risk Management