IFC reviews WPA survey results in meeting with Campus Life
Co-creators of the Women’s Panhellenic Association independent climate survey presented data relevant to Washington University fraternities at a meeting with the Interfraternity Council and Campus Life Thursday.
In a survey Women’s Panhellenic Association (WPA) president senior Genevieve Leach and senior Rachel Lynn Braly co-created, approximately 290 sorority members reported at least one instance of sexual harassment or assault by members of every Greek fraternity chapter on campus.
In the survey, questions asked about experiences of sexual violence. Two questions asked respondents to identify which fraternity the perpetrators of sexual violence were members of.
“It was nerve-wracking because I just didn’t know how anyone was going to react. [They’re] not easy numbers to look at, for anyone,” Leach said. “I was feeling better as it was going on just because I could really tell people were taking it seriously and [we] haven’t had that in a while.”
Following the presentation of information, Braly and Leach were available to answer questions about the survey and its contents.
“The most interesting question I thought was that they wanted to know more chapter-specific data on their end, which we could not provide them,” Braly said. “That was a really good question, and that really showed that individual fraternity men wanted to see what kinds of behaviors to better educate their members.”
Braly and Leach said that they hoped to address misconceptions that the survey was intended to target fraternities.
“A lot of times the story that we heard would be secondhand or like directly from a friend to me, but when I go to talk to an administrator or somebody else about it, they’d be like, ‘Oh, well that’s just rumors. We don’t really know. We don’t have numbers,’” Leach said. “This survey was really born out of frustration with the administration. Yes, there’s frustration with fraternities, but it was targeted at fixing and creating healing in our community.”
Representatives from Campus Life were also present at the meeting. Prior to the meeting, Program Coordinator for Fraternity/Sorority Life Molly Bennett briefed the fraternity chapters individually on each specific chapter’s results.
“Sexual assault and interpersonal violence is the perceived problem, but I think we need to take a look at all the small things that build up to creating the culture where sexual violence is a reality in our community, and there are so many things that build that up,” Bennett said.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) Bystander Intervention Chair junior Jonah Sacks said that those present were able to have a productive conversation about how best to address the problem of sexual violence across fraternities.
“It was difficult because you have all of IFC, every different fraternity represented talking about this issue and this is an issue for people to talk about, especially when people reflect on their own chapter numbers in this larger group,” Sacks said. “It’s incredibly difficult, but the ensuing conversations of what actionable steps we can take was mind-blowing.”
In reference to Title Mine movement on the University’s campus, Executive Director for Campus Life Leslie Heusted said that moments of student activism often result in change.
“I think there have been moments where students have come together and made a decision that it was time for a change,” Heusted said. “What I can say is when I have seen those moments on campuses that I have been working at, it’s a moment to be recognized as one of change.”
According to Leach and Braly, the survey functions as an entry point for the Greek community to talk about sexual violence on campus.
“Things were really bad before, but we couldn’t talk about it,” Leach said. “We didn’t have the tools to talk about it, and so the purpose of the survey was to give us the tools to talk about what’s already happening.”
“I walked away at the end of the meeting feeling really excited that there was both a sense of deliberate action, but also a sense of urgency,” Braly said.
IFC president Jack Leshem was unable to comment at the time of publication.