Earlier this week I visited The Roastery on W. Main to celebrate a cause near to my heart, as well as my Greek brothers’ and sisters’.
Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Delta Pi used this past week to raise awareness about sexual assault on campus through a #LiveYourOath campaign, fundraisers and on-campus events.
On Tuesday, they partnered with The Roastery to donate proceeds from the #LiveYourOath latte to the Bluegrass Rape and Crisis Center. A survey by the Association of American Universities said more than one in four women reported experiencing sexual assault on a college campus, and one in 33 men will report sexual assault in their lifetime, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
It’s time to talk about sexual assault. On Thursday, Alpha Phi became the first Panhellenic organization to stand against the Safe Campus Act, a controversial piece of legislation that could hinder the reporting and investigation of sexual assault cases on college campuses.
Currently universities are allowed to investigate and punish individuals and organizations even if police do not. The Safe Campus Act would eliminate this right, by requiring that the victim report to law enforcement before the university can get involved.
According to the Huffington Post, the Safe Campus Act “stipulates that colleges may only investigate an allegation of a criminal sexual assault if the alleged victim agrees to report it to local law enforcement.”
If the victim doesn’t press charges, then schools are drastically limited in how they can investigate and aid students, only able to provide counseling and academic support. There is no justice in this.
The federal gender equity law Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
While the Safe Campus Act is not a direct violation of Title IX, it infringes on it. The act is another way for universities to turn a blind eye when it comes to sexual assault on campus and to wash their hands of the issue.
It heightens the social stigma that victims are weak, by saying that if you are not strong enough to press charges, you are not entitled to receive support and justice.
Victims of sexual assault often feel shame about their assault and coming forward can take years. The horrors of their assault shouldn’t be heightened with a public display of the vicious crime commited against them.
Buying a $4 cup of coffee may not change the world, but it’s a start. I am proud of Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Delta Pi for creating a conversation on campus about sexual assault. I am proud of Alpha Delta Pi for creating a conversation in the country about sexual assault. It’s more than just a Greek issue, but I’m proud to see the Greek community working together to create a positive conversation.
So #LiveYourOath — this week and every week — because sexual assault isn’t just “their problem;” it affects all of us, Greek and non-Greek.
Lexington Souers is the assistant features editor of the Kentucky Kernel.