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The Center for Women and Gender Takes Action Against Sexual Assault

Recent events in the news at Utah State University show just how much USU needs to have a conversation about sexual assault on campus. The Center for Women and Gender is fostering those conversations with two upcoming events; Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event put on by SAAVI and The Hunting ground film. Both events will take place April 15th on campus at USU.

On March 25, 2015 Ryan Wray, the former president of Pi Kappa Alpha was arrested and booked for forcible sex abuse against a young woman that attends Utah State University. The young woman was attending a weekend party at the fraternity when she was put in Wray’s care. She awoke to find herself being sexually assaulted by Wray and later reported the incident to authorities after hearing two other women had experienced the same thing. Wray confessed to gropping the youngw women while they were unconscious. According to Pi Kappa Alpha members Wray was the fraternity safeguard, he was in charge of caring for those who couldn’t care for themselves.

The current PIKE president Alex Souvall said, “We regret any suffering this has causes for the victims of Mr. Wray’s actions. We are taking a hard look at ourselves and using outside resources to educate and increase our awareness around preventing sexual assault misconduct. I just hope that people realize that one individual doesn’t represent the chapter and by no means are we okay with any sort of sexual misconduct.”

Souvall said the fraternity is going to start educating their chapter on sexual assault prevention and focus their future philanthropic events toward addressing sexual assault. The chapter is going to be doing a show at the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” which will take place April 15 in the Taggart Student Center at USU. He said they want to express to the women on campus that they in no way condone such behavior and will take the necessary precautions to members who participate in sexual misconduct.

The case concerning Wray has brought a lot of negative attention to the PIKE house but will hopefully open the eyes of the young men and women at USU. It is the CWG’s opinion that there needs to be more awareness concerning sexual assault and rape on campus within the Greek life and to the students in general. Many students on campus are unaware of the resources available to them to gain knowledge about safety.

Students at USU feel sexual assault is an issue here, and the subject of rape and violence needs to be an open conversation.

Anna Tuckett is a  sophomore at Utah State and she says, “I look up to the girl for reporting her abuse. She’s setting an example for other women in situations like hers. I think USU can bring more awareness to campus by talking about these types of situations and discussing how they can be prevented.”

Alanna Nafziger is a graduate student and said she feels very strongly about the situation and that it could have been prevented if it had been talked about.

“In light of the recent accusations of sexual assault on USU campus I think it’s important to look at the culture that fosters that sort of violence. Sadly, the news lately seems full of college campuses across the United States dealing with these issues of rape and sexual assault. How to make people who have been the victim of such violence feel like they should speak up about it or that if they do it will make a difference is luckily becoming more relevant too. It’s also essential in my mind that people stop classifying sexual assault as a women’s only issue. Here in Utah there are really strong gender roles in place, that can provide wonderful support for women but on the flip side those same roles can serve to silence them by promoting the idea that outside the home their opinions are not as important as their male counterparts. It would help if people felt comfortable banding together against perpetrators of the assaults instead of forming gender based fractions. I know that USU hosts a number of events every year that promote awareness of sexual violence such as the Clothesline Project, Take Back the Night, and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, but as far as I know the startling high number of cases still leaves a lot of room for improvement. People need to feel like they matter, that if they are victims of sexual abuse it’s not ever their fault and they have a safe community they can turn to if that happens to them. How USU, or any institution gets there I’m not totally sure, but I do know it’s going to have to involve everyone, not just the people directly affected,” Nafziger said.

Sam Katseanas is a senior. He said we need to change the culture of sexual assault. “After hearing what happened it brings up the thought that because this was reported by the girls I’m sure other members knew what was going on. The fact that it wasn’t stopped by these other members tells me that it could possibly be a fad of their culture that they don’t necessarily agree with it but that they’re not shunning. I think that USU can take a stance and show that this isn’t acceptable, even demonstrations where you’re changing the narrative, such as changing ‘no means no’ to ‘yes means yes.’ I think that will really make an awareness,” he said.

Weston Kay a junior, and said he believes issues like this happen more often than we hear about. “I think it’s a horrible situation that’s more prevalent than what we hear. I think we need to raise awareness about all the programs and support that we have on campus so that people know where to go if they hear of a situation or a situation ever happens to them. I think this is unacceptable behavior because he had the responsibility to take care of those kids. I don’t understand how you could first of all betray your fraternity and also all the women you know.”

Dr. Ann Austin,  director for The Center for Women and Gender says, “I fully realize that not every PIKE member would do such a thing or endorse it or even think it’s humorous and I believe that the PIKEs are men of very good will and so I would like to challenge and invite the brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha to start a “He for She” campaign here on campus.”

We, the Center for Women and Gender so issue the challenge to PIKE fraternity at USU. Start a “He for She” campaign and dig in for change. Come talk to us and we will help you.

The Center for Women and Gender challenges you - and the 
fraternities at Utah State University to vocally and publically challenge
rape culture on our campus. Come work with us.

In light of recent events CWG’s student club, Perspectives, will be showing a film called “The Hunting Ground”on April 15. The documentary is an expose of rape crimes on U.S college campuses. This film will bring to light how important it is to speak up and not give up if something like this happens to you. It will be inspirational and motivational for women and men all across the U.S. Make sure to come and check it out. Click on the link to watch the trailer.

http://www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com/

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @cwgusu

Resources here on campus:

SAAVI (Sexual Assault & Anti Violence Information)

  • Located at the Student Health & Wellness Center
  • (435) 797-1510
  • Hotline: (435) 797-RAPE (7273)

*After 5pm M-F, on weekends, and on holidays, the Hotline is answered by CAPSA.

  • Email:  saaviinfo@aggiemail.usu.edu

CAPSA (Community Abuse & Prevention Services Agency)

  • Provides services (at no charge) to qualified USU students to assist them in coping with the after effects of sexual assault and other forms of violence.
  • 435-797-1012