Grant supports sexual assault awareness program among Greek organizations

August 13, 2018 - MSUToday

Campus officials are working to make sexual assault prevention a larger part of Greek-student life with new training programs tailored to fraternity and sorority presidents, risk managers and members.

The effort, which will build on MSU’s two-year-old “Greeks Take the Lead” initiative, is funded with a $40,000 grant from the state Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program (CSAGP) received in December 2017. The CSAGP aims to eliminate sexual assault on college campuses across Michigan.

“It is really exciting to see change, where people feel safe speaking out and survivors feel safe coming forward,” said Mary Russell, a senior from Portage, who will be one of the peer trainers in the new campaign beginning in the spring. A psychology major, Russell is a sister of Sigma Alpha Omega.

Sexual assault is recognized as a public health crisis at schools and colleges across the country. According to the Greeks Against Sexual Assault, nationally, 50 percent of sorority members experience some form of sexual coercion.

Kelly Schweda, director of the Prevention, Outreach and Education Office at MSU, spearheaded the grant proposal for the new training effort and will oversee its implementation.

“The new effort will be multi-tiered, multi-dosed and specifically designed to engage fraternity and sorority leaders,” Schweda said. “It is a cutting-edge approach that will encourage leadership, intervention and dialogue.”

Highlights will include:
• Presentations by trained student peer educators in leadership, bystander awareness and intervention.
• Annual trainings on consent, cyberstalking, sexual exploitation, online harassment, advanced bystander interventions and more.
• New staff position to build the program, manage trainings and coordinate speakers.

The 2017 grant represents the third year that MSU has successfully competed for funding from the state CSAGP, an initiative of Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder.

In the first year, the funding enabled MSU to provide bystander training to bartenders and cab drivers in the East Lansing community, empowering them with resources and information to intervene in cases where a student, staff or community member is at risk.

In the second year, MSU added sexual assault awareness education for sophomores, juniors, seniors and other continuing students, supplementing the campus’ longstanding and highly regarded Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention workshops for freshmen and new transfer students.