Discourse / Editorials / May 17, 2017

Thoughts from the Embers: Work to expand activism beyond affiliations

We were disappointed to hear about the events that transpired during last weekend’s Take Back the Night march. The event, which is put on annually by Students Against Sexism in Society, aims to raise awareness about sexual violence and elevate the voices of survivors and their allies on this campus.

Unfortunately, this message was overshadowed when a few members of Phi Gamma Delta yelled at and blasted music over the marchers when they passed the fraternity house.

We understand that these actions were not made by the fraternity as a whole, but that does not mean this organization should not be held accountable for what transpired on their property. We had hoped to see a stronger sense of allyship from members of FIJI and all Greek organizations at this event.

FIJI released a statement to TKS after being asked to comment on the situation. However, members did not want to have the statement published in full. We have yet to see a publicly released statement to the campus apologizing to those who were hurt and silenced by the behavior.

Members of the fraternity’s executive board stated that the events were a misunderstanding between the members of the fraternity that participated in the actions and the marchers. Clarifying this to the campus at large would be beneficial and an explanation would help marchers and outsiders to understand what exactly happened instead of speculating.

We acknowledge that fraternities on campus are taking steps to educate members on sexual violence. Members of FIJI specifically have worked with Title IX Coordinator Kim Schrader about potential events to raise awareness about sexual assault, the chapter holds a seminar with Director of Multicultural Student Advisement and chapter advisor Tianna Cervantez each fall about consent and preventing sexual assault, members have tabled for sexual assault and domestic violence awareness months and all members have completed the Haven Understanding Sexual Assault online education program.

While these actions are both important and necessary, we ask that efforts to combat campus sexual violence do not stop there. We’d like to see fraternity members, as well as the rest of the campus body, showing up at and supporting more events and causes that are not put on by organizations they are affiliated with.

In the future, we would like to see representatives of all fraternities at events like Take Back the Night to better understand the issues being addressed and share the information presented with the fraternity as a whole. We ask that you not just show up, but take the time to engage with this issue among members of the Knox community who have dedicated their time to fighting sexual violence.

At the end of their statement, members of the FIJI Executive Board encourage a revival of the march and say they will “continue to assist in the constant battle against sexual violence and rape culture in every way they can.” Organizing an event like Take Back the Night is no small task, so we hope a revival of this march would include major and visible support from the fraternity that had select members interrupt it.

TKS Editorial Board

Tags:  activism discourse editorial fraternity greek life Phi Gamma Delta sexual assault take back the night

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