Letter to the Editor: Men’s role in sexual violence prevention

Photo by Brenda Lin

Men…we need your help. We can be leaders in working to end sexual violence on college campuses. At Tech, we can, and should, be doing just that.

This summer’s report from the Sexual Violence Task Force convened by President Peterson illustrates the Institute’s concerted efforts to educate the Tech community about sexual assault and prevent acts of sexual violence on our campus. As male students who served on this task force and who are involved in these efforts, we understand the importance of engaging men to end sexual violence.

According to data from the CDC, approximately 20-25% of women experience attempted or completed sexual assault during their time in college. National statistics show that 5.3% of men have experienced some form of sexual violence. Members of the LGBTQ community are at equal or even higher risk for experiencing sexual violence in their lifetimes. Surveys conducted at Tech show us that these statistics are a reality on our campus. Together, these numbers help shape a picture of the environment we live in today; one in which every single person likely knows someone else who is a survivor of sexual assault.

Notably, in the task force’s final report, there are five distinct mentions to how men are a critical group within Tech that must be engaged in working towards ending sexual violence. While some efforts to engage men on this issue already exist, these references point to the need to develop additional sexual violence prevention and education projects designed to “engage men both as leaders and program facilitators.” As male students on this campus, we agree.

Here is what we know about how sexual violence pertains to men: we know that while men are most often the perpetrators of sexual violence, only about 6% of men on college campuses are actually responsible for the majority of cases, and are often repeat perpetrators. This means that the vast majority of men do not commit acts of sexual violence. We know that men can be effective bystanders and intervene in potentially dangerous situations, as well as act as role models for respect in our community. Given all of this, as well as the gender ratio on our campus, we know that men must be a part of the community response to change the culture that allows sexual violence to exist at Tech.

We recognize that it will take a coordinated campus-wide response to effectively change the Tech culture, but it is important to note some of the progress that has already been made in some of our individual communities.

The Greek community at Tech is taking a strong stance against sexual violence. Sororities have always been a great supporter with various seminars and specially programmed events. To increase sexual violence awareness and leadership amongst Greek men, the IFC chapters are looking to increase their new member education programs as well as encourage fraternities to host their own local and campus-wide events. This academic year, there will be a number of fraternity events addressing masculinity and sexual violence. A few specific events include the third annual Man Up Week and Fraternity Men Against Violence trainings hosted by the VOICE Initiative.

Additionally, one well-supported student effort, led by members of One Voice Atlanta, has focused on a video campaign specifically created to engage men in the conversation around ending sexual violence. Dozens of men have already stepped up, willing to lend their collective voices to support the message that enough is enough.

Another community partner is the Athletic Association (GTAA), which is a strong supporter of campus efforts to address sexual violence. All men’s and women’s varsity athletic teams receive annual training on sexual violence prevention and response. GTAA is also partnering with VOICE to bring a large-scale speaker on this topic to campus in the spring. The speaker will specifically address how men can be a part of the solution to preventing sexual violence.

We must acknowledge that men play a crucial role in helping to end sexual violence. However, at the end of the day, we are counting on every single individual, regardless of gender, to take action and help end sexual assault at Tech. We need to be diligent in seeing that this vision becomes a reality.

For more information on how you can become involved in the effort to end sexual violence at Tech, visit voice.gatech.edu.

— Dillon Roseen, Undergraduate Student Body President 

& Christopher Mast, Administrative Vice President Interfraternity Council