University Of Utah fraternity Says It Wants To Help Curb Sexual Assault

Few fraternities are known for helping prevent sexual assault.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a University of Utah chapter is hoping to buck that trend, and it just won $3,200 to dedicate to the effort.

Beta Theta Pi recently received the grant to put toward its campaign against rape on campus and in Salt Lake City.  The Robin McGraw Revelation Foundation, Students of the World and Pivot Television awarded the money to the chapter.

“Unfortunately, it is an issue that happens on our campus.” said Mitchell Cox, president of the University of Utah chapter and a psychology major graduating in December. “Men have to be the ones to step up and stop it.”

Tiffany Thorne, the director of SlutWalk SLC, agrees.

“You guys have a really important and huge task on campus,” she said in a panel on sexual assault hosted by the fraternity Thursday. And it starts, Thorne said, with the guys rethinking how they use the word “rape” in casual conversation.

When Thorne admonishes men, saying “No, you didn’t just get ‘raped’ in that video game,” she said, it has little effect. “But if I have a male friend stepping in and saying, ‘You can’t do that. That’s not cool,’ ” she said, “it immediately shuts down.”

Five of the sexual assaults reported 2013 at the university took place in on-campus housing, the most recent crime report shows. Six more occurred either on campus or on “public property.”

Cox and other chapter leaders started working with Salt Lake City’s Rape Recovery Center about a year ago, when a Beta alum suggested they focus their philanthropic efforts there.

In years past, much talk of preventing rape has focused on what women should do — watching how much they drink or avoiding attending parties alone, for example.

Cox says he and his fraternity brothers are trying to get the word out that it’s up to men to curb sexual assault. Their message echoes a national chorus from a White House task force: If she doesn’t consent, or if she’s too drunk to consent, it’s rape. If you think someone is in danger of being assaulted, step in.

University of Utah President David Pershing says he tells students to look out for one another.

“The big thing I say to every student I talk to is: Go to parties with a friend. Do not leave your friend at a party,” he said recently.

In talking with men on campus, “I say, watch what your friends are doing.”

Holly Mullen, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center, praises the Betas’ effort.

“I think they’re trying to be proactive about some of this stuff and get ahead of it before it becomes a problem,” she said. “We have to just keep sending this message out: It has to be enthusiastic consent.”