The members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) are challenging stereotypes about college fraternities while raising money and awareness for an important cause.
Within a year, SAE evolved from having no programming for sexual assault awareness and prevention to hosting an entire week of events dedicated to the cause and creating a position for a Director of Sexual Assault and Awareness in their chapter. They are the first chapter to create a position like this in their by-lines.
“When I joined the fraternity last year, I realized we didn’t have any programming for sexual assault awareness, which I have had a background in for quite a while,” said Samuel Lim, Director of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention.
“Without a budget last year, I set up a table in Student Union for an awareness day and it was really successful.”
After the success of the awareness day, SAE accepted a proposal from Lim to add funding for sexual awareness into their budget. Now, it is a core initiative for the entire fraternity. This past week, SAE hosted a series of five events as part of their Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Week.
“It’s important to the guys to make an impact on the surrounding area and counter sexual assault in the community,” said Mason Paulus, President of SAE. “There is pride in helping your community and raising awareness.”
The week kicked off on Monday with a Keynote Speaker Presentation given by Ashlee Canty, the SAE Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Canty spoke about the importance of understanding and respecting people’s differences, ways to be inclusive, and different aspects of Title IX including case studies, the necessity of consent, and how to be a part of the solution.
Wednesday’s event was held in partnership with the Criminal Justice Club and included a screening of The Hunting Ground, a documentary about the reality of rape crimes on college campuses. The film was shown to convey the idea that even in great chapters, there can be individuals who contribute to sexual assault. A panel of UMKC faculty and staff was held after the screening.
Students were encouraged to take action at Thursday’s Green Dot presentation. Relating aspects of psychology, sociology, and anthropology to social change and pop culture, UMKC Violence Prevention Coordinator Kacie Otto explained how students can have a social influence on campus.
Campuses with Green Dot show a decrease in sexual assault and an increase in reporting of sexual assaults.
SAE had their second annual awareness prevention table in Student Union on Friday. Students passing by were encouraged to sign the “It’s on Us” pledge poster and to donate to the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOSCA).
Throughout the week’s events SAE collected donations for MOCSA . The final event of the week was a charity event hosted at the SAE house in collaboration with the Arrowhead Stadium Management. Over $400 was raised during the week and all proceeds went to MOCSA.
“We chose MOCSA because they are local and we wanted our funds to go directly into the community so we can build a better relationship with Kansas City and the University,” said Lim.
“Part of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon creed states ‘who thinks of the rights and feeling of others, rather than his own’ and that really hits home. We make a promise to not think of just ourselves but to be responsible and take charge in our community.”
Members of SAE put a lot of hard work into the week, hoping to make a difference in the community and defy the stereotype surrounding fraternities and sexual assault.
“It has helped us become more widely known around campus,” said Arya Shekarandaz, a member of the SAE Standards Board. “And it dispels the stereotype a lot of people have coming into college about fraternities as a whole.”