Nationally, fraternity and sorority collegiate communities are wrestling with the perception, often an accurate one, that sexual violence is common occurrence among their memberships. The Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life (DFSL) at the University of Maryland (UMD), in partnership with the University Health Center, recognized this challenging condition over 15 years ago. Starting with a single program, over the years UMD’s DFSL has expanded the scope of its Sexual Assault Prevention program to incorporate a variety of collaborations and support for students. This slate of programs is supported by a 20-hour graduate assistant who is responsible for shepherding these programs, developing and supporting collaborations with other campus offices, and assessing the effectiveness of these programs.
Our Sexual Violence Prevention Program includes:
Ten Man Plan/Ten Woman Plan (TMP/TWP)
This 2015 AFA Change Initiative Award Winning program is a 10-week facilitated group dialogue program that offers a small group of members of a single chapter to explore how to engage in bystander intervention, how to support victim/survivors of sexual violence, and the cultural foundations that make sexual violence such a commonplace part of society in general and Greek life in particular. Recent semesters have had 20 chapters participating.
Mandatory Sexual Violence Programming for Chapter Expectations
In the 2015-2016 school year, the Department made the move to require all chapters to complete a Sexual Assault/Violence Prevention & Awareness program to meet chapter expectations. Students may develop their own program, collaborate with another student organization, bring an outside speaker, or utilize the peer education program in CARE to Stop Violence (a part of the University Health Center). Groups may use the TMP/TWP to fulfill this requirement if the Plan members engage the broader chapter in a conversation or presentation.
Council-Mandated Sexual Violence Training
In addition to the chapter expectations program, the Homecoming and Spring Fest Planning Committees collaborate with the Graduate Coordinator for Sexual Assault Prevention to require chapters participating in Homecoming or Spring Fest to have a workshop on sexual violence prevention. These workshops were created to address provide and reinforce knowledge and skills that enable our chapters to socialize together safely. Many social events accompany the athletic, service, skit, and other components of these all-community events and the workshop aims to help grouped organizations to have a productive conversation in anticipation of these week-long events.
Greek Award: Outstanding Sexual Violence Prevention Program
The Greek Award for Outstanding Sexual Violence PRevention PRogram was inaugurated in 2016. This program seeks to highlight a chapter-hosted program that moves beyond basic education and engages members of the community in thinking more deeply or complexly about sexual violence, its causes, and how it might be prevented. Truly outstanding programs involve cross-council collaborations, focus on a less-explored area of sexual violence, and encourage either broad participation across the community or deep participation by the member organizations.
Annual Greek Community Attitudes towards Sexual Violence and Prevention Survey
Each spring, DFSL surveys the entirety of the Greek community to assess their experiences with sexual violence, their experiences with on-campus education efforts, their rape myth acceptance, and their willingness to intervene as bystanders. This assessment project allows DFSL and the Graduate Coordinator for Sexual Assault Prevention to gauge the effectiveness of our current programs, and highlight potential areas for improvement.