Fraternity plans to enforce changes in assault prevention
Sigma Alpha Mu will be joining a consortium of eight national and international fraternity member clients of James R. Favor & Company, a company of insurance brokers and risk management consultants with a focus on the collegiate Greek community, to implement the Fraternity Health and Safety Initiative. The initiative aims to combat sexual and relationship misconduct, binge drinking and hazing, according to a Sept. 23 press release from the FHSI, which was developed by James R. Favor & Company in 2013.
Sigma Alpha Mu’s national organization will join Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Triangle Fraternity in taking immediate action to implement the FHSI to educate members to “prevent, identify and intervene against these behaviors,” the release states.
The FHSI consists of three curricula focused on the “dangerous behaviors college-aged men are at increased risk of exhibiting,” according to the release. The curricula focus heavily on bystander intervention, “to help empower students to recognize, diagnose and, most importantly, intervene in potentially harmful situations.”
Sigma Alpha Mu Gamma Chi Chapter President Alexander Arad ’16 said in an interview with the Justice that the curriculum has not yet affected the chapter at Brandeis. The national organization has informed him and other leaders about the change but did not provide them with any new materials. However, he said, the national organization has already been requiring certain programming to take place.
Several officers are sent to represent the Gamma Chi chapter at Chapter Leadership Day, a seminar held by the Sigma Alpha Mu national organization that discusses leadership, anti-hazing policies and sexual misconduct. The National Convention held over the summer covers similar topics, according to Arad.
The national organization also requires the chapter to hold seminars to make sure “that we provide a safe environment for events,” said Arad. He noted that the chapter holds one seminar at the beginning of every semester, although there is usually one held at the end of the semester as well. The risk manager, who is also the vice president of the chapter, often leads these meetings.
According to Arad, the chapter has not had anyone outside of the fraternity come in to train its members—although he said that this is what the national organization recommends that the chapters do. “It’s kind of hard, especially here because we’re not recognized, so we can’t ask Brandeis for help. We can go and find a professor or someone here who does that kind of thing and ask them, but we haven’t yet,” he said.
According to an Oct. 29, 1991 Justice article, the Committee on Rape Education, an on-campus group at the time, denied providing pledges of the Gamma Chi chapter with sexual assault and harassment training because Greek Life was not recognized.
Arad said that similar obstacles are still present in providing trainings and programming for members of the University chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu.
Despite the impediments that Arad mentioned, Brendan Weintraub ’16, who is currently organizing bystander trainings while Sexual Assault and Prevention Specialist Sheila McMahon is on academic leave, wrote in an email to the Justice that several students involved in fraternities and sororities have attended the multiple train-the-trainer sessions—programs at which students are instructed on how to lead bystander intervention trainings—held over the past academic year. “Many of them want to facilitate discussions about bystander intervention to make sure they are doing their best to help keep the Brandeis community safe,” he wrote.
Weintraub went on to write that fraternities and sororities are encouraged to request and hold training sessions. “Although Greek Life is not recognized on campus, those who are a part of it are first and foremost Brandeis students,” he wrote. “Although they cannot book spaces on campus, the Office of Prevention Services finds a location for them and oversee[s] the trainings, just like we would do with any other students.”
However, according to Arad, no one from the University has reached out to his chapter to set up any training sessions.
According to the statement, advisers, alumni and staff members of the national and international organizations will reinforce the completion of the FHSI curriculum. Currently, according to Arad, the national organization sends a representative once per semester to check on the chapter to ensure that it is implementing protocol properly.
The consortium of fraternities in the FHSI is expected to reach more than 35,000 undergraduate students on more than 350 college campuses with the FHSI curricula in the first year and represents approximately 75,000 undergraduate men at more than 550 college campuses, according to the statement.