Greeks Against Sexual Assault

Greeks Against Sexual Assault works towards increasing awareness, educating, and eliminating sexual assault and dating violence
from the Greek community through peer education and activism amongst sororities and fraternities nationwide.

About Greeks Against Sexual Assault

The University of California, Davis has operated the Campus Violence Prevention Program (CVPP) since 1979.

In an effort to further target the Greek community, GASA was created through CVPP in the spring of 2007. A class was developed and all Greek chapters were encouraged to have a representative enroll. The first class in the fall of 2007 had 16 representatives who were educated on the facts about sexual assault and the resources available on campus. The final project for the class was for each representative to go back and present their new knowledge to their own chapters.

Due to the enormous success of the pilot program, the class will be offered on a bi-annual basis and we look forward to sharing the program with many campuses in the coming months.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Guest Post: Be a Gentleman.

This guest post was written by Spenser Tang-Smith. Spenser is in charge of operations at WebGreek and writes for WebGreek's blog, discussing issues in the Greek community.

Kingsley’s guest post on our blog about party themes brought me back to my very first college party. I was still in high school at the time, visiting a freshman friend living in the dorms. After a couple of beers, we hit the town so that I could catch a glimpse of the party scene.

Yes, we were underage…now that I’m a bit older, I promise I will never underage-drink again. Or, to put it less cynically, isn’t it scary how easy it is for youngsters to get booze? Anyway, back to the party.

I was completely blown away by what I saw when we went out that night. My high school was small, and the parties weren’t exactly wild. Everyone knew everyone, so the dress and behavior were pretty conservative. Well, this particular night saw us sneaking into a fraternity party (which apparently needed better security), and my young mind spun wildly from the pounding music, the lights, the hot and sweaty dance floor, and above all else, the girls.

I had never seen so many girls in my life! At least it felt that way. And what sent me into sensory overload was what little clothing some of them were wearing. Fueled by hormones and alcohol, I went over to the first girl I saw, who looked like she was dressed for the beach, and started dancing how I thought she wanted to be danced with. I was very very wrong, and let’s just say that my consolation prize was a drink without a cup, if you know what I mean.

Let me be clear: I’m not trying to excuse myself. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that what I was doing was wrong the moment I sauntered over. Acting on that impulse instead of taking a breath and listening to my conscience was not a good feeling, because I was selling myself short.

Let this story be a parable, a warning if you will. Guessing what a girl wants by her appearance, and acting on that assumption without clarifying, is at best dangerous and at worst it is illegal. I understood very clearly right then that exposed skin does not equal a hands-on exhibit. I absolutely regret my actions, but in retrospect, I’m very glad I learned that lesson early, before college even started.

I wish I could say the same for some of my peers, who had not had a similar experience in the past, or had somehow ignored the lesson. Walking down the street on a Saturday night (or in Isla Vista, any night), some of my friends and acquaintances were prone to remarks such as “Dude, that girl is looking to get laid tonight.” Believe it or not, gentlemen, that girl probably isn’t. She may be headed to a theme party, she may just want to feel sexy, but she is NOT wearing a sign on her neck that says “molest me.” In my view, she deserves respect for braving the chilly, foggy nights, when I found myself shivering in jeans!

So kudos to the ladies out there who wear whatever they want. The gentlemen will respect you regardless of your attire. On the whole, though, the reality remains that skimpy gets more attention than bundled up, all else being equal. It’s largely due to the fact that many men have the following graph in their heads:

Of course the above graph is satirical. Most of my best friends were great guys, as were the majority of my classmates. After all, we had gotten into one of the top public universities in the country, so we had to be doing something right.

If we want to make it so that sweatpants and sweatshirts are the same as lingerie in terms of making a girl popular at a wild several-hundred-person fraternity party, we’ll need to change a lot of things about college parties that are frankly not going to change, at least not soon. But a safe party atmosphere means that no matter how sexually charged the dance floor is, everyone is entitled to their personal space. A girl is never sending “the wrong signal,” or “asking for it.” End of story.

And guys, no one can stop you from looking, but if you don’t know her and don’t have the willingness to get to know her, at least respect her. You would not be happy if someone grabbed your wallet, because it’s stealing. You can be damn sure that grabbing anything of hers is also illegal, and even if it wasn’t, are you really going to be happy looking at yourself in the mirror later? Be a gentleman to every girl you meet, from every end of the clothing spectrum, and encourage your friends to do the same. Who knows, the word might spread that you’re a decent fellow! It worked for me, and unlike getting a drink thrown at you, I promise you won’t regret it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Party like a rockstar? No. Party like a Greek!

Here's a blog post I just wrote for WebGreek. Check out their blog at

It’s no secret that the Greeks throw the best parties. Every weekend, Greeks and non-Greeks alike flock to fraternity parties.

We know parties are a huge reason people join the Greek community. I went through sorority recruitment 8 hours after moving into my dorm room freshman year, and a week later I suddenly had my whole social calendar planned out for me. Although philanthropic opportunities, friendship, family tradition, and networking connections are also top reasons for joining, both Greeks and non-Greeks recognize the social life as a highlight of being Greek.

As a staple of college life, fraternity parties often set the tone of the Greek community, and project the Greek image to the rest of the college campus. It is important to realize the implications and pressures the party themes have on both Greek life and the people attending the parties.

For college freshmen, going to a fraternity party is practically a rite of passage. Seventeen Magazine’s blogger, Brita, even posted some tips for first-timers this past October.

On any given weekend, members of the Greek community are probably hosting or attending parties with themes like “CEOs and Office Hoes” or “Pajama Party” which inevitably turns into a lingerie party.

In November 2007, Yale Daily News ran an article called, “Feminism is not a bad word.” Throughout the article there is a discussion of party themes, female objectification vs. female empowerment, and the feminist movement on this campus.

Here’s a little excerpt from the article:

“Though his group’s parties are all named after natural disasters, Brad Hann ’09, president of Yale’s former chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, suggests that other frats select these sometimes explicit themes to create a mood, rather than to marginalize or offend individuals. “The purpose of the theme of the party is to set the tone,” Hann said. “It doesn’t sound good, but it’s kind of meant to help create a sexually charged environment, and I think it’s intentional.” But whether the themes are intended to be funny, set a mood or simply suggest a particular dress code, the potential for offense still exists. And more troubling to feminists is the possibility that a sexual atmosphere may lead to unwelcome sexual contact, especially when alcohol is involved.”

And yes, I know what you’re thinking…women decide what they want to wear and if they want to dress like that why should we stop having parties with these themes. You’re absolutely right. Women do make their own choices about what to wear. And I would hope that if a woman showed up to a Pajama Party wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt instead of a barely-there negligee that she would have just as many guys talking to her. But, the reality is that these two outfits would garner two VERY different responses.

After a quick Google search of “fraternity party themes,” I found some that step away from the “Insert catchy title here and Hoes” themes and make parties a little more interesting:

- Alphabet Party (example: “P Party” everyone dresses up as something that starts with the letter P. We went to a party like this my freshman year and people dressed up as Post-its, Price tags, Princesses, etc.)

- Represent Your State (Finally a chance to show off your hometown pride at a party with a theme other than “NorCal vs. SoCal”)

- High School Cliques (Maybe even a Glee themed party…)

Lately, Greeks have been taking steps to host parties more responsibly. At the University of Michigan, IFC and NPC are coming together to increase risk management at parties. Fraternities have started making guest lists, checking ids at the door, and issuing wristbands to keep all guests safe. And don’t worry; with lots of college undergrads the party will have a sexually charged atmosphere regardless of what theme you choose.

Shallow party themes appear to be hosted by shallow people. As Patrick mentioned in his previous blog post, “If you run a deep search of the NIC, NPC, NPHC, and NMGC member chapters, you will find that consistent among the values that support our foundations are leadership, justice, friendship, morality, and service.” Show your campus that you and your brothers are clever enough to come up with something other than telling women they need to dress like ‘hoes.’ The solution to this problem is simple- step outside the stereotypical bubble of chauvinistic party themes and get creative without objectifying the women you are inviting to your parties. And women, project your sexiness with a few more articles of clothing.

So here’s my challenge…try out one of these new themes, or come up with your own.

Make it acceptable for just one night for a girl to be sexy by showing up to a Pajama Party in sweatpants and a t-shirt.

Image courtesy of Victoria’s Secret

P.S. For the record, I know non-Greeks throw parties with these themes too…but they probably aren’t reading this blog.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Surprise 'flash mob' raises sexual violence awareness

Surprise 'flash mob' raises sexual violence awareness

By Melissa Collins

Issue date: 11/13/09 Section: News

Students performed a "flash mob" event Monday night in Linderman Library to raise awareness about sexual violence.

A flash mob is when a group of people carry out an unusual or surprising act that the public is not expecting.

"The point of a flash mob is to draw attention to yourself or to bring an issue into awareness," said Steve Bialick, '10.

Flash mobs usually last a few minutes. However, Monday night's event only lasted 90 seconds.

"We chose that time because every 90 seconds a woman is sexually assaulted," said Kristen Mason, '10.

At exactly 8 p.m., the group collapsed to the ground all at the same time. The students who were studying in the library at the time were generally confused and surprised.

"I didn't really know what was going on," said Nicole Cilcco, '13. "It definitely grabbed people's attention."

Kyle Nagarkar, '12, was also caught off guard.

"I saw it all coming together as a demonstration of some sort, but it caught me by surprise," Nagarkar said. "They handed out papers, and I couldn't help but read it. There was a lot of stuff that I didn't know."

After watching the event take place, Brandon Feil, '10, thought it was successful.

"It was a lot more in your face," Feil said. "It's good that they are bringing it to the attention of the Lehigh community in a more public way."

The flash mob event was organized as a requirement for the new Women's Studies class "Sexual Violence," that is taught by Michelle Issadore, the assistant director of the Women's Center.

"I intended for the class to be a way to talk about sexual violence in an academic setting," Issadore said. "I saw the need for it, and wanted to address that."

The class is offered as an introduction to the Women's Studies program, and it is also a writing intensive optional course. The course addresses a variety of issues, including sexual violence as a gender crime, the media's portrayal of sexual violence, rape culture, rape drugs, rape trauma syndrome, domestic violence, stalking and harassment.

The members of the class were prompted to organize an event in order to promote awareness of sexual violence and chose to do a flash mob because it seemed like it might have a bigger impact on the community.

"We were given an assignment to create an activism project, and we had over 50 volunteers help," Mike Doherty, '10, said.

The group decided a flash mob would be the most effective way to raise awareness.

"It's more of a surprise thing," Bialick said.

"It's to promote awareness because people don't know about it, especially at Lehigh," Mason said.

Issadore said the students were very enthusiastic about the project.

"The students really wanted to raise awareness at Lehigh, make it educational and make an impact," Issadore said.

The students who acted in the flash mob were all wearing shirts that had statistics and other facts about sexual violence. During the flash mob, many students got up to walk around and read the words on the shirts.

"We wore the shirts we made to increase awareness," Katie Johnston, '12, said. "People heard about it and could see it too. We want to start these discussions about sexual violence because it doesn't get discussed, and it needs to."

The students who took part in the flash mob were from more than 10 different student groups and organizations, including the women's rugby team, Theta Chi fraternity, the Panhellenic Council, Break the Silence, Pi Beta Phi sorority and the Association of Student Alumni.

In order to keep the event's details low-key, the original eight members recruited people from their own social groups, amounting to over 55 participants.

"The whole point is to promote awareness of sexual violence, and not just at Lehigh, but all over the world," Bialick said.

When I saw this article, I couldn't help but think what would happen if every school across the nation took 90 seconds to raise awareness? So many people could be touched and inspired by Lehigh Univeristy's example. This event is such a great example that sexual assault awareness evens do not have to take a lot of time, and you do not even have to invite people ot attend. So step outside the box, and make a difference!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mother Charged with Human Trafficking

Wow. Such a sad story. I know this is a little bit outside the realm of GASA, but it is important to remember that all of these issues are connected and feed into one culture and society.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Article Responses

The GASA website is finally being updated! We will now be posting the thought provoking, commentary worthy sexual assault related articles we come across here! Stay tuned...

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Women at Risk"

August 8, 2009, New York Times

Op-Ed Columnist

Women at Risk


“I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne — yet 30 million women rejected me,” wrote George Sodini in a blog that he kept while preparing for this week’s shooting in a Pennsylvania gym in which he killed three women, wounded nine others and then killed himself.

We’ve seen this tragic ritual so often that it has the feel of a formula. A guy is filled with a seething rage toward women and has easy access to guns. The result: mass slaughter.Back in the fall of 2006, a fiend invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five. I wrote, at the time, that there would have been thunderous outrage if someone had separated potential victims by race or religion and then shot, say, only the blacks, or only the whites, or only the Jews. But if you shoot only the girls or only the women — not so much of an uproar.

According to police accounts, Sodini walked into a dance-aerobics class of about 30 women who were being led by a pregnant instructor. He turned out the lights and opened fire. The instructor was among the wounded. We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected. We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.The mainstream culture is filled with the most gruesome forms of misogyny, and pornography is now a multibillion-dollar industry — much of it controlled by mainstream U.S. corporations. One of the striking things about mass killings in the U.S. is how consistently we find that the killers were riddled with shame and sexual humiliation, which they inevitably blamed on women and girls.

The answer to their feelings of inadequacy was to get their hands on a gun (or guns) and begin blowing people away.What was unusual about Sodini was how explicit he was in his blog about his personal shame and his hatred of women. “Why do this?” he asked. “To young girls? Just read below.” In his gruesome, monthslong rant, he managed to say, among other things: “It seems many teenage girls have sex frequently. One 16 year old does it usually three times a day with her boyfriend. So, err, after a month of that, this little [expletive] has had more sex than ME in my LIFE, and I am 48.

One more reason.”I was reminded of the Virginia Tech gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people in a rampage at the university in 2007. While Cho shot males as well as females, he was reported to have previously stalked female classmates and to have leaned under tables to take inappropriate photos of women. A former roommate said Cho once claimed to have seen “promiscuity” when he looked into the eyes of a woman on campus.Soon after the Virginia Tech slayings, I interviewed Dr. James Gilligan, who spent many years studying violence as a prison psychiatrist in Massachusetts and as a professor at Harvard and N.Y.U. “What I’ve concluded from decades of working with murderers and rapists and every kind of violent criminal,” he said, “is that an underlying factor that is virtually always present to one degree or another is a feeling that one has to prove one’s manhood, and that the way to do that, to gain the respect that has been lost, is to commit a violent act.”

Life in the United States is mind-bogglingly violent. But we should take particular notice of the staggering amounts of violence brought down on the nation’s women and girls each and every day for no other reason than who they are. They are attacked because they are female. A girl or woman somewhere in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every couple of minutes or so. The number of seriously battered wives and girlfriends is far beyond the ability of any agency to count.There were so many sexual attacks against women in the armed forces that the Defense Department had to revise its entire approach to the problem.We would become much more sane, much healthier, as a society if we could bring ourselves to acknowledge that misogyny is a serious and pervasive problem, and that the twisted way so many men feel about women, combined with the absurdly easy availability of guns, is a toxic mix of the most tragic proportions.

"Is Rape Serious?"

Check out this New York Times article on the back-up of rape kits in Los Angeles County:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Audio Files

I found the most difficult part of this whole process was posting the finished audio files on my blog. But through using FileQube as the third party source, I have been able to obtain individual URLs for each file. After editing each post for a while now, I think it will now be clear to visitors what they need to click to access each individual file.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Using Podcasts in the Future

After this class, I know that I will definitely use both audio and video podcasts in the future. I have never had a class that uses them before, and I had never thought about creating and using them myself before. With such a technologically savvy, busy culture it makes sense that we should covert the way we educate people into video and audio files that can be watched and listened to on the go.

Posting Files

I am still having trouble posting my audio podcast files to this blog. I have been able to upload them to a free third party server, but from there I have not yet been able to get them on this site. Fortunately, it looks like posting the video podcast files will be much easier to post because appears to have a video posting option on the blog posting page.

Editing Videos

Editing the videos in IMovie is not as clear and straightforward as editing the audio podcast footage in GarageBand. I ended up filming my video clips using the built in ISight camera on my Mac. This allowed for immediate compatibility with IMovie so I did not have to worry about converting files before editing. IMovie automatically breaks the film into shorter clips to make editing easier, however, I still think that one take shots flow together better than piecing different things together.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ending with Support

One of my favorite parts about creating the video podcasts was the ending credit reel. While most of the information was incredibly basic on that final slide, I felt very strongly about having the last thing my users see be the web address for my blog. After watching a short video podcast that takes the form of a public service announcement about what can often be a difficult and emotional topic, I wanted to be sure to leave the students with a place where they can go to get more information and support.

Musical Consistency

I decided to use the same opening and closing music in my video podcasts that I used in my audio podcasts. Dealing with such a difficult and personal topic as sexual assault, I wanted to select a serious music clip to set the tone. When creating a new website or organization I think it is crucial for the user to be able to recognize consistency. With three audio podcasts and three video podcasts, I wanted something to connect them all together besides the content and website themselves. After sharing my completed audio podcasts, and the initial drafts of my video podcasts, the viewers agreed that the music helped tie everything together while also setting the tone.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Piecing Together Footage

As I continue to work on my video podcasts I am realizing that I prefer one-take shots. Although I know that IMovie and GarageBand have editing capabilities that allow me to piece together various video and audio clips to get the perfect final clip, I have discovered that there is a difference in the end. I like getting everything I want in one shot, and I think it comes across as more natural than piecing together different shots using a technological tool.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Writing Video Podcast Scripts

As I continue to work on my scripts I am having to think about a lot more things than I did with the audio podcasts. With the audio podcasts my primary concern was the information being conveyed. I was less concerned about voice inflection or music because I felt like both of those pieces fell into place by the time I was finished recording and editing. However, with the video podcasts, although my primary concern is still the material being conveyed, I am now also thinking about the people who are going to be in my video, what they will be wearing, where I am going to film it, etc. And what each of these components will portray to my audience.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Video Podcast Idea

For my video podcasts I have decided to film them like public service announcements. I think it is really important to hold your users attentions just long enough to get your point across. With public service announcements, the creator is able to draw the user in with a brief scene and then follow up that scene with important information and a resource or two. Specifically with my topics, sexual assault and relationship violence, it should be fairly easy to come up with creative scenes to attract teenage attention, but I need to make sure that I effectively communicate the importance of the message I am communicating, and the resources available to them.

Image courtesy of

Monday, April 13, 2009

Podcast Website Evaluation

For my podcast website evaluation I looked at the American Civil Liberties Union section on Title IX to address sexual assault. I really like how this website has a summary associated with each podcast. For the users this allows ease in deciding whether or not the podcast is of interest to them. There is a related links section on the right side of the screen that suggests other pieces of the site users might be interested in. I really think video podcasts would enhance this website a lot. Overall, I think this website does a great job informing its users about the process for addressing sexual assaults.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Voice Recordings...

I was able to start recording my audio podcasts today. At first I struggled with the actual recording of my voice in GarageBand. Wanting everything to sound perfect, I found myself tempted to constantly re-record everything I said. However, I discovered that within GarageBand you have the ability to delete certain pieces of your voice recording, and then you can re-record that section so it sounds just the way you want it to. This trick turned out to be a real time saver!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Getting Started

Today we started working with GarageBand and other podcasting programs. Having no previous experience working with any of these programs, I think it will take me a week or so to feel comfortable using these programs for our class assignments. GarageBand provides its users with various jingles and music clips, free of copyright issues, to include in their podcasts. I think this feature will be incredibly helpful with my introduction and closing music sounds.