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.