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Wingman program aimed at getting men involved with sexual assault prevention

By Alex Paul
On March 12, 2013

DePauw students report sexual assaults at a higher rate than other college campuses according to Public Safety's annual report.
The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as "any type of sexual conduct or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient."
Indiana University, with an enrollment of 42,081, reported 28 cases of sexual violence in 2011, while DePauw with an enrollment of 2,353 reported 13. Wittenberg University, a school similar to DePauw, reported two sexual assaults in 2010, the most recent data. According to New York University Student Health Center less than five percent of assaults get reported.
"I think our numbers are higher because we push to ask students to report and because we have really amazing resources to assist students," said Angela Nally, director of Public Safety.
Initiatives like Code TEAL and the Wingman program give students a support group to talk about tough issues. The Wingman program gets males talking about how to help out friends who are potentially in a dangerous situation.
According to DePauw's annual Public Safety Report sexual violence numbers have increased the past three years: eight reported in 2009, ten in 2010, and 13 in 2011. Of the 13 reports in 2011, ten happened in campus living units.
Programs spreading awareness help people to know they are not alone. According to New York University Student Health Center, one in five college women reported being raped.
DePauw received a grant from the justice department for $300,000 two and a half years ago to help spread awareness and reduce sexual violence. The money was used to fund different programs on campus spreading awareness and support for sexual assault.
In the past Sarah Ryan, director of the Women's Center, said there was an unwritten rule to not report a sexual assault to protect a certain house or individual reputation. But she did not believe that greek life was entirely at fault.
"Greek life is not root of this problem," Ryan said. "But there are things they can do to decrease the rape culture."
Ryan said women from 18-22 feel pressure to engage in sexual activities, and it happens in more places than just the fraternities.
Through the Wingman program each fraternity received a specialized poster reminding them of the dangers of sexual assault and the need for a "wingmen," a term usually used to describe someone who is the lookout for their friend.
"Only a few chapters have the posters up," Walker Chance, a junior member of Code TEAL, said. "But at least Panhellenic knows. They can fire up the conversation asking where the posters are."
Ryan said she felt the Wingman program was important to get males talking about the issue.
"Sexual violence is labeled as a women's issue," Ryan said. "It's a male issue too. Men need to get involved."
PJ Mitchell, a greek life coordinator, spoke recently at an hour and a half training session for the Wingman program. Ryan said it was important to have men talk to men about the issue.
"Unfortunately a man has to step up because women are not being heard in the same way," Ryan said.
The Wellness Center has sexual assault trained nurse examiners (SANE) who deal with on campus cases. Jessica McCrea, a SANE trained nurse, said students who go to the Wellness Center do not have to participate in the collection of evidence, and can remain anonymous in the reporting.
"It's all up to their discretion, and they can say no whenever," McCrea said.
Having resources available for victims of sexual assault is important. Often, they are not always ready to come forward and talk about their experience.
"It's important not to push a survivor to do something she or he doesn't want to do," Ryan said.
Conversations around campus help, but the problem of sexual assault is not likely to be solved in the near future without some serious campus climate adjustments.
"We can have a more informed campus," Ryan said. 'We need to address harassment, the party culture, the flower-in culture."
 


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