Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault.
At the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month April 1, Boston University’s chapter of the It’s On Us organization — an on-campus group that provides support for those who have experienced sexual assault — launched a fundraising campaign, partnering with Student Government and Greek life organizations on campus, to raise money for RAINN.
RAINN — the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network — is the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the United States, according to their website.
“We decided on RAINN because they’ve been such a big help to us,” said Kristen Schallert, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and BU’s IOU co-founder and vice president. “They’re the largest nonprofit in the nation who helps survivors. They’re amazing. They have a great crisis line.”
Schallert said her goal as the group’s co-founder was to provide others with resources she never received.
The idea for the fundraiser began during the Fall semester, Schallert said, but ultimately IOU and StuGov decided not to start the project because it would be “too last-minute.”
“We spent a long time brainstorming for this,” Schallert said, “and then we ended up reaching out to Greek Life as well to pull them into the fundraiser.”
IOU held a seminar in March in which “the vast majority” of students involved with Greek Life attended, Schallert said. In the seminar, IOU gave training for bystander intervention and explanations of what consent is.
“We’re really trying to change that culture in Greek Life,” Schallert said.
Student Body President Oliver Pour, a junior in the College of Communication and president of the InterFraternity Council, said StuGov partnered with IOU in the hope of involving more students with their campaign.
“We had great success with fundraisers in the past,” Pour said, “and we believe that the more organizations that are in and the more people that are involved in these organizations and these fundraisers … the further it can go, and the more people it could reach.”
Including Greek Life organizations in IOU’s campaign raises more awareness for the issue, Pour said.
“Greek life should be in these conversations,” Pour said, “every single time.”
Nell Curtin, a junior in the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, is a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority and vice president of leadership and chapter development on the Panhellenic Council at BU.
Curtin said BU Greek Life organizations took note of Instagram posts from @campus.survivors, an account she said has shared stories of people who have experienced sexual misconduct, assault and violence from fraternity members.
“Greek life is a huge influence of rape culture,” Curtin said.
Curtin said the Panhellenic Council has been working with the InterFraternity Council to increase the membership of a committee for sexual assault prevention in Greek Life.
“Right now, our biggest priority is working on curriculum to instigate and make it so people every year have to go through sexual assault prevention training,” Curtin said, “and then also some type of bystander intervention training as well.”
The committee’s goal is to mandate each Greek chapter to send a representative to the trainings, Curtin said.
Curtain said it is “key” to have Greek Life members actively participating in sexual assault prevention.
“There has been such a lack of accountability for fraternities and their involvement in sexual assault and rape culture,” Curtain said.
She said the RAINN fundraiser through Greek organizations and IOU is “a great thing for this great organization,” and added that raising awareness is important as well.
“Just having everybody learn about that organization is a really big deal,” Curtin said.
Greek Life at BU is “really thankful” for the work IOU is doing, she said.
“They’ve just been really great at working with us and super open to it,” Curtin said. “We’re continually thankful for all these organizations that have partnered with us to help make us better people, and better organizations, and safer ones.”
Nikolay Kolev, campus editor, is a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He was not involved in the editing of this article.