USC club offers preventative sexual assault workshops to student organizations

After more than one year of remote learning and social distancing, sexual assault at USC could become even more prevalent as students celebrate their return to campus.

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TW: The following story includes mentions of sexual assault.

According to the Los Angeles Times, 1 in 3 female undergraduates at USC said they were sexually assaulted, compared to the national average of 1 in 4.

On Sept. 27, fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, collaborated with USC Flow, an intersectional feminist organization, to educate their members on sexual assault prevention.

USC requires online training about sexual misconduct for all incoming students. Additionally, they require mandatory prevention education for each of the five fraternity and sorority communities that includes prevention education on sexual misconduct, hazing, alcohol, drugs, mental health and bystander intervention. Chapters are required to host or attend presentations on at least three topics over a calendar year.

Because Zeta Beta Tau completed its mandatory training last year, they were not required to sign up for any this semester. ZBT President Wyatt Gill wanted to find a way to continue the trainings in the fall.

“I was like, that’s not right,” Gill said in an interview with Annenberg Media. “We should do something this year, this semester — if not both semesters — to make sure that people are actually getting that education, especially with the new guys who haven’t had that mandatory training already.”

Gill’s solution was to reach out to Natalia Parraz, the president of Flow, to request a workshop on sexual assault prevention, the culture around sexual assault at USC and tools to support survivors.

Parraz was enthusiastic when she heard about Gill’s interest and saw it as an opportunity to expand their reach.

“I would love to meet with the other fraternities and see what we can do to try and stop a culture that’s promoting sexual assault,” Parraz said.

The presentation was held at the ZBT house with around 50 members in attendance. After sharing the high rate of sexual assault at USC, Parraz asked the audience if they believed that the actual number is higher or lower than reported.

Members of ZBT unanimously said higher, attributing the discrepancy to lack of education, negative stigmas surrounding sexual assault, victim-blaming and lack of access to resources.

Flow also discussed how due to the pandemic, the environment on campus this year in particular may induce a rise in incidences of sexual assault. This fall, schools across the country are welcoming not only a new class of freshman to campus, but also sophomores who were previously learning remotely because of the pandemic. According to Forbes, it is unlikely either class of students will have had comprehensive sexual assault prevention education before they arrived to campus.

Educational workshops are not going to completely solve the problem of sexual assault at USC, according to Parraz. However, she believes they are a crucial step towards raising awareness about sexual assault and changing the culture around it, especially for the USC community.

Parraz recommended members download Callisto, an app in partnership with Flow that anonymously connects sexual survivors harmed by the same perpetrator and provides legal counsel.

With this workshop, Gill hopes to start the conversation and provide resources for members of ZBT.

“I know a lot of guys personally have sisters and friends who are survivors who are dealing with this stuff every day on our campus. And so this is just kind of a way for them to help out others and help themselves as well,” Gill said.

Notably, survivors are not just women. Though women are at an elevated risk of sexual assault on college campuses, male college students are 78% more likely than non-students to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.

“The presentation was super informative, especially seeing the startling statistics about sexual assaults on campus and in particular at USC’s campus,” said Enzo Coglitore, a junior and ZBT member. “I think we can all do a better job at knowing what resources are available for any gender, male, female or nonbinary, and what our options are if an incident like this does occur.”