SAPAC, Panhellenic Association host second annual Greek life speakout

Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 10:07pm

Panhellenic Peer Educators speak at the Panhellenic Association Greek Life Speak Out, a forum and safe space for survivors of sexual violence, at the Union on Thursday.

Panhellenic Peer Educators speak at the Panhellenic Association Greek Life Speak Out, a forum and safe space for survivors of sexual violence, at the Union on Thursday. Buy this photo
Kevin Zheng/Daily

 

The Panhellenic Association at the University of Michigan partnered with the University’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center to host the second annual Greek Life Speak Out at the Pendleton Room of the Union on Thursday.

In front of a full-capacity audience of about 250 people, survivors of sexual assault came forward to speak about their experiences in an open-forum setting. Women spoke about instances of sexual assault they have experienced within and outside the Greek life system or beyond the University.

Panhellenic peer educators — sorority members trained to assist and support survivors within their sororities — were also on hand, with some sharing their own personal stories.

Due to the confidential nature of the event, the Daily was asked to not record or quote speakers.

Kinesiology junior Cass Bouse-Eaton, co-director of the Panhellenic Peer Educator Program, said she spearheaded the event after being inspired to provide a forum specifically for people in Greek life after attending a SAPAC speak out two years ago.

“I just feel like this was something that wasn’t talked about in Greek life as a whole,” Bouse-Eaton said. “I thought it would be special to have a place where people in Greek life could speak about their experiences, because our experiences are sometimes different.”

Bouse-Eaton said she hopes people will walk away from the event empowered and open to listening and providing support to others.

“People are not always going to show you when they’re hurting,” Bouse-Eaton said. “Be conscious that people might be. If someone does feel comfortable telling you something, you don’t need to do anything other than say: ‘I believe you and whatever you need I am here.’ ”

LSA junior Kelsey Snyder, another PPEP co-director, said bringing awareness to sexual assault on campus is key and it was encouraging to see so many male audience members there in support of the women who spoke.

“You just want people to be more aware of what’s going on,” Snyder said. “It was also really great this year to see so many men involved and present.”

Snyder also said they were providing support for people who needed to debrief after the event and she stressed the importance of building relationships and a supporting community for survivors.

“I think it’s just great to build these relationships with people that you know are going through the same situation,” Snyder said. “Making it more of a community issue, rather than a women’s issue or just in Greek life.”

First lady Sue Snyder of Michigan was in attendance at the event, but declined an interview with the Daily.

At a summit on North Campus last October, Gov. Rick Snyder and Sue Snyder announced the continuation of a state grant towards prevention of sexual assault on college campuses. Last December, the University announced they received about $100,000 of these grants.