Of all the student group representatives trying to flag down students on the Diag yesterday, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center may have had the right tactic: root-beer pong.
It was part of the group’s efforts to attract more men to participate.
For 20 years, the group has counseled female victims of rape, advised women in abusive relationships and battled sexual violence on campus.
Until 2004, the campaign was run almost entirely by women. Only a handful of men volunteered at the center, and there were no programs devoted to educating men on sexual assault.
SAPAC wants more testosterone.
The Men’s Activism Program held its first open recruitment on the Diag yesterday. Organizers hoped to attract new volunteers to teach other men about sexual assault and to participate in future SAPAC programs.
“We want to reach men with issues of consent and teach them about being a ‘proactive bystander’,” said LSA junior Gerald Gordinier, who coordinated the event. “This is not just an issue for women to solve. Men need to be involved, too.”
SAPAC volunteers set up games of “privilege pong” during the hours of high student traffic between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. yesterday. They hoped to entice passing male students to volunteer at the center, located at 715 N. University.
Throughout the day, about 400 to 500 people stopped by.
“I think the event was very successful and we will do it again on a wider scale next year,” Gordinier said.
Since opening in 1986, SAPAC has grown to provide various free and confidential services such as a 24-hour crisis line, advocacy for survivors of sexual assault, crisis intervention, workshops and training. The organization has recently worked with Men Against Violence Against Women to recruit men. This year, SAPAC hired its first male assistant, Scott Pharp, to oversee male activism.
“No one needs to be a victim of sexual assault,” said LSA senior Jenna Casey, a SAPAC volunteer. “We want to target men to help them be a positive influence against violence.”
Starting off the year recruiting male volunteers will help change the traditional view that men are simply the cause of sexual violence and can’t be part of the solution, organizers said.
“SAPAC isn’t about pointing fingers,” Gordinier said. “Men’s activism takes a stance that men can be a solution to the problem.”