More and more, the conversation around sexual assault and domestic violence is emphasizing the need to educate and prevent.
The White House, in partnership with Generation Progress, recently launched the It’s On Us campaign. This is an initiative that asks others, especially men, to take a pledge and vouch to accept that no means no, and that it’s a bystander’s duty to intervene as a witness to a potential assault.
Matthew Leibowitz, Founder of Consent is So Frat and a member of the Wesleyan University Class of 2014, is looking to change the landscape of how sexual assault is approached within the Greek community.
Leibowitz told USA Today College, “When I was a senior at Wesleyan University, the campus was in the process of debating about Greek life in relation to sexual assault. As a fraternity brother who had previously been involved with leading discussions around consent in the Greek community, I noticed a large issue in the conversations on campus: fraternity brothers were being introduced to the idea of consent as its inevitable enemy.”
Statistics show that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted during their time in college, and many alleged cases of campus sexual assault are said to involve members of fraternities. In many cases, victim blaming and fear of isolation lead to alleged victims not reporting their assault.
“Consent is So Frat is a beginning of the discussion,” Leibowitz said. “It brings the fraternities on a campus together in recognizing their need to promote consent in their organizations and greater communities, but it also introduces to the campus the idea of fraternities being allies in ending sexual assault.”
Attempting to reframe consent as a positive, rather than a negative, has recently become mainstream. In a New York Times opinion piece, Gloria Steinem highlighted how consent should be seen as attractive, and the state of California has drawn a clear line on the importance of “yes means yes.”
Consent is So Frat, which equates the phrase “so frat” with “cool,” hopes to raise awareness of the importance of consent by encouraging members of fraternities to take pictures with a sign lending their support to the cause.
“We want to promote the idea that consent is cool for a fraternity brother,” said Leibowitz. And, by making it cool, the hope would be that it also becomes the norm.