Already Registered? Please Login

User Name: 
Remember Me:
Please Note: The "Remember Me" option is not recommended for use with shared computers.

New to the Website?

Register Here: Collegians or Alumnae

Home > What's New > Blogs > Fraternity Blog

Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Friday, September 18, 2015 08:11 AM, by Leslie Fasone
Sexual violence is nearing epidemic status; it's estimated that one in five college women will experience sexual assault during her undergraduate experience. To work toward stopping it, we must consider tactics to change the culture. Not only what should we not do (like unintentionally blame victims or focus all of our attention on ways to "stay safe"), we need to consider what it is that we can do to create a culture that supports survivors and challenges perpetrators.

Here are some tangible steps you can take to overcome myths that support and reinforce rape-supportive culture:

  • When your friends or organization is planning an event with a theme that is discriminatory toward women or a culture, or simply put, is negative toward women, come up with an alternate (yet fun!) idea that is appropriate. You can address this issue head on, but also come up with a more creative theme that builds others up instead of putting others down.

  • When you hear someone make a comment such as "Well, she was really drunk," or "She hooks up with people all the time," challenge those comments. You can say something like, "Being drunk does not give someone permission to touch you without your consent," or "She/he can choose to hook up consensually however often s/he wants, but consent must always be present during sexual activity."

  • Place posters and information about sexual assault around your living area. Include information about campus and community resources available to students, where to go for help or how to report an incident, and upcoming events for students to get involved in prevention efforts. Sharing information and resources helps raise awareness and also connects students with resources.

We encourage you to pay close attention to the environment around you. How does that environment promote an unsafe environment or a rape-supportive culture? What can you do to create a place where sexual assault is not ok, or where sexual assault survivors are not blamed at all? It is never someone's fault for being assaulted. It is the fault of the perpetrator and the individuals helping to facilitate the assault. Help us change the culture with everyday tangible actions and by getting involved in prevention efforts to create a movement supporting women, and challenging the current culture in which we live.

Leslie Fasone, Beta/Indiana, is Indiana University’s assistant dean for women's and gender affairs and a doctoral candidate in Health Behavior.

Posted On: Monday, September 14, 2015 08:22 AM, by Ellen Barlow
It's hard to believe that we're just over a month away from Theta's Day of Service 2015!

We've put together a list of ideas for planning your project, which can be found on the Day of Service - Plan page. Please review this list for inspiration in the planning process. We hope Thetas will actively engage in service, not philanthropy, on October 19. We encourage collegians and alumnae to focus on direct or indirect service at local organizations in their communities instead of focusing on donation drives (i.e. blood, clothing, or food drives). We hope that when selecting a project or organization with which to volunteer, members think about how that organization's purpose aligns with Theta's mission, vision, and values.

How do I do this?

Here are some suggestions:

  • It's important to first identify your objectives. Determine what's important to you and your college or alumnae chapter (or group of Thetas getting together for the day). If you involve more voices in the planning process, women will likely be more excited about the project.

  • It's also important to be realistic. How many people do you expect to participate? How does October 19 falling on a Monday impact alumnae participation, and would alumnae be better off planning something for the weekend before?

  • It's also important to choose a project (or projects) in which women will be interested in participating. If you will be have multiple sites available, try to choose a range of social issues on which to focus (i.e., animals, arts and culture, children and youth, poverty and homelessness), so that women have options from which to choose that match their particular interests.

  • In order to avoid re-inventing the wheel, work with campus and community organizations to identify existing agencies and projects that are already in place. For college women, this means connecting with your campus community service learning or volunteer services office, as well as finding service organizations on campus to partner with, such as Circle K or Alpha Phi Omega. For alumnae, this means working with an organization with which you might already have a relationship, or somewhere a member already volunteers her time. Because service is a top priority for the people who work in or are members of these offices and organizations, their training and education is built around that conviction, and your project will ultimately be more successful and more meaningful.

  • Participants should understand what will be expected of them on the day of the project. If the organization with which you are working requires training prior, be sure to advertise that to participants and make sure the training is easily accessible. If participants are not familiar with the organization, it's important to educate them on their mission and work prior to the day of the event.

  • Additionally, be certain that the projects selected are inclusive. Ask the organization you're working with if it is ADA accessible to ensure that anyone who wishes to participate can.

What happens afterward?

Allowing participants to reflect on their experiences is a crucial part of a meaningful service project. Be sure to plan reflection activities ahead of time. A list of reflection questions and activities can be found on this page. You can also check with your campus community service office or run a quick Google search for community reflection activities for reflection ideas and further learning.

The bottom line is to find a project that you and your Theta sisters are passionate about and dive in headfirst, thinking critically about the people and organization you are serving. By doing so, you will learn, bridge gaps across differences, and contribute to the building of community. You won't regret it!

Ellen Barlow is an assistant director of education and leadership for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Friday, September 11, 2015 01:51 PM, by Melissa Shaub
Sexual violence, like many other issues, is complex and layered. It is difficult to express everything you want to say about a particular topic through short social media posts—hence our blog series. Over the past several weeks we have been posting resources and information as a part of a larger campaign to end sexual violence. In addition to sharing resources and statistics, it was important to me to discuss sexual violence in the context of rape-supportive culture.

It can be challenging and alarming to hear a term like "rape-supportive culture." The term seems to imply that a culture would openly encourage rape and sexual violence. Instead, the term describes how myths about rape and sexual violence become the way we collectively think about rape as a society. Those of us in the society are complicit in continuing to unintentionally reinforce those myths (Although there are likely some people doing so intentionally). Until I began researching this topic a number of years ago, I realized I had been (unintentionally) reinforcing several myths about sexual violence.

Here are some examples of myths that support and reinforce rape-supportive culture.
  • Assuming that false reports of sexual violence occur more frequently than other crimes. In fact, false reports make up two to eight percent of rape reports,. This is consistent with, and in some cases lower than, other crimes.
  • Victim-blaming. For example, asking survivors, "What were you wearing?" "Were you flirting?" or "Were you drinking?" implying that the victim was responsible in some way.
  • Focusing on what the victim should or should not have done to prevent the assault, instead of focusing the responsibility on the person that chose to commit a crime of interpersonal violence.
  • Telling friends to not walk home alone, when in reality more than 80 percent of assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim.
  • Believing interpersonal violence is a women's issue, when it affects all genders: men, women, and transgender individuals. Only the perpetrator of sexual assault can stop the crime, which is another reason to end the myth of this as a women's issue.

In what ways are we perpetuating some of these myths? Are we co-sponsoring events with themes that objectify or sexualize a particular group of people, like women? Is our educational programming focusing only on what a victim should/should not do to prevent an assault?

Part 2, which will be posted next week, will explore strategies for overcoming these myths.

Melissa Shaub, Alpha Sigma/Washington State, is the director of education & leadership at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Thursday, September 10, 2015 08:20 AM, by Kristin Allen Armstrong
Kristin Armstrong
By now you have likely heard of the high-profile initiative To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), a suicide prevention effort that also aims to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health services. During 2015's National Suicide Prevention Week, September 7 - 13, and today on World Suicide Prevention Day, the organization will be promoting this year's theme of "We'll see you tomorrow". Kappa Alpha Theta and the Sisters Supporting Sisters mental health initiative have chosen to lend support to this cause by encouraging college chapters to engage their members in discussions surrounding mental health, hosting events on campus, distributing educational materials, or otherwise promoting the destigmatization of mental health and the importance of suicide prevention efforts. Across the continent, chapters are engaging in meaningful outreach, but individual members might wonder how to contribute to this important mission on a daily basis.

One answer is surprisingly simple: Be there.

A sense of isolation is a risk factor for suicide, and research has shown a strong correlation between social support and decreased likelihood of a lifetime suicide attempt. By living the motto We'll see you tomorrow through lending a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, an empathetic word, or a gesture of support, you are participating in truly meaningful prevention and acting as a part of our mission for the widest influence for good. You're showing those you care about that their presence is valued, their daily struggles are understood, that there is hope for better days ahead, and that you want to share in their story. It sounds a lot like true sisterhood, doesn't it?

Our fraternity was founded on the effort to develop sisterhood and meaningful social support during a time when women were a minority on college campuses and faced discrimination and a distinct lack of support from their male peers and often their academic institutions. Our founders used the bonds of Theta to disempower their loneliness, and we can do the same, not through sisterhood in the colloquial sense—although engaging in new, exciting experiences and creating fun memories also has its place here—but by nurturing the lifelong friendships we have developed with women we know we can count on. For Theta women, We'll see you tomorrow means living our values.

While our bond can be an important contributor to prevention, it is not enough to prevent suicide in the demanding college environment. It does, however, mean that we are often the first to notice when one of our sisters is struggling. If you believe that you or someone you know is facing depression or thoughts of suicide, please visit the Sisters Supporting Sisters website for the resource and webinar on Depression & Suicide Awareness. You can also call the free Talk One-2-One hotline, open 24 hours a day, to speak with a trained counselor about any problem large or small, at 1-800-756-3124.

To become involved with TWLOHA or to learn how you can promote suicide prevention through social media, please visit the TWLOHA website.

And to our Kappa Alpha Theta sisters: You are appreciated, you are loved, and you are a meaningful contribution to the identity of our proud fraternity. To each of you on campuses everywhere, We'll see you tomorrow.

Kristin Allen Armstrong, MSSW, LSW, Nu/Hanover, is Nu’s recruitment and Panhellenic advisor, and Sisters Supporting Sisters advisory board member. She is a counselor for Childplace, Inc. in Jeffersonville, Ind.

Posted On: Friday, September 4, 2015 03:50 PM, by Melissa Shaub
I believe you. I'm sorry this happened to you. You are not alone. This does not change the way I feel about you.

Sexual violence is a crime that strips victims of their dignity and control. Estimates across North America suggest that 80% (that's four out of five) assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Trust and personal safety will likely never be concepts that are the same ever again for a survivor. Recently, a survivor described her experience of recovering from rape as "a life sentence."

Survivor support is typically impacted by the many myths surrounding rape and sexual violence (we will talk more about that next week). It is important to know there is not a "right" or "wrong" way for a survivor to respond to assault. If a friend discloses that she has been assaulted, research tells us to respond without blaming the victim. Generally speaking, victim blaming occurs when anyone makes comments implying the victim is responsible for the crime(s) committed against them. Examples of such responses regarding sexual violence could include, "What were you wearing?" "Were you drinking?" or "It was probably a misunderstanding."

So, what can and should you do? At the start of this blog, phrases were mentioned that are good examples of things you might say if a survivor discloses an assault. While there are many resources describing responses and ways to be supportive, it is important to remember two things:

  • Listen and believe. If a friend is telling you about an experience, it is important to suspend judgement. Listen to that story without interruption, and offer supportive comments (see above), such as "I believe you" and "I'm sorry this happened to you."

  • Provide options and not advice. Hearing your friend has been hurt in such a violent way is disturbing and scary. Most of us are not professional counselors, and we don't need to be in order to provide support. Keep in mind it is important for survivors to have the autonomy to make their own decisions. As a friend, you can present available options and offer support if and when (if) your friend choses to access those options.

Providing a supportive reaction is not easy, but it can make a huge difference for the survivor. To learn more about what you could say and options to provide, visit these resources:

Given the nature of this crime, we recognize that survivors of sexual violence can be triggered by awareness campaigns. We want survivors (and friends supporting survivors) to know that many resources exist if you need to talk to someone. Visiting your campus counseling center can not only connect you to a campus counselor but also other campus resources that are available to you, including support groups and hotlines. Theta also offers a free hotline number (Talk One-2-One) that will connect you to a licensed counselor. Visit our Sisters Supporting Sisters page for more resources. There is no time table when recovering from sexual violence, and support is available.

Melissa Shaub, Alpha Sigma/Washington State, is the director of education & leadership at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Monday, August 31, 2015 07:50 AM, by Ellen Barlow
Next in the Day of Service blog series, we discuss why service is important, how it's connected to Theta's values, and how service is a vital part of leadership and being a leading woman.

Why is service important?

Service is a critical component of community-building and helping to shape active, civically-engaged citizens. Serving helps us to "develop a meaningful philosophy of life, promote understanding across differences, and contribute to a more just, caring, thriving world"—to borrow a phrase from our friends at LeaderShape. Service learning is a piece of this, the purpose of which is to engage people in experiences that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities for reflection intentionally designed to promote learning.

Kappa Alpha Theta cares about service.

There are many different models of leadership, particularly one that enables the development of leadership qualities in all participants (known as the Social Change Model of Leadership) and another that enables someone to be a servant leader (i.e., Servant Leadership).

The assumptions of the Social Change Model of Leadership are as follows:

  • Leadership is socially-responsible; it impacts change on behalf of others.

  • Leadership is collaborative.

  • Leadership is process not a position.

  • Leadership is inclusive and accessible to all people.

  • Leadership is values-based.

Community-involvement/service is a powerful vehicle for leadership. Community service can help us be better leaders because it enables us to think about others who may be different from us, to be active participants in the communities in which we live, and to move from a sense of individualism to a sense of shared purpose.

What then is "servant leadership"? Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term in 1970, saying, "The servant leader is servant begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead." (Read more on the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership website). This is the kind of leadership we should be aiming for. The kind that listens, empathizes, heals, is aware, persuades, conceptualizes, has foresight, practices good stewardship, is committed to the growth of people, and builds community.

Leading women serve.

As Thetas, we are called to be leading women, and according to Article I, Section 2 of the Fraternity's Constitution and Bylaws, "The social aim of the Fraternity shall be to exercise the widest influence for good." Think about how powerful that is. Part of the Fraternity's purpose—its why, its heartbeat—is to exercise the widest influence for good. It is written into the document that allows us to exist as an organization.

Learn more about Theta's Day of Service.

Ellen Barlow is an assistant director of education and leadership for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

<< View Older Entries     View Newer Entries >>