Both Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon fraternities have begun pledge training workshops in order to introduce new pledges to party culture and the place of fraternities at the college.
The new program is designed to allot times for structured discussion between older fraternity members and new pledges. Outlined beforehand by fraternity leaders, discussion will cover how parties function at the college and what that means for fraternities.
“We will talk about privilege, how it manifests at Swarthmore, what we can do to make the house safe for brothers and guests,” Callen Rain ’15, a facilitator for the program, said. “We will also discuss an awareness of the power dynamics that exist, especially in parties, among Swarthmore students, and how that power dynamic can be amplified for the hosts of parties. Lastly, we plan to talk about hookup culture at the school.”
Last spring, Eve Dimagno ’15 proposed the idea of finding a way to teach new pledges about they should expect as fraternity members at the college. The new orientation workshops were generated as a response to this, with the curriculum designed by fraternity leaders and student facilitators.
According to Rain, “This is just a start to talking about these issues. These workshops are not supposed to be the perfect solution to any issue, but working through this [any issues surrounding college fraternities and their place in party culture] requires dialogue and this is an attempt at starting that with our members who might not have experiences talking about these ideas.”
The workshops come just after Jackson Katz, an American anti-sexism author, filmmaker, and activist, visited the college last week to discuss issues of sexual misconduct. While they are partly inspired by Katz’s material, his Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program–a program designed to redirect focus on issues of sexual misconduct to the role of bystanders and other community members–will not be used exclusively.
“We haven’t exactly decided on which Bystander Intervention program to use for the campus community,” said Lili Rodriguez, dean of diversity, inclusion, and community development. “Athletics will be work-shopping one from the NCAA [National College Athletic Association] this spring with SAAC [the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at the college]. This year, we’ll be reviewing Jackson Katz’ MVP bystander program, Sue Rankin’s Bystander Program, a workshop designed by GreenDot, and the NCAA’s. We’ll be pilot testing a few with different groups throughout the year and deciding on one for future use.”
The GreenDot program, designed for as a means for violence prevention, emphasize the role of bystanders in maintaining a cultural atmosphere that does not promote sexual violence. Sue Rankin Ph.d, a professor at Pennsylvania State University who recently completed a study investigating violence toward the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community at universities, has a program focused on issues of violence and bullying. The NCAA currently uses several different sexual misconduct prevention programs, including the GreenDot program.
The new college program here, however, is not a response to the recent controversy over the Phi Psi bids. The bids, which featured background set with small prints of naked and partially naked women, are only incidental in timing.
“I want to make clear that these workshops were not a response to the recent controversy — we started working on putting them together last spring” Jason Hua, a leader in Phi Psi who is heavily involved in the new pledge workshops, said.
“That said, for the pledges to understand why a large portion of campus was upset with the bids is definitely important, though it is not a focal point of the workshops. The workshops are in keeping with one of our main goals — to make Phi Psi as safe a space as possible for anyone and everyone who walks through the door.”