Greeks team up to fight sexual assault

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Malayna Hasmanis gives a presentation on current rape culture and victim blaming, entitled Sexual Assault Awareness: Eyes Wide Open in Kirkoffs Pere Marquette room April 3, 2014.

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Malayna Hasmanis gives a presentation on current rape culture and victim blaming, entitled “Sexual Assault Awareness: Eyes Wide Open” in Kirkoff’s Pere Marquette room April 3, 2014.

Maddie Forshee

From documentaries like “The Hunting Ground,” which dives into the world of Greek-related sexual assault on college campuses, to scandals like the one at the University of Virginia, equating the Greek community with sexual assault is a narrative that has been around for a long time.

Members of Grand Valley State University’s Greek community think that stereotype has worn its welcome and have come together to form a new student organization focused on education and creating action.

Greeks Against Sexual Assault is an initiative headed up by the current president of the group, Malayna Hasmanis.

“One of the big things associated with Greek life, specifically fraternities, is sexual assault,” she said. “It’s all you hear about in the media and (that association) is really messed up.”

Hasmanis first heard about the organization at a national conference for Greek women this summer. After returning to campus, she got to work creating GVSU’s own chapter. She enlisted the help of Alex Dudek, a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Life, who has taken on the role of adviser for the group.

“Our thought was to figure out how we can engage as many people as we can,” Dudek said. “We want to get information to them in the most efficient way, and (administration) has been very supportive of that.”

The organization plans to educate students, but will emphasize on training students and giving them the skills that allow them to take action in potential assault situations.

Hasmanis has also been working with Theresa Rowland, GVSU’s Title IX officer, to organize training sessions led by professionals that work with sexual assault victims. The group plans on being involved in sexual assault initiatives on campus in any way possible.

“There’s so much more potential for things that we can do on campus,” Hasmanis said. “Let’s get people thinking, challenge their thought processes. We’re looking to take initiatives to change their behaviors, to really eradicate or decrease rape culture on campus.”

There are other organizations on campus that are dedicated to bringing awareness to sexual assault and forming conversations about it, which is one reason why GASA wants to set itself apart.

“Why GASA is a little different is because it’s not just awareness, it’s action-based,” Hasmanis said. “Let’s not walk around the elephant in the room, let’s talk about it. It’s an uncomfortable topic to talk about, but to me, it’s a need.”

Dudek said that whether there are similar organizations already on campus, getting students involved is never a bad thing.

“It’s not enough for us to not be part of the problem, we need to be part of the solution,” he said.

While membership of Greeks Against Sexual Assault is expected to be Greek only, the organization plans on getting GVSU’s entire student body involved in their workshops and events.

“It’s a really great way to engage a specific population of students,” said Dudek. “As leaders in the Greek community, this is a great way for them to step forward and to really show that.”

The student organization has just become an official registered student organization and is in the process of completing what Hasmanis called the “planning phase.” The executive board of the group has been decided and the organization is working on increasing membership and getting the word out about what they are doing.

GASA will be at Campus Life Night 2.0 in January. For more information, email Malayna Hasmanis at [email protected].