SALT LAKE CITY -- Fraternities are usually faced with criticism when it comes to campus sexual assaults, but one at the University of Utah is receiving praise for their efforts to stop it.
“I think it’s really incumbent upon men--specifically young, college, millennial age men--to step forth and lead out on this issue,” said Mitchell Cox, president of Beta Theta Pi.
For the last year, Cox and his fraternity brothers have been sponsoring forums and events around campus to start a dialogue about campus rape. Because of the reception to their work, they recently earned a $3,300 grant from the Robin McGraw Revelation Foundation to continue focusing on the issue.
“Unfortunately, statistically, 9 out of 10 of the victims of sexual assault are women, and the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men,” Cox said. “And I think for a really long time the issue of sexual assault has lacked male leadership.”
According to crime data from the University of Utah, there were 7 reported cases of sexual assault in 2012. In 2013, that number jumped to 16.
“The truth of the matter is we have too many people who commit rapes and most of them are men, sad to say. We don’t beat up on men around here, but we also believe that they need to step up and take some responsibility for this,” said Holly Mullen, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City.
The facility began working with Cox and his brothers last year, after an alumnus put them in touch. According to Mullen, bringing the voice of men to the conversation has been impactful on the campus.
“It’s absolutely significant,” Mullen said. “They’re saying, ‘We as males have a responsibility to respect, in this particular case, women, to respect boundaries, to understand what consent means.’”
The fraternity plans to use the grant money to host more events over the next year. In January, they’re planning a forum in conjunction with the Hinckley Institute of Politics to address campus and state policies on sexual assault.
“We are able as a fraternity to hold men accountable,” Cox said. "And more importantly, to hold college men accountable in a time on our life that is so influential and change based.”