Sexual violence is a major concern on college campuses across the United States. With this in mind, Wash U students and faculty are proactively aiming to prevent occurances of sexual violence and assault on and around our campus. Sophomore Cory Steinberg has launched a new sexual assault task force within Greek life geared towards fraternities in order to promote awareness, education and prevention regarding the issue. As a driven and goal-oriented student who is already very involved with several organizations, Cory is determined to maintain Wash U’s safe and welcoming atmosphere and to keep sexual violence from infiltrating our campus like it has already done to many others. Read on to learn more about this week’s Campus Celeb and what he hopes to accomplish.
Hometown: Weston, CT
Major/Minor: Environmental Policy major, American Culture Studies minor
On-campus involvement: Student Sustainability Fund (Public Relations Chair), club lacrosse, Greek life (AEPi)
What inspired you to start the task force? Last semester I was nominated to a University Wide Task Force on Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence. The task force was started by Dean Stahl in an effort to address these issues on Wash U’s campus. I was assigned to the Education and Prevention subcommittee, and at the initial meetings, I was often the only undergraduate fraternity member in the group. I had a lot of questions addressed to me because a lot of the focus of the force was on my community. Through this, I realized how fraternities account for a disproportionate percentage of assaults on campus and that rally didn’t sit right with me. I have three younger sisters, one of which is coming here next year, and I want to do anything I can to make our campus a safer place. Sexual assault is an incredibly sensitive and uncomfortable topic, but I really believe that it does need to be addressed, no matter how difficult it may be. If any of this work prevents even one incident, then it will all be worth it.
Can you tell us a little bit about the task force and what you hope to accomplish? Earlier this semester, I made a proposal to the Interfraternity Council (IFC) to create a task force looking into sexual assault within Greek life here at Wash U. It’s comprised of a member from each fraternity, chaired by myself, and administrated by Gabe Davis (sophomore in Sigma Chi), who is the IFC’s Social Justice Chair. The group is still in its initial stages, but the goal is to release recommendations on ways we can more effectively address and prevent sexual assault on our campus. Really, one of the main goals is to start a productive dialogue about sexual assault and Greek life within fraternities. Some great ideas have come out of the meetings so far, and I think any changes or programs recommended by the task force will be effective and innovative.
How did you initially get the task force moving? Did you have support from the get-go? I’ve had a lot of help from Wash U’s director of Greek life, David Stetter, and Austin Sweeney, the Univeristy’s specialist on sexual assault and relationship violence. David had nominated me to the university-wide task force, and has been instrumental in helping me go through the proper channels to make the proposal. The fraternity chapter presidents were also incredibly receptive to the task force and unanimously voted in favor, so I could not have done it without their support as well. Initially, I was a little nervous about finding support for the initiative, but I think that there are a lot of genuinely concerned fraternity members who are invested in making Wash U a safer place. In popular culture, fraternities have gained a reputation of being hotspots for sexual assualt and sexual violence, but the Greek community here has been incredibly supportive and proactive in addressing this issue.
I know there is already a university-wide task force, but do you think this new one will help to increase awareness even further? I hope that both of these initiatives help start a dialogue on campus about sexual assault. Wash U is a special place, and it’s hard to imagine but it is a problem here. I just hope that talking about it will help people realize what they can do to make a difference or at least to not be indifferent. I also hope that we can eventually include the women’s panhellenic community in the future.
What will we be seeing from the task force in the near future? As of our last meeting, it is looking like there may be new departments or branches of IFC in the future focusing on prevention and education for new fraternity members, but nothing is set in stone yet. There is also a men’s group being formed that will be a brother organization to CORE (Community Organized for Rape Education). This group will be tackling a lot of men’s issues and will be addressing sexual assault on campus as well. Everything is still in its preliminary stages at the moment, but I think it’s worth saying that all of these initiatives are being launched organically and not in response to any particular event. I don’t know of many other schools that have started programs like these as proactive rather than reactive measures, and it makes me proud to be a part of the Wash U community. April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and there are scheduled events and seminars, including an opening ceremony for the university’s new Office of Sexual Assault. There are a lot of great ways for Wash U students to get involved in this area, and I really hope that we can create a safer campus for everyone going forward.