Sexual violence has been a hot topic on Penn State’s campus recently, and some on-campus clubs have been highlighting the subject as well.
Peers Helping Reaffirm, Educate and Empower and Men Against Violence are student-run groups by the Penn State University Center for Women Students.
PHREE is a women’s group dedicated to increasing awareness about some issues that college students face today, Audra Hixson, PHREE adviser , said.
“Members educate the community on a variety of topics, including healthy body image, sexual assault and healthy relationships,” she said.
For Abby Yochum, (senior-security risk analysis) a PHREE member, the group is a place to communicate and try to empower each other on campus. She has been a member for three years and joined the group because she has a passion for women’s rights activism.
“Before joining the group, I wasn’t aware that sexual assault was an issue and PHREE has helped me understand sexual violence on campus and try to prevent it,” she said.
The group has weekly meetings during which women get trained to do presentations to different sororities and classrooms. To join the group, students can go to the Center for Women Students located in 204 Boucke .
“PHREE provides social connections as well as good experience in community education,” Hixson said.
Men also have an opportunity to spread awareness by joining Men Against Violence. The group does presentations to classrooms and fraternities to educate students about how to respect women.
They don’t go there to preach, they go to discuss and tell the audience that it is important that men become allies to women because everyone has to work together on the cause of sexual violence, said Susan DelPonte, adviser for MAV.
For students like Tanner Fitzgerald (senior-finance), a member of MAV, sexual assault is an important issue on campus and men should get involved in the group to decrease this problem.
“If you have women in your life who are important to you, and you don’t want to see them affected by sexual assault, this is a way to decrease and make an impact on sexual assault,” Fitzgerald said. “You cannot save everyone, but you can stop maybe one victim and people have to realize that she is someone’s sister or daughter.”
To join the group, men can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for information about the group.
MAV has some difficulties getting members because some men think that if they don’t harm women they have no reason to be involved in the cause, said DelPonte.
“It’s really important to join the group and women really appreciate it. It’s not a weird thing to stand up for women,” said Fitzgerald.