In light of an increase of news and discussion surrounding sexual assault, a group is looking to continue to promote educating students on gender-based violence and reduce rape culture on campus.
Based out of the KU Panhellenic Association, the Campus Assistance, Resource, and Education Sisters is a program dedicated to reducing rape culture on the University's campus. The CARE Sisters are preparing for their third year in operation.
“I think what has made the program so successful is that the students take some leadership and some initiative,” said CARE Coordinator Merrill Evans. “We really are just looking for students that are engaged, that have similar values in terms of addressing rape culture, addressing gender-based violence.”
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The CARE Sisters task force were founded in 2015 by a group of sorority women in response to a study on nationwide sexual assault statistics and the potential for the University to be investigated for Title IX-related issues. Since then, the CARE Sisters have expanded beyond the Panhellenic Association to Multicultural Greek Council. In the 2017 fall semester alone, the CARE Sisters have responded to six incidents, according to Evans.
“It’s been really interesting to see how the women in my chapter have been using it, because every call I’ve gotten has been a friend who’s not in a sorority,” said CARE Sister Ellen Edmonds, a sophomore finance and accounting major. “It makes me feel good that sorority women are using these resources and then sharing it with other people who aren’t in the greek system to also use those resources.”
The CARE Sisters are primarily hoping to allow students to feel comfortable talking about their experiences. CARE Sisters are trained on how to respond and how to keep information confidential in order to be an effective resource to those who may have experienced some form of gender-based violence.
“CARE Sisters are what we like to call really well-informed friends,” Evans said. “So basically they’re women within the greek community that are going to understand, believe and validate their sisters if they’ve experienced any form of sexual violence.”
Now that they are a much more established group in both the greek community and across the campus, the CARE Sisters are hoping to start more dialogue on campus and in the community about gender-based violence with the recent spike in media coverage the issue has been receiving.
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This is due to Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’ potential changes to Title IX by repealing the Obama-era procedures behind sexual assault and how campuses should go about dealing with such situations, as well as the #MeToo trend on Twitter and other social media platforms and even recent allegations surfacing at the University.
“The more well-informed folks we have out there that can kind of like chip away at rape culture, we can kind of tear down that scaffolding that allows folks that facilitate acts of violence and those perpetrators,” CARE Sisters leadership member Jenny McKee said. “If we don’t have a culture in which folks that perpetrate acts of sexual violence can survive in and thrive in, then they can’t perpetrate those acts.”
If you or someone you know has been involved in an act of gender-based violence, the CARE Sisters can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.