Special OpEd by Rachel Benner
Vox Siren, Social Media Engagement Intern
Sexual violence on college campuses is pervasive. The recent outrage over Brock Turner’s sentencing is just the tip of a sinister iceberg, one that permeates nearly every college campus today. For students involved in fraternity and sorority life, this issue is especially important for us to address.
Here are the facts: According to a 2014 study, women in sororities at the University of Oregon are over three times more likely to experience sexual violence than their non-Greek fellow students. More recently, an external review of the Oregon Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) community reported peer pressure within sororities not to report sexual violence for fear of social repercussions, among other concerning conclusions.
I hear these findings and I cringe. I am a sorority sister, and a member of the Oregon FSL community, but disturbing reports like this one make it hard for me to reconcile that part of my identity with my feminism-- and, frankly, with my desire to be a decent human being. How can I knowingly align myself with a group that pushes issues like sexual assault under the rug?
I’m still trying to answer this question. Most days I am proud of my Greek membership. My sorority was founded with arguably feminist motives: 12 women came together in 1867 to support each other during a time when women were a small minority on college campuses. They pledged to have each others’ backs, and to live with integrity, honor, respect, and sincere friendship.
With this historical context, it is even more disturbing that sorority women are at greater risk for sexual assault then the other students. Members of a group created to support women in a patriarchal world are now facing its dangers at higher rates. Assaults are always the fault of the perpetrator, but rape culture shifts the blame to the victim, who, as this report shows, are often members of sororities.
Sorority history and values are empowering, and they reflect the personal experience I have had. The relationships I’ve formed in the last two years through my sorority have been invaluable. The strong, motivated women I have met offer me incredible support as I navigate the challenges of university life.
When I look at this external review’s alarming findings, I struggle to reconcile two worlds: the sorority life I live, and the FSL community as a whole. The report does not reflect my day-to-day experiences, but at the same time, I cannot deny that it shines light on a dangerous reality.
Denial is an inescapable feature of the FSL community right now. Members feel victimized and targeted by “the media.” They’re quick to point out successful philanthropy events, genuine mentorship and powerful anti-sexual violence campaigns within sororities and fraternities. These things, they argue, are rarely publicized.
While some of these claims are valid, every time I hear some version of “they’re picking on us!,” I push back. Yes, we do positive work, and many students have extremely positive Greek experiences, but sexual assaults are being covered up and ignored in our culture. Nothing can excuse that. FSL doesn’t just have a PR problem. We have a serious culture problem, as well.
When I think of the incredible things my sorority sisters have accomplished, and of what I have learned from my FSL experience, I have hope that change is possible. For example, my sorority produced a production of the Vagina Monologues in February to raise awareness and funds for sexual violence prevention efforts. We received incredible support from FSL as a whole, and the entire process was incredibly empowering. Greek organizations, particularly for women, have untapped potential to challenge the status quo and transform the lives of their members. That’s why many of them began. One day, maybe these organizations will reconnect with their supportive --even feminist-- roots.
For that to happen, however, the denial has to stop. As an FSL member, I have a responsibility to face these facts in this external review and denounce the dark side of our organizations. I hope that the rest of my community chooses to do the same.
Vox Siren is a creative change agency located in Portland, Oregon. We are the leaders of women-centered creative solutions. We create immersive experiences so that all people can benefit from the stories, skills and safety of women. Our product is culture shift.
SPECIAL EVENT COORDINATOR INTERNSHIP
Description: Vox Siren is producing a public screening and artistic celebration of the films directed and produced by girls in our Produced By Her storytelling summer program. The Special Event Intern will have the opportunity to get creative with the Vox Siren team to design a memorable and impactful experience for Portland.
Event Planning and Execution
Work with Special Events Manager and/or key volunteers to coordinate event logistics
Keep guest lists and event data up to date
Work with Special Event Manager to procure and organize supplies for events
Event planning, promotion, and on-site execution including set-up and teardown
Coordinate logistics with emcee and special guestsPoster designated spots in PDX
Contact special guests, VIPs and sponsors to confirm details
Create Facebook and twitter updates for event
Education and Experience: High School Diploma with some course work at a 4-year college or university
Must have a strong interest in event planning
Previous event volunteer experience a strong plus
Must have a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel and Word
Database experience preferred
Customer service experience
Outgoing and well spoken
Handles stress well
A go-getter/pleasant personality
Creative and detail-oriented
Ability to exercise good judgment
A “can do” attitude and desire to learn
Ability to follow instructions and also work independently
Sense of humor is a must!
TIME COMMITMENT AND COMPENSATION
Beginning July 18th-August 28th, approximately 5-10 hours a week
This is an unpaid internship that allots a $100 thank-you gift at the conclusion
Letter of recommendation written by Vox Siren’s Director of Vision and Partnership if completed internship successfully
Opportunity to be part of the celebration of women’s stories
Vox Siren is producing a few other events this year. We are hoping to contract a Special Event Coordinator for future events.
If you are interested in being considered for this position, send resume and cover letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Maria Webster
Vox Siren came to be because our team wants - above all else - to elevate the stories of women. We are a creative change agency that believe all people benefit from the stories, skills and safety of women. This summer, we’ve prepared a unique way to do exactly that.
Vox Siren’s Zoe Piliafas has been working throughout this year to bring the right partners together for this special project. So this summer in partnership with Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, NW Documentary, Metro, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Cycle Oregon, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Upswell and Travel Portland, Vox Siren is presenting “Produced By Her,” a summer program designed to broadcast the voices of young women in Portland.
Twelve young women at De La Salle High School will spend five weeks exploring the importance of women's stories. They will work in groups to produce short documentaries which will premiere at the Hollywood Theater in August of 2016. The Produced By Her girls will also get to go on a historical bike ride and work with Metro to create an exciting bicycle map that highlights the stories of women in their films.
These young women will learn practical skills from videography to bike safety, practice leadership and public speaking, and finally, see their own work on the big screen. They will explore the history of Portland and learn about the women who helped shaped our city.
Kerri Lynne Thorp, Vox Siren’s Creative Director, will be the Program Director, and Kalimah Abioto will partner with Girls Inc.’s superstar facilitator Abby Lucero to guide the young women through the program. Abby Lucero is a seasoned Guide at Girls Inc., and she works hard every year to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Kalimah Abioto is a writer, filmmaker and a recipient of the Hollins University Nicole Kohn Film Award for Exceptional Filmmakers. She is a co-creator, along with her four sisters, of The People Could Fly Project, a multimedia project documenting the dreams and stories of people in the African Diaspora. Vox Siren’s own Kelly Hansen and Zoe Piliafas will be leading special professional development workshops.
As part of the program, Melissa Lowery will host a VIP screening and workshop of her film, “Black Girl in Suburbia,” an official selection of last year’s International Black Women’s Film Festival. This eye-opening documentary explores the experiences of young black girls growing up in predominantly white communities. The Produced By Her girls will have the opportunity to ask Melissa about the process of making the documentary, and her experience as a female filmmaker.
Other exciting activities include bike education with the BTA, a VIP photoshoot and interview session with Intisar Abioto of Black Portlanders, professional editing experience at NW Documentary, a blog workshop with Margaret Jacobsen as well as special guests and field trips.
Throughout this exciting summer, Rachel Bracker will join Kalimah Abioto and Kerri Thorp in collecting footage for a documentary about the girls’ experience. Our goal is to help these young women give voice to their own stories, and to demonstrate the community value of their work by screening it publicly!
On Sunday, August 28th, 2016, Vox Siren, along with our partners, will host a public screening of all of the Produced By Her short films, as well as the all-encompassing documentary, to share the voices of these talented young women and bring them to the attention of the community at large.
Stay tuned for more updates. This is going to be an exciting summer!
We want to thank all of our partners for making this possible. A special shout out to Yeruwelle de Rouen at Girls Inc of the Pacific Northwest for all of your hard work launching this project!
Follow @voxsiren and #ProducedByHer on Twitter and Instagram to follow the girls on their journey.
ATTN: Portland Girls age 13-17 we have THREE spots left for our exciting free summer girls documentary program that starts next week!
You can be a filmmaker, learn from the talented Kalimah Abioto and see your work on the big screen at the Hollywood Theater!
Vox Siren has partnered with Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, NW Documentary, Metro, Cycle Oregon Travel Portland and the The Bicycle Transportation Alliance to create a five week program in which girls will explore the importance of women's stories and produce short documentaries which will be screened at the Hollywood Theater! Not to mention other fun activities like a historical bike ride, a VIP screening of Black Girl in Suburbia and a photoshoot with Intisar Abioto.
This program runs
June 13th - July 15th, 2016
Monday - Thursday
10am - 4pm
in NE portland
If interested, please complete the form below and we will contact you if selected!
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