IFC hosts sexual assault talk with renowned speaker Daniel Faill

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Daniel Faill, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Elon University, spoke to an audience of 1,200 members of the SLU community on Monday, Oct. 24 in the Wool Ballrooms. The Interfraternity Council invited him to campus to speak on topics such as sexual assault and substance abuse. A panel discussion with leaders in the Greek community followed his presentation.

Faill recounted his college experiences as the audience responded with laughter, groans and silence when appropriate.

As a male victim of sexual assault himself, Faill’s story provided a different outlook on the topic.

Erin Sokol, Vice President of Foundation for Delta Gamma, appreciated his message. “He gave a new perspective of what it means to be sexually assaulted on campus and gave both men and women talking points that we can move forward with,” she said.

Maggie Kroeff, a sophomore member of Kappa Alpha Theta, agreed with Sokol’s sentiments.

“I think what stood out to me a lot was how he basically gave his college timeline,” she said. “I think that’s something that really helped amplify the story and make it relatable for the audience.”

As a member of a fraternity, Faill connected with his audience. His current job with Elon University puts him in constant contact with Greek life. However, he realizes that it’s not a perfect system. “The reason I like my job is because I believe in our potential,” he said. “I believe that fraternities and sororities should be the safest places on college campuses. And we’re not.”

His call to action asked students to be vulnerable with one another within their communities. He equated this to playing catch — one person shares a part of their life with another and then they share something else in return. Faill thinks this is an important step that is often overlooked in preventing sexual assault on campuses.

“That’s what we’re unwilling to do,” he said. “We have to have this facade that everything is fine. And it’s not.”

Faill ended with a challenge for his audience. “What I would challenge you with, right here, right now, is can you, will you start a conversation that matters?”

After a round of applause, a panel of leaders in the Greek community took the stage. This included Emma Bottin, a member of Gamma Phi Beta and a representative of SLU Wellness; Brendan Wright, Vice President of Standards of IFC; Connor Bradford, president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon; George Tarp, Vice President of Administration of IFC; and Emily Bley, president of the Panhellenic Council.

The event moderators provided a phone number and a code so that audience members could text in their questions anonymously. The questions ranged from queries on why certain percentages of fraternities and sororities had to be in attendance to definitions of consent to what IFC fraternities are planning on doing next to keep the conversation on sexual assault going.

The members of the panel took turns answering the questions. Bradford stressed the importance of the Greek community’s involvement in events like this. “Our participation in these organizations is voluntary, so we choose to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” he said. At least 50% of members of each fraternity and 75% of each sorority were required to be in attendance. Bley said that the difference was purely due to the hard numbers of each chapter, with fraternities having considerably less members.

The members of the executive board of IFC first heard Faill speak at a leadership 2 October 27, 2016 NEWS Faill: Speaker explains how to prevent sexual assault at SLU conference in Indianapolis, In. They decided to invite him to speak to SLU’s Greek community to show another side of the issue of sexual assault. “It’s important to get that other narrative that you really don’t hear very often because it’s not really one of those things that you hear coming out of masculine spaces,” said Tharp. “A lot of what we see in fraternities is this very nasty ‘bro’ culture and I think we often neglect that there are issues in our community and this is actually one of them.”

On the panel, Bradford spoke to the issue of toxic masculinity and everything he is doing in his chapter to help break down the issue.

“I think that many people have a textbook definition of masculinity, and I’ll be honest, I know I did at one point in my life,” he said. “And I’m starting to realize it’s not just clear-cut, it’s not just a recipe. It’s unique to all of us.”

Next steps to continue the conversation on sexual assault include more programming by IFC and Panhellenic, participation in Sexual Assault Awareness Month, adding the positions of Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion to both councils in January, and bystander intervention training by SLU Wellness. Bradford also mentioned his initiatives for masculinity awareness within his chapter. Tharp discussed how he facilitated bystander intervention in each chapter last spring. The main goal of all these activities is to continue the conversation.

“These things run deeper than you think,” said Bradford.