Sexual assault survivors use sorority platform to educate and fight back

Sexual assault on college campuses is a threat which cannot go unnoticed.  On our campus it is reported that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in college. What’s worse is that 80% of assaults will go unreported by the victims. Unfortunately three of my sisters have been victims of assault. However, they have decided to take a stand and use their experiences to drive a new campaign.

The inspiration

Pairing up with the Cal Poly Panhellenic Clothesline Project, Sarah*, Hannah* and Rachel began a campaign to combat the stigma and bring awareness to the real world issues that occur on our campus. April, being sexual assault awareness month, was the perfect time to begin their campaign.

Sarah initially reached out to Hannah and Rachel when she realized how well Gamma Phi’s philanthropic focus to empower women would go with the campaign. She saw how sexual assault was something happening out of every woman’s control that was hindering the empowerment.

I wanted to show that we focus on being there for our sisters in situations they could find themselves in and be a voice to our community. I wanted to make it clear that this does actually happen to real girls.

— Sarah
#GammaPhightingForChange Founder

After Sarah found out about the clothesline project she was inspired to use that as a platform to show the unified front our chapter has against sexual assault. Knowing that this was going to be a large task, she reached out to Hannah and Rachel who she knew had also been victims of assault.

“When Sarah approached me I knew I wanted to get involved. I think it is so important to spread awareness of sexual assault. I really am hopeful with this whole campaign that we can get this recognition on a national level,” said Hannah.

What they did

Inspired by the Clothesline Project, the girls bought 100 shirts, designed a logo for the back of the shirts, and created the hashtag #GammaPhightingForChange.

Their first action was to get the girls in Gamma Phi engaged. The girls explained that they were nervous when they first started the campaign. They were worried about how receptive the campus community would be and how involved girls in Gamma Phi would be.  “We knew we needed a big turn out to get this movement up and going,” said Sarah.

“I think we were all so surprised when we ended up running out of shirts for girls to decorate,” said Rachel. The turn up of girls to decorate shirts was above and what was expected, as were the girls who showed up to hang their decorated shirts at the Clothesline Project.

I found so much support and love from my sisters through this project. Seeing the turn out made me feel so comfortable and supported in my situation and past.

— Rachel
Sexual assault survivor

Moving forward

As April has come to a close, sexual assault should still be at the forefront of our minds. Sexual assault is something we must always be aware of. The girls are hopeful that the campaign continues gaining publicity on campus and nationwide.

Additionally, starting May 15 and continuing through May 21, Cal Poly will begin a week of real of wellness. There will be events throughout the week that support health and wellness in college.

“We’re planning to incorporate #GammaPhightingForChange into real wellness week.  We plan to rent out a room in the UU for anyone to come and share their stories or even just come for support,” said Sarah.

Sarah’s initial goal to start a dialogue not only on our campus, but other campuses as well has been successful. The video they made for the campaign was shared on multiple sorority Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as college weekly.  I am proud to call these girls my sisters and stand along side them in the fight for change.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault visit the National Sexual Assault Hotline or call 800.656.HOPE (4673).

*Names have been changed for privacy.

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