by Carole Jurenko Jones, Alpha Delta (U of Alabama), 2017-2019 NPC Chairman
National Campus Safety Awareness Month has been part of the back-to-school public conversation every September since 2008 when it was first approved by Congress. It’s the perfect opportunity for everyone in the fraternity/sorority community to continue the important discussions surrounding sexual violence, student care strategies, hazing, alcohol abuse and dangerous social cultures on college campuses today.
The National Panhellenic Conference has been vocal on the topic of student safety on campuses for many years and is committed to partnering with our student life colleagues to create cultures where students advocate for one another and find sustainable ways to shift the dangerous culture at a faster pace than it was created.
We have been and continue to be committed to providing resources and finding solutions to improve campus safety. Of particular note:
- The NPC Student Safety and Sexual Assault Awareness Special Committee developed the NPC Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Toolkit for our College Panhellenics to use for education purposes and share with other women on campus. The committee also developed the “Real Talk Time: College Panhellenic Sexual Violence Assessment Initiative” program that will be piloted on four campuses this fall.
- The NPC Board of Directors approved a position statement against sexual assault in February 2015.
- NPC continues to participate in social media awareness campaigns like National Campus Safety Awareness Month that are aimed at creating environments of compassion and respect on campus.
- In 2016, NPC joined Texas Woman’s University’s “Cultivating Safe College Campuses: A College Sexual Assault Policy and Prevention Consortium.” This group seeks to establish consistent, effective prevention and response measures to campus sexual assault.
- In November 2017, NPC issued a “Call for Critical Change” in sorority/fraternity life by bringing together leading campus administrators, subject matter experts and sorority leadership to work toward creating opportunities to address critical issues within our Panhellenic communities.
- NPC continues its partnership with “It’s On Us,” an organization that works to educate, engage and empower students and communities across the United States to do something, big or small, to end sexual assault. It has been inspiring to see the creative ways our members, both collegiate and alumnae, have come together to lead the way toward finding value in addressing problematic behaviors.
- In August 2018, the NPC Board of Directors approved a revised Government Relations Platform with one of its focuses on the advancement of student and campus safety.
- Each of the 26 NPC member organizations have their own student safety and advocacy programs and efforts that are supported by NPC through social media and other public relations outlets.
In relation to all of this, Sept. 24-28 is National Hazing Prevention Week, which brings to the forefront that campus safety includes being educated about hazing prevention. NHPW is an opportunity for college campuses, schools, communities, organizations and individuals to raise awareness about the problems of hazing and promote hazing prevention.
Importantly, NPC continues to advocate for state and federal legislation that appropriately defines hazing as a crime and mandates accountability as well as promotes transparency of reporting hazing incidents on college campuses. As we work to advocate and preserve the sorority experience, we are working to prevent the types of campus tragedies we have seen in recent years by educating and supporting our members and giving them confidence to report inappropriate behavior.
As I have said before: The sorority community can, and must, do its part to create safer campus cultures where students advocate for one another. That is why NPC will continue in its student safety and wellness advocacy work as well as lead efforts to change by bringing together campus professionals and other like-minded organizations and individuals to work toward creating the kind of campus culture we aspire to build everywhere.