On Sunday, Feb. 20, Associate Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at University of North Carolina Charlotte Bonnie Shade came to host an on-campus discussion for students in Greek Life centered around ending sexual violence on college campuses.
The event was a mandatory event for all members of active Greek life chapters at the University.
Attendance for the event was strong, with the 1,200 seat venue being largely filled. The discussion began with a welcoming introduction from Shade, in which she addressed all students and explained her mission.
She explained that her goal was to lead a meaningful and relevant discussion about the reality of sexual violence on college campuses, supplementing with how Greek life can be central to such an issue.
Over the course of the discussion, Shade gave a powerful personal testimony as well as a broad overview of statistics regarding campus sexual violence. Statistics such as the fact that one in five college aged women have experienced sexual violence, as well as that women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community are over four times more likely to experience sexual violence were particularly prominent, and truly amplified the impact that this issue has on every college student.
Shade continued on to deconstruct what sexual violence “should” look like, and many other common misconceptions about the issue that are important to raise awareness in everyday life.
Applicability was a large takeaway for Shade, as she stated that the conversation around sexual violence is not about warning signs or changing behaviors, but an ethical conversation to have about how individual actions affect others.
Shade was asked specifically about how her work applied to Greek life and her motivation for talking to the Greek life chapters at the University. “I think Greek life is a place where people can come learn and engage… I think fraternities and sororities that don’t have room for the conversation (regarding sexual violence) are failing at making men better men and women better women,” Shade said.
This commitment to “bettering” oneself was key to Shade’s takeaways from the event, as in the closing minutes she discussed the University’s conduct policy specifically as well as how to be a supporter for oneself or for others around them.
“When we have events like Bonnie Shade’s, I’m confident in saying a large majority of us probably know the right answers/responses and we all are pretty well-versed on consent, forms of sexual violence, etc. (thanks to Speak Up and other resources) but it’s less prevalent to prioritize and practice these conversations/discourses in our everyday life, which I believe is equally, if not more, important,” Katelynne Schmidt ’22 said.