One in four college women have been raped or sexually assaulted. It was this very statistic that led Castleton junior Robert Burge to participate in the newly established CSC peer group One in Four when it began last fall.
Burge took a Women’s Studies course during his sophomore year at Castleton, upon which his professor, Sanjukta Ghosh, recommended that he join the budding group. He attended a One in Four presentation and took part in a 20-hour training weekend with several other male students, including SGA President Ed MacNulty, Aldeberto Silva, James Vicki, and Douglas Phillips. All have since become active participants in the group.
The training was led by the national One in Four organization which was traveling to various campuses across the country in an RV to raise awareness about sexual assaults.
“I never knew the statistics, all those crazy statistics,” Burge said. “Five percent of all rapes result in pregnancy . . . (and) is the most unreported crime because girls start to blame themselves or people question them and all the processes (the victims) have to go through. The rape exam and how intrusive it is — I learned all of that at the training weekend.”
It was professor Linda Olson, the co-chair of the campus C.H.A.N.G.E initiative who felt that it was important to bring One in Four to Castleton. In her research, she found that male-to-male peer advocacy groups or education groups are two of the most effective ways in changing male attitudes that contribute towards sexual violence.
Douglas Phillips, known around campus simply as D-Phresh, is an active member of the group. He joined the group unsure about what to expect, and it turned out that some of his good friends were alongside him in the group’s efforts to raise awareness.
“It’s a diverse group of us. We all have different backgrounds. It has built bonds among us,” Phillips said. “I just want to help other people – it’s not about me. It’s to get to know people better and to help them, to educate men about things they can do if they’re put in a situation to help prevent sexual assault.”
Next fall, One in Four will merge into a larger program, Peer Advocates for C.H.A.N.G.E., a mixed-gender peer support group. Jacklyn Van Manen, student coordinator for the C.H.AN.G.E. initiative discusses the plans for the program, which include a 24-hour sexual assault crisis hot-line, male-to-male presentations and a mixed male-female panel for presentations. In addition, the peer advocates will also be required to attend 40 hours of training to prepare for their positions.
The group has already given several presentations to fellow students since its formation.
“It’s really just a matter of people wanting to have the presentations – whether it be in a class, or in a residence hall, a sports team, or a club,” Van Manen said. “I think once the word can get out more then it’ll definitely have a huge impact on the campus.”
Burge is especially passionate about the issues raised with One in Four and will continue his involvement as the program transitions. He speaks out about raising awareness in an enthusiastic, hopeful manner, and his dedication is solid. He’s made it a point to show others the ways in which they can help the cause, too.
“Men can help by getting involved. There are different things in the presentation – like talking about how the word ‘bitch’ is used and words like that, that degrade women,” Burge said. “Don’t use those, spread the word respect. Respect women like you’d respect your friends. Especially at a party; if she’s too drunk, then don’t even think about it. So just spread that word.