Men start sexual assault awareness group

When a student advocacy group against sexual assault hosted the nonprofit Men Can Stop Rape for a training session last year, Kostantinos Skordalos realized his organization lacked male voices.

Skordalos, a sophomore, is a second-year member of the campus group Students Against Sexual Assault. He explained that its makeup is predominantly female, and he feels men are less receptive to its message.

“It’s hard for them to take [sexual assault] seriously,” Skordalos said.

After the training session with Men Can Stop Rape, Skordalos kept in touch with the director of training, Joe Vess, and learned about Men of Strength – the group with 100 chapters nationwide.

This fall, Skordalos will lead the district’s fourth chapter of Men of Strength at GW. The organization plans to give males an opportunity to open the discussion on sexual assault and stereotypes about masculinity and male violence.

A large focus will be placed on bystander intervention training and programming in an effort to prevent violence against women, Vess said.

The first meeting will be Sept. 6 and the group will be based out of residence halls, Skordalos explained, in an effort to be accessible to male students.

GW’s chapter will be a partner of Students Against Sexual Assault, the existing student group dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault and sexual violence. Students Against Sexual Assault reaches out to students through awareness campaigns, like the 3000 campaign and Take Back the Night event, Emily Rasowsky, the organization’s president, said.

“The whole goal is to make the issue college and GW specific, to really bring it home as much as we can,” said Rasowsky, a junior. “It’s not a women’s issue. It’s an everyone’s issue.”

Because Students Against Sexual Assault and Men of Strength share similar goals and have a mutual member in Skordalos, the two groups plan to work together closely.

“We see GW Men of Strength as another way for men to get involved in preventing violence against women,” Vess said.

Adam Middleton, an incoming freshman from D.C., joined Men of Strength in 10th grade as a way to better understand masculinity.

“[Men of Strength] definitely helped, not just the conversation, but being in a group where it was a comfortable space for guys to just talk,” he said.

Now he has become part of the conversation in planning GW’s chapter.

“I’m really looking forward to getting the structure of the program more familiar to the student body. When I joined, I had no idea the depth and the services of the club and how much it would help me,” Middleton said.

This article was updated on August 30, 2011 to reflect the following changes:
During the editing process, The Hatchet incorrectly attributed two quotes to Kostantinos Skordalos.

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