The University of Alabama Interfraternity Council (IFC) partnered with Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) to raise $10,690 for the Women and Gender Resource Center (WGRC) on Feb. 15, making it the most successful year in the event’s four-year history.
The fundraiser took place at the ATO house, and all students were welcome to attend. William Gray, the president of ATO, said that the event consisted of mostly Greek organizations.
Gray, who just became president of ATO this semester, said that it was his goal to raise more money for every event that ATO sponsored during his term. At the event, there was music, free chili and fellowship.
“It’s really just an open time – anyone can come in and fellowship together at the house and support the cause,” Gray said. “[We’re] really kind of changing the stigma of Greek life on campus with it, kind of the past sexual violence we’ve had on campus and changing that stigma and helping others.”
The donation is a morale boost to those working with the WGRC and those affected by topics like interpersonal violence.
“It is a way of saying this is an issue that we care about because we’ve taken time and resources to organize around this issue and to help the folks that already set up to do the work and are responding to these issues,” Elle Shaaban-Magana, the director of the WGRC, said.
Prevention and intervention are the keys to deterring and eliminating interpersonal violence. Both the members of the IFC that attended the event and Shaaban-Magana said that this donation is crucial to what the WGRC does as a whole.
“[The donation] means a lot of things to me,” Shaaban-Magana said. “It means opportunities to provide additional support for the work we do advocating and assisting survivors of interpersonal violence through direct client services and also outreach and education.”
Gray also said the WGRC makes a big impact on campus and that he was proud to be part of the house hosting the event. The WGRC’s mission, Gray said, is very meaningful to ATO and the IFC as a whole.
Shaaban-Magana said that the money would go to various projects, including the University’s first-ever “Men’s Story Project.” The project is a national initiative but is the first of its kind on campus and in the SEC. The project will interview the University’s male faculty, staff and students and discuss the mission of the WGRC.
“[Men’s Story is] about healthy masculinities, and we know that’s part of the formula in addressing sexual violence,” Shaaban-Magana said. “It is an opportunity for men to give true accounts of their own experiences of masculinities and manhood.”
Will Henson, the director of community outreach and wellbeing for the IFC, said the Men’s Story Project brings the men into the conversation of interpersonal violence and addresses it within fraternal life. His concern for future female attendants of the University, like his younger sister, was the driving force behind his passion for this event.
“I think it’s a really great way to help combat the stigma, because [interpersonal violence] isn’t something that we’re talking about very much” Henson said. “Obviously, it’s a part of the conversation, but I don’t think we’re being very intentional about the way we engage in it, and I hope the Men’s Story Project can at least open up that discussion a little bit more.”
Some of the funds from the donation will also go to support the WGRC Project Hope Endowed Scholarship, which is used to help pay for college expenses of a student on campus who has suffered interpersonal violence, as well as access to services through the center.
One of the ways fraternal organizations like ATO work to prevent issues sexual assault is by hosting workshops on diversity, anti-hazing and sexual violence.
“We constantly preach taking care of your dates, taking care of the women in your life,” Gray said. “Partnering with the WGRC is putting this in front of our members that this is an organization that we care about.”