Unlike other students in the building, those who gathered in Gore Hall Room 114 were not there to attend a night class.
Those who gathered there at 7 p.m. had come to listen to Paul Calafiore give a talk on sexual assault prevention at an event hosted by the university’s chapters of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Inc. (LTA) and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. The event took place on the evening of April 10.
Each semester the sisters of LTA choose a philanthropy to support as a group. According to chapter president Vanessa Santiago, they decided on sexual assault because it was relevant to the group’s members.
“A lot of [sisters] have personal ties for it, and we feel that this is especially important on a college campus where it can remain hidden,” Santiago says.
Calafiore, an entrepreneur and contestant on season 18 of CBS’s “Big Brother” reality show, gave the talk through his organization The Rise Up and their partner the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).
The Rise Up, which Calafiore created in fall 2016 after leaving the “Big Brother” house, aims to support a variety of issues.
“The end goal is to create a place where people can talk about their issues, to create a place where they can voice their opinion, and to create a platform where people can feel comfortable all at once.” Calafiore says.
Throughout the the interactive lecture, Calafiore discussed a variety of topics including why sexual assault happens, how to prevent it as a bystander and what to do if you become the victim of an attack. However, he had a clear overarching goal.
“The main thing I want you all to take away from this is this word: empowerment,” he says. “I want you to leave this room feeling more powerful than you did before you walked into this room.”
Jenna Hitchens, a 22-year-old survivor of sexual assault and RAINN representative, also spoke. She says she believes one thing is especially important for survivors.
“…the most important thing for assault survivors to do is talk,” she says.
She aimed to begin the dialogue herself by making sexual assault her platform while running for Miss Delaware. She has continued that work by striving to pass Erin’s Law, which would make it mandatory for teachers to be educated about signs of sexual assault in children.
By the conclusion of the evening the conversation Calafiore and Hitchens aimed to start had begun — many of the students began to ask the pair questions and discuss the content of the lecture amongst themselves.
Victor Forman, a brother of Kappa Alpha Psi, says he learned the importance of being vocal.
“… you need to tell people of all ages that you need to be aware and able to speak up because you need to tell people so they can get help,” he says.
With the dialogue open, Calafiore hopes that the students will take become active in his movement.
“In order to get anything done, there needs to be action attached to the voices,” he says.