Theta Chi supports survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Theta Chi fraternity hosted a sexual assault and domestic violence candle vigil reflection for students and faculty to reflect on the past events that have happened on Iowa State’s campus and to take a stand that certain individuals do not reflect the entire student body.

Sarah Muller

A large blank banner draped across a table sat outside the Sloss House, where people came baring candles in the cold to support those who have been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.

Members of the community were welcome to sign words of encouragement to victims on the banner — which has yet to be decided where to hang — at a silent reflection the night of Feb. 8. 

“I knew I wanted it to be quiet and reflective,” said Brennan Goodman, senior in environmental science and health and safety chair for Theta Chi fraternity. “I didn’t want to do a lot of programming because that could come later. This is definitely the first step in promoting issues.”

Goodman attended a leadership conference, after which he was expected to give a speech on what he had learned. That’s when the idea for raising awareness on sexual assault and domestic violence issues clicked. As a chapter, he said they needed to bring focus on the issues at hand.

Goodman decided to run for the health and safety chair because he initially wanted to focus on physical health after the previous year being dedicated to mental health. After previous events in the community, he decided to change focus. Goodman has lead this program with some assistance from other members of the fraternity.

“I think it was really good to show that the greek community here at Iowa State, as well as the larger Iowa State community as a whole, are very up in arms about supporting survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence,” said Dillon Bechtol, junior in communication studies and international studies and president of Theta Chi.

Overall, Bechtol said it was easy to put the event together. After filling out registration and getting it approved with the Office of Greek Affairs as well as the authorization company, the group’s greatest challenge was getting the word out. But, Bechtol and Goodman said they were content with the turnout on such short notice.

“We didn’t want to put a specific time cap on [the event] just because we want people to be free to come and go as they pleased,” Bechtol said.

Goodman said that the event was not a result of the sexual assault incidents that have occurred recently, however, it could have inspired the idea. Sigma Alpha Epsilon was not able to attend the event, but members were reached out to individually.

Bechtol said he believes it’s important to show the rest of the community that a vast majority of students are against these acts and show that opposition by showing support for survivors.

He said the actions of a few do not define a group as a whole.

“The Iowa State community has really been under a microscope when it comes to these issues and how they have been handled in the past,” Bechtol said. “I know there will be more programs like these coming out in short order.”

Goodman said he hopes that members of the community would walk away with a deeper understanding.

“We are not here to solve the issue,” Goodman said. “We all need to be here and support the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.”

Multiple people approached Bechtol and Goodman about their excitement for the event. Bechtol said people who could not attend reached out via Facebook and text message, but wished their best.

“It was heartwarming for me to hear everyone’s support and show that all of us are like-minded when it comes to these issues,” Bechtol said.

Goodman said some fraternity members want to make this an annual event. He explained that these issues were so prevalent especially in the college-student age demographic.

“I don’t think you could beat the atmosphere of tonight,” Goodman said. “It’s calm and reflective. Just having this at the same time next year I think would go a long way.”

Other members of the greek community attended in support.

“It’s terrible to hear stories of how people have to suffer through that when it’s not even their fault,” said Angelo Madonia, freshman in public relations and member of Theta Delta Chi. “It’s super important to get the word out so people know it’s real.”

Another date is being considered for a second chance to sign the banner to involve more people. This event was the first of more future outreach opportunities.

“We just wanted to make a showing that individuals who commit those acts don’t represent our values,” Bechtol said. “We don’t stand for those kinds of issues.”