Alex Clark '16, the president of Phi Alpha Tau, has joined Emerson STANDS and implores college men to actively engage in dialogue and prevention of power-based interpersonal violence, which includes sexual assault. (Courtesy Photo)
Alex Clark ’16 said that before arriving at Emerson, the last thing he wanted was to be a part of Greek life. Now president of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity, Clark, who is gay, is using his leadership role to encourage more male students to raise awareness of power–based interpersonal violence, and is an active member of Emerson STANDS—an acronym for Stand Together, Act Now, Do Something—through Emerson Violence Prevention and Response (VPR).
“If you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe, know that Emerson provides resources to make this a safe campus,” said Clark, a Visual and Media Arts major, who is also executive producer of the 34th Annual EVVY Awards.
Next month, Clark; fellow Tau brother Chris Dobens ’16, a Marketing Communication major; and VPR Director Melanie Matson are planning to attend the 2015 Conference on College Men at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where they will lead a session on what men can do to prevent violence on college campuses.
How did you become interested in helping VPR?
Coming to Emerson, I never wanted to join Greek life because of the stigma about it in the media. You see movies where fraternities promote an environment all about partying and taking advantage of women, and I thought I had to fit that stereotype if I were to join a frat. However, at Emerson, it’s all about being the best you can. When I was elected president of Tau, sexual violence became a prominent issue societally that we needed to tackle because, while Tau is different from most fraternities, those stereotypes exist for a reason. There are organizations allowing this type of violence to happen, but there are fraternities that want to change the conversation. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to take action; if we have the power to create a stereotype, we have the power to take it away.
What are you doing to prevent power–based interpersonal violence on campus?
Emerson is beginning to further establish the VPR office and I have worked closely with Melanie [Matson] to pursue this change. Also, Tau’s sister sorority, Kappa Gamma Chi, hosts an annual event called Emerald Empowerment Week to campaign against sexual assault and interpersonal violence, and I asked how Tau could get involved. This year’s theme, “Because We Are Equal,” was a great way for Tau to fit in because we realize that sexual violence happens to both females and males. This year, we co-sponsored two events. We screened The Hunting Ground, a documentary film I think everyone should watch. We also co-sponsored the Pay It Forward campaign, where we filmed Emerson students talking about their idea of what consent means and why it is an important issue to address on Emerson’s campus. Additionally, Phi Alpha Tau, along with VPR, hosted a screening and discussion of the film The Mask You Live In, [which examines] masculinity and what it means to be a man.
What does it mean to you to have a campus free of sexual assault and power-based violence?
I think it means that you can be any place on campus in any group of Emerson students and feel safe. You can walk down the street or go to class and never feel afraid or on edge. No one will question, “Can I do this” or “Can I wear this.” This will open up the conversation and people will feel comfortable speaking about these subjects. Emerson is taking a leadership role on this issue and many Greek organizations at Emerson are trying to make a positive impact. Tau specifically has spoken to Greek organizations at other Boston schools to make this a safer city. I think it will have a big impact throughout Boston and spread throughout the country.