This weekend the Greek community, as well as many other university community members, gathered together for food, fun and a good cause. Rape awareness was the purpose of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Rock Against Rape concert, which was attended by about 400 students Saturday.
The event was a combination of entertainment and raising awareness about rape and victims of rape. Yet, this concert was different from many other rape awareness events because it was sponsored by a men’s group for rape awareness and tried to spread the word to people who may not know a lot about it.
“We wanted to get people who don’t usually think about the issue to come down to a concert and free food,” said Peter Nick Pike, a Sig Ep brother and last year’s chair of Brothers Engaged Against
Rape. “We wanted people to be thinking about it at the beginning of the school year, especially with all the freshmen coming in.”
The brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon became involved in rape awareness when they were chosen by Safe Campus to start a men’s group on campus two years ago.
Last year Sig Ep formed the group Brothers Engaged Against Rape with help from Safe Campus. According to Pike, the group wanted to do an annual event. They got the idea for the concert from a list of events similar groups had done at other universities from Men Can Stop Rape.
“The concert sounded like a fun event,” Pike said.
The night started off with The Maine Steiners performing to a crowd of about 80, that soon grew. Students enjoyed a free meal including burgers, hot dogs and watermelon, as they sat on the grass and listened to the Steiners perform. The male acappella group moved their act off the stage to be closer to the audience.
Carey Nason from Rape Response of Bangor and Hillary Maher from the Safe Campus Project followed, speaking about their organizations and how students can get involved.
The Safe Campus Project was started in February 2001 with a grant the university which was received from the Office of the Prevention of Violence Against Women, part of the Federal Justice Department’s effort to improve women’s safety on campus.
According to Maher, Safe Campus works on outreach, education, advocacy and training, as well as facilitating groups such as B.E.A.R. and the Men’s Education Network of UMaine. Safe Campus has drop-in office hours on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 201 East Annex and can be reached at 581-2515.
“[Rock Against Rape] is a great project that Sig Ep has put a tremendous amount of work into,” Maher said after the concert, “especially Nick Pike, who did a phenominal job. It was an awesome event and we were glad to see so many students out to support the project and the cause and having such a great time.”
David Rider, a representative from Men Can Stop Rape was the next speaker between bands. MCSR is a national organization out of Washington, D.C. that works as a consultant with Safe Campus on their men’s programs.
According to a pamphlet, the organization promotes “gender equity and [builds] men’s capacity to be strong without being violent, through awareness-to-action education and community organizing.”
Pike and Oscar Sparrows, B.E.A.R.’s current chairperson, spoke about their organization. According to Pike, fraternity brothers who are interested in getting involved can join B.E.A.R.
B.E.A.R. currently consists of 37 members, all part of Sig Ep, but hopes to involve more fraternities in the future. Other men interested in rape awareness can join the UMaine MEN’s group.
Audience members began to get up off the ground and gather round the stage as Warmfront came on and were dancing by the time Seeking Homer took the stage.
Sig Ep also provided a table with literature on rape and more information on these organizations, although it was hidden beside the food table due to stage setup changes.
Many of the handouts focused on what men can do and why it is also important for men as well as women to become involved. According to one handout, 80 percent of rape victims know the man who attacked them. “It becomes virtually impossible to distinguish men who are safe from men who are dangerous … men who will rape from men who won’t,” according to the handout. “The result is a society with its guard up, where relationships with men are approached with fear and mistrust … and where all men are labeled ‘potential rapists.’”
“We want people to think about [the issue], that [rape] does happen,” Pike said, “not to dwell on it, but just to think about it.”
The concert ended a half – hour early because of noise complaints. Since the sound system was pointed at the river, sound traveled down it.
Public Safety, who was in charge of security, shut the concert down after hearing of the complaints from Old Town police, Pike said.
Sig Ep received funding from Student Government and the comprehensive fee, as well as using the group’s own funds to pay for the food and entertainment. Other fraternities donated some of the grills for the barbecue.