The brothers of the University of Maine’s Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter gathered in the Somerset parking lot on Saturday night to support their fraternity’s biggest charitable event of the year — Rock Against Rape.
Now in its 11th year, the annual concert raises awareness of rape and sexual assault in the community. The lineup featured the Skastitutes, Molly Webster and the Dictionaries and DJ Les.
Ryan Pottle, this year’s Rock Against Rape chair, said the concert provides “music and a message.”
The concert began with a speech by Bud Walkup, an Education Specialist at the Student Wellness Resource Center of the University of Maine. Walkup welcomed the first-year students to the university and told them to keep each other safe throughout their college experience. He cautioned women to be safe, but also gave an instruction: “Men,” he said, “we need to step [it] up.”
The Skastitutes, a group who performed as part of last year’s concert and includes Sigma Phi Epsilon brother Mark Rucci, took the stage and performed a mixed set of originals and covers that got the audience dancing.
Molly Webster and the Dictionaries played a lower-key set without Molly Webster, who was absent that was hindered by a poor audio mix. DJ Les finished the evening with house music.
Later in the evening, Brianna Bryant from Rape Response Services of Bangor got on stage to inform students of what services are offered. Bryant told students that University of Maine’s Good Samaritan program applies to reporting rape. The Good Samaritan program offers amnesty to a student who reports a life-threatening emergency to the police if the reporting student is engaging in illegal activities.
According to the 2011 Maine Crime Victimization Report, nearly one in five Mainers report being the victim of a sexual crime or attempted sexual assault in their lifetime, one in four college women will be raped during her collegiate career, according to the 2000 US Department of Justice report “The Sexual Victimization of College Women.”
“[Rape] does happen,” Bryant said. “It happens in the community. Some of our friends are victims; some of our friends are perpetrators.”
There were seven reported sexual offenses on the University of Maine Campus in 2008, three in 2009 and nine in 2010, according to the University of Maine’s campus crime statistics website.
The concert, while designed to promote the awareness about rape for everyone, is focused on first-year students. Joseph Linscott was the Rock Against Rape chair for Sigma Phi Epsilon last year, and says he worked to make the event first-year-friendly. The concert was previously held on the Alumni Lot. Starting last year, the concert moved to Somerset Lot, located directly next to several first-year dorms.
“My first week here, I didn’t know where anything was,” Linscott said. “I wanted to bring [the event] closer to the freshmen.”
Michael Fixaris, faculty advisor for Rock Against Rape, feels that the event is particularly important for first-year students, as they are not always aware of the dangers they face.
“Safety begins with the individual,” Fixaris said. He added that he hopes that educating individuals will make them take the responsibility to care for themselves and their peers more seriously.