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Delta Advocates play a supportive role within sororities

Mishana Sturdivant, the president of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and a communications and journalism major from Winston Salem, sits outside of Coker Hall on Monday evening.

Mishana Sturdivant, the president of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and a communications and journalism major from Winston Salem, sits outside of Coker Hall on Monday evening.

“They are really just kind of liaisons in the community for any women who experience sexual assault or interpersonal violence of any sorts, so they can talk to a peer, someone their age who understands,” said Julia Mullendore, president of Panhellenic Council.

The Delta Advocate program was proposed within Panhellenic Council in spring 2014. Applications for the new cohort are due Oct. 21.

“The application is live for women in Panhel and for women in the other two Greek Councils who have women — NPHC and GAC,” Mullendore said.

Mishana Sturdivant, president of the UNC chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., has taken the lead in involving National Pan-Hellenic Council with the program. She said interest was stirred in response to a Daily Tar Heel editorial pointing out the Greek Alliance Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council’s lack of participation.

“The editorial made the point that NPHC didn’t really care about the issues with domestic violence,” Sturdivant said. “We wanted to be taken more seriously by getting the training from One Act and participating in these campuswide events.”

Sturdivant said although the council was not involved in Delta Advocates, it has proven its passion for sexual violence prevention through various events held by the sororities and fraternities within the council, including One Act for Greeks.

The small size of National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations compared to those of the Panhellenic Council can serve as a barrier for involvement in programs such as Delta Advocates.

“We’re trying to manage a sorority, a business, an organization, and it’s kind of harder when you have smaller numbers, but we try the best we can,” Sturdivant said. “That should be taken into account when validating whether or not we care about domestic abuse or relationship violence.”

Michelle Leung, president of the Greek Alliance Council, said in an email a representative from Delta Advocates came to a general body meeting and sparked interest in both the sororities and individual members.

She said because Greek Alliance Council numbers are low, the individuals trained will serve the entire Greek Alliance Council community as well as the UNC community, not just their individual chapters.

Advocates share information they hear from survivors only with Cassidy Johnson, gender violence services coordinator for the Advocates' leadership team. Johnson only follows up with students who indicate that they want her to do so.

“When someone goes and talks to a Delta Advocate, they would be communicating with the Delta Advocate leadership team,” Mullendore said. “But it’s still confidential. Nothing would be reported without the student’s consent.”

The leadership team is comprised of Cassidy Johnson, Gender Violence Services coordinator for the Carolina Women’s Center; Jenn Scott, Title IX program coordinator; Audrey Walker and Cherie Michaud in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Kelli Raker of Student Wellness.

“The program is meant to kind of be that first step before they report so they can understand the process and feel supported,” Mullendore said.

Training for Delta Advocates is changing with this second cohort this year to include more comprehensive methods.

“Delta Advocates have to complete HAVEN and One Act training,” Scott said. “Then we are going to try to do a retreat that really focuses on the knowledge and dynamics of sexual assault.”

Advocates will go through evening trainings about prevention and resources for survivors. The program will be around 30 hours total.

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“This is the first year of the program. I think it’s been really successful and really well-received in the community,” Mullendore said. “It’s very much still in the building stage of really figuring out how the program is really going to work.”

Mullendore and Scott both said what’s next for the program has yet to be determined.

“As we continue to expand, we’re looking how to include men,” Scott said.