An alleged incident during a sexual assault awareness presentation was “handled internally” by Missouri State’s Generation Action club and Theta Chi.
The event, “Bear With Us,” was held on Nov. 7 as a collaboration between MSU Generation Action, Me Too Springfield, Xi Omicron Iota, Sigma Tau Gamma, Delta Zeta, Theta Chi and MO State Green Dot.
During the presentation — which focused on educating students about consent, sexual health, body autonomy and bystander intervention — audience members were able to ask questions through text.
Camryn Mahnken, a member of Generation Action, was sitting to the left of members of one of the fraternities in attendance.
She said she did not hear a lot of personal conversations, however she said she heard “a lot of laughter.”
“There was a lot of talking during the presentation,” Mahnken said. “It did indicate a lack of respect but I did not hear any specific comments.”
“Some were sending in questions on the anonymous question line that were lewd or disrespectful,” Mahnken said.
She said she could tell who was sending in the questions by the reactions they received.
“Obviously, those are anonymous but you could tell who was reacting to the questions,” Mahnken said. “Whenever topics like sexual assault were being brought up, there (were) a lot of the fraternity members laughing about it. And kind of just giving commentary and talking to their friends during sections of the presentation that were meant to be taken seriously.”
Mahnken said she was shown some of the texts sent in to the text line, including one that said “What do you do if she says no but her eyes say yes?”
“That one was the main one that you can tell, that’s not a genuine question,” Mahnken said “They’re just asking that to provoke.”
Mahnken said there is no way to for sure know which one was
However, according to the Vice President of Generation Action Rachel Smith, it was members of Theta Chi who allegedly used the anonymous text line to write inappropriate comments and who made fun of the event.
“Really sad that Theta Chi partnered with an advocacy group on a sex ed event and made fun of it the whole time,” Smith wrote on her personal Twitter.
In a second tweet, she said the fraternity was making obscene gestures during the presentation.
When asked about the incident, President of Theta Chi Elliot McComas said it would be in the best interest of the situation to not make a bigger story out of what happened.
“Both sides have been collaborating and the situation has been solved,” McComas said in an email.
Similar to McComas, President of Generation Action Kaylynn Wake said what happened was handled internally.
“This was an issue and we have addressed it internally and privately for many reasons,” Wake said in an email.
Mahnken said Generation Action handled the incident very well and appreciated how they talked to the president of the fraternity in question.
“I think that that was the right move to make to address the fact that they had intentionally partnered with an organization to learn about sexual assault prevention and general sex education matters, and then ignored it and treated it disrespectfully,” Mahnken said.
While she said it was handled well, there could have been more done to ensure it was members of Theta Chi who sent the texts.
“I think a step that was sort of missed was identifying and making sure that it was the people from that fraternity whose behavior was in question,” Mahnken said. “I never really liked the idea of punishing a whole group for the actions of few.”
Mahnken said she noticed some men in their group were respectful during the presentation.
Wake and Smith did not want to comment further because they do not think it would “reflect well” on their organization and “could potentially damage our reputation with Greek Life at Missouri State.”
Wake said the goal of MSU Generation Action is to educate to help solve social problems.
“We did not want to put (Theta Chi) on blast and drag their organization through the mud because that is not what we are about or who we are,” Wake said.
A tweet made by MSU Generation Action said over 100 people came to the “Bear With Us” presentation.
“We’re so grateful to be part of the work toward making SGF a more inclusive place!” the tweet said.
MSU Generation Action is the daughter organization of Planned Parenthood. The club says it is focused on reproductive rights, social justice, diversity, the LGBTQ+ community, inclusivity and more.
Their last meeting of the semester is on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.