Wil Overholt (’21) has dedicated his time at Wilmington College to changing campus culture by setting a positive example for his fraternity brothers. When the campus sexual assault education initiative WeCare lost its grant funding, Overholt knew he had to step in. Along with two friends and an advisor, Overholt successfully petitioned the student government to allow the group to proceed as a student-led organization. The reformed group was renamed SAFE (Survivor, Advocacy, Fellowship, and Education), and Overholt took on the role of Vice President.
“I was originally brought into the organization through our advisor for Lambda Chi Alpha,” Overholt said. “Even though she left the position after we joined, we felt that it was important for ourselves as men to stay in the organization and set an example for fraternity men on campus.”
At Wilmington, SAFE’s role is to advocate for sexual assault awareness and provide peer support for a variety of circumstances including sexual assault, harassment and stalking. In response to COVID-19 lockdowns and limits on in-person advocacy, Overholt’s organization found ways to safely continue their work of advocacy and support through a 24/7 hotline. Every day, trained student operators are available to answer calls and refer students to resources around the Wilmington area. For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, SAFE is increasing awareness across campus through tabling efforts such as painting people’s fingernails teal (the movement’s color), offering teal hair chalk, and giving away teal bracelets and buttons.
Overholt has witnessed the positive change resulting from his efforts firsthand.
“I’ve seen it myself in the growing numbers in SAFE, the attendance at events that we have held on campus before and during COVID-19, and the passion of the group to make a difference at such a small campus like Wilmington,” he said. “I have also been proud to see that our Brothers in Lambda Chi Alpha are more willing to talk about the ‘difficult topics’, such as mental health, sexual assault on campus, and being able to communicate with each other.”
Overholt believes opportunities for further growth lie in having more difficult conversations that challenge the standard of what it means to be masculine.
“I have found more success in our chapter by being vulnerable and talking about the things that are going on in our lives, be they good or bad,” Overholt said.
In Lambda Chi Alpha specifically, Overholt teaches his Brothers about the statistics of sexual assault, the warning signs of impending assault, and how to help with victim advocacy. The goals of his teaching are twofold: firstly, to reduce sexual assault at Wilmington, and secondly, to promote a sense of trust among Brothers and other students on campus.
Overholt is excited to continue his advocacy work after graduation from Wilmington this coming May as a Health and Wellness Coach for the Lambda Chi Office of Administration. He hopes to enact positive change in Lambda Chi Alpha chapters by expanding upon discussions about mental health and getting involved with survivor advocacy groups on campuses.
“I owe a lot of who I am to my story at Wilmington and how I got involved in this type of work,” Overholt said. “I would like to do the same for Fraternity Brothers who need to learn about what they can do to help.
“I’m very thankful for my time at Wilmington College, and I cannot wait to see what I can bring to my new team at the Office of Administration.”