Monday, November 7, 2011

Press Release: PSU Must Immediately Address the Full Range of Sexual Assault Issues on Campus and in the Athletics Department

Earlier today, Pennsylvania NOW sent a letter of concern to Penn State University President Graham Spanier and Chair of the Board of Trustees Steve Garban. 

We are greatly concerned and appalled about the allegations of child sexual abuse against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and the apparent lack of appropriate follow-through to notify law enforcement in a timely manner as required by law, and the alleged perjury to the Grand Jury resulting from this lack of follow-through indicating a possible cover-up of what occurred. We are calling on Spanier and the Board of Trustees as the corporate stewards of PSU to take immediate and far-reaching actions to ensure that Penn State students, staff and the families in the surrounding community never have to see this kind of behavior and resulting exposé ever again. 

We are pleased that the Penn State Board of Trustees met last night and took appropriate action by accepting both Tim Curley’s and Gary Schultz’s request to step down from their current positions at the University. But we are concerned about Dr. Spanier’s statement of November 5 giving unconditional support for both of these men.

Our youth deserve better custodians of their lives while at the University.  Everyone attending, working at, or participating in programs and activities at Penn State also deserve an environment free of violence.  Therefore we are asking the Administration and the Board of Trustees to follow through on the Board’s plan to conduct an independent review of the University’s policies and procedures related to the protection of children; review with administrators police reporting protocols; publicize the findings of the independent review; review with administrators police reporting protocols; and enhance educational programming around such topics. As part of this process and to further advance the zero tolerance policy made in 2006, we have requested that the Board:

1. Broaden the review to include all policies surrounding sexual assault, domestic and dating violence,  and stalking of both children and adults;

2. Broaden the review to include ways to break down this wall of immunity between the Athletic Department and the rest of the University, and to review policies and programs across the University and within the Athletic Department on all forms of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking.

3. Consider, as part of enhanced educational programming, bringing in outside training from people within the sports field who are respected by Athletics who may be more accepted by athletic staff and coaches (we initially suggested this in 2006, but as far as we know, this has never happened);

4. Create a protocol or policy that ensures that individuals are not retaliated against when they report allegations of abuse to authorities as required by law or university policy.  As the New York Times reported, The chronology of events laid out by the state attorney general’s office includes multiple episodes that seem to suggest a failure by a variety of Penn State officials or employees to act emphatically, whether out of fear, incompetence or, perhaps, self-interest.  As with sexual harassment, fear often results in stifling someone from speaking out; and

5. Fully enforce the 2006 zero tolerance policy, up to and including, separation and/or permanent resignation of individuals from the University who participate in, condone, or cover up this form of behavior through either their action or inaction. 

1 comment:

  1. The Daily Collegian, PSU's student-run newspaper ran an article this morning regarding our call for an expanded review of campus violence policies. You can read it at

    FYI, the 2006 zero-tolerance policy statement mentioned in this article that PSU President Graham Spanier released in April 2006 is supposed to be university-wide and includes everyone in the university community, not just students.

    When we met with the University administration in 2006, this was clearly noted. Yes, part of the policy shows up in the student policy. But there are pieces elsewhere as well, including university-wide protocols on sexual assault, relationship/domestic violence, and stalking. Services are also available at the Center for Women Students and, I believe there are also other policies elsewhere for faculty and staff.

    But apparently this isn't enough considering what has happened and what continues to happen in the Athletics department. We believe that there is a partial wall between the University and Athletics that creates a climate in this department that allows them to overlook and diminish these types of acts and crimes. Which is why NOW is asking the Board of Trustees to broaden their investigation and look at the full policy -- not only for child sexual assault but for all forms of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking of both children and adults across the entire University and within Athletics.