LATROBE, PA – As part of the It’s On Us PA initiative aimed at combating sexual assault on college campuses, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera announced that Saint Vincent College will be the first institution awarded a special $15,000 research grant to monitor and assess the effectiveness of the statewide program.
In all, nearly $1 million in grants will be awarded to 36 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania in 2020 to be put toward preventing, addressing and responding effectively to sexual violence on college campuses. This is the fourth year of the It’s On Us PA initiative, an offshoot of the It’s On Us national initiative created in 2014 by President Barack Obama and the White House Council on Women and Girls.
“Every student, teacher, administrator and visitor to our campuses deserves a safe environment free from harassment,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. “This is the fourth year that my administration will be working with students, schools and communities to build programs to raise awareness about and stop sexual assaults. We must never tolerate this behavior on our campuses or a culture that allows it.”
The assessment program was proposed and developed by Dr. Sarah Daly, assistant professor of criminology, law and society at Saint Vincent College, along with Ryan Lemmon, a student in the College’s criminology graduate program and native of Uniontown.
During the 18-month project, Daly, Lemmon and criminology students will use stratified sampling to randomly select 28 colleges from the 113 Pennsylvania institutions that have received It’s On Us funding. They will then conduct interviews with Title IX coordinators and survey students at these 28 institutions in order to learn the following:
- How have institutions utilized It’s On Us PA grant funds to improve policies and programming?
- What are the effects of these policies on campus awareness, culture and knowledge regarding Title IX issues on campus?
- What additional resources and support do institutions and Title IX coordinators need to improve upon current policies and programming?
The project will culminate with midpoint and final presentations of the findings and recommendations for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
In a press conference at the Pennsylvania State Capitol announcing the awarding of the 2020 It’s On Us PA grants, Daly explained the impetus for Saint Vincent College applying for the research grant before providing a detailed outline of the project.
“In our master’s program,” Daly explained, “I teach a course on policy analysis and program evaluation, because knowing how to find out what works is perhaps one of the most important skills a student can have. When the Commonwealth shared the information on this new research grant, it reinforced the importance of measuring outcomes and effectiveness of programs and policies. I offered my students the opportunity to engage in this research with me, Saint Vincent College completely supported the endeavor and Ryan boldly answered the call to put forth the skills he learned in class into practice.
“Colleges, universities and students,” she continued, “face extraordinary challenges in educating, preventing and reporting sexual violence, but this commitment from the state, from Gov. Wolf, from the national It’s On Us campaign, from the Department of Education and from our own institution, Saint Vincent College, reminds us all that the struggle is not ours alone to bear. This is a coordinated, meaningful effort to not only measure the effectiveness of the program but to better support it and those who do the most important work every day. This grant program, along with the addition of the research grant, shows that there is genuine commitment to make our institutions safer places for students to grow and learn.”
Saint Vincent College has previously been a recipient of It’s On Us PA grant funding in both 2018 and ’19. Pennsylvania became the first state to launch a statewide initiative off of the national It’s On Us campaign in 2016.
“We thank the leadership at our colleges and universities for providing students and employees with the critical programs and skills to prevent and end sexual violence on their campuses,” Rivera said at the press conference. “Through Governor Wolf’s continued commitment to this important initiative, we are implementing strategies that elevate awareness, engage communities and improve institutional campus climates.”
In addition to Daly and Rivera, other speakers at the press conference at the Harrisburg Capitol included Tracey Vitchers, executive director of the national It’s On Us campaign; Elizabeth Swantek, Title IX coordinator at Millersville University; and Lindsay Becker, a student at Wilkes University and member of its It’s On Us committee.
Along with Saint Vincent College, other institutions to receive It’s On Us PA grant funding for 2020 are Albright College, Bloomsburg University, Bryn Mawr College, Butler County Community College, Chatham University, Cheyney University, Clarion University, Community College of Allegheny County, Curtis Institute of Music, East Stroudsburg University, Gannon University, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Holy Family University, Immaculata University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Keystone College, Lehigh College, Lock Haven University, Lycoming College, Manor College, Marywood University, Mercyhurst University, Millersville University, Peirce College, Penn State University, Point Park University, Rosemont College, Saint Francis University, Saint Joseph’s University, Shippensburg University, South Hills School of Business and Technology, Thiel College, the University of Pittsburgh, Waynesburg University and Wilkes University.
The official press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Education announcing the 2020 It’s On Us PA grant recipients can be found at this link
PHOTO: Dr. Sarah Daly, assistant professor of criminology, law and society, speaks at a press conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg
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