Governor Wolf, Tournament Coaches: Stop the Madness, End Sexual Assault

March 17, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today joined the head coaches participating in the men’s and women’s tournaments from Duquesne University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University, Saint Joseph’s University, Temple University and Villanova University to urge Pennsylvanians to make a pledge to play a role in preventing, addressing, and responding effectively to sexual violence, as part of the commonwealth’s “It’s On Us PA” campaign.

Pennsylvanians can take the pledge to end sexual assault at governor.pa.gov/its-on-us/.

“Pennsylvania is home to some of the best schools and athletic programs in the country, and sexual assault should not be part of any student’s experience. Ensuring our students’ safety and well-being is paramount not only to their success, but the success of Pennsylvania as a whole,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “I’m proud to be joined by these accomplished coaches who not only excel on the basketball court, but also set a tremendous example every day for their players to shape them into better women and men, and role models for their communities. Let’s stop the madness – take the pledge and help Pennsylvania end sexual assault.”

“Sexual assault, violence and harassment have no place in our university. It is counter to our values, as a university and team, to respect every individual,” Pitt Men’s Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon said. “For Pitt, as a community, including our coaches and student athletes, maintaining a campus environment where sexual violence is prevented and addressed is a responsibility that we all share.”

“At Duquesne University, we strive to educate our student-athletes and prepare them to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur. We want them to step in and do something – anything – to avoid any incident of sexual assault that may occur,” Duquesne Women’s Basketball Coach Dan Burt said. “At Duquesne University, our staff and student-athletes have taken the pledge to be part of the solution. We encourage all members of the Duquesne community, as well as every resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvanian to do the same.”

“The “It’s On Us PA” initiative is a cultural movement aimed at fundamentally shifting the way we think, talk about and act around the issue of sexual assault,” said Temple Men’s Basketball Coach Fran Dunphy. “Temple urges everyone – men and women – to make a personal commitment to holding themselves and each other accountable and realize that the solution begins with us.”

“Robert Morris University is committed to supporting the It’s On Us PA campaign. It is our duty to cultivate and maintain a safe campus community where it is recognized that non-consensual sex is sexual assault,” said Robert Morris Head Women’s Basketball Coach Sal Buscaglia. “Sexual assault is unacceptable. My fellow coaches and I, while competitors on the court, join as one in a concerted effort to pledge our support for the It’s On Us PA campaign.”

“At Saint Joseph’s University, we work with our athletes to be Everyday Champions – we teach them values for life, not just basketball,” St. Joe’s Men’s Basketball Coach Phil Martelli said. “Hawks are trained to be good citizens, to live the Magis and that includes not only refraining from any form of sexual harassment or violence but also interrupting others when they see what might be heading in the wrong direction. It’s on us to educate our students about methods to prevent sexual assault.”

“The University of Pennsylvania women’s basketball team wholly endorses Governor Wolf’s ‘It’s On Us PA’ initiative, and we are thrilled to join him in this campaign during this exciting time in our season” said Penn Women’s Basketball Coach Mike McLaughlin. “As the father of a young daughter, and as a coach who is asked daily to lead, mentor and empower college-aged women, I am particularly sensitive to this issue, and in those positions I am happy to stand side-by-side with the Governor in his public stance against this terrible crime.”

“At Villanova University, love and respect are essential to the life of our community. We believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to create a safe and caring community and prevent sexual violence,” said Villanova Men’s Basketball Coach Jay Wright.  “This means that we step up and step in during the moments that matter.  It’s on us, Nova Nation!”

Governor Wolf announced the launch of “It’s On Us PA” in January making it the first statewide campaign to address the crisis of sexual assault in schools and on college campuses. Building on the national “It’s On Us” movement launched by President Obama and Vice President Biden in 2014, “It’s On Us PA” will engage education leaders from school superintendents to college presidents as well as students, athletes, teachers, families, and communities to make a personal and public pledge to play a role in preventing, addressing, and responding effectively to sexual violence.

The specific goals of “It’s On Us PA” are to:

  • Improve awareness, prevention, reporting, and response systems in schools, colleges and universities to better serve all students.
  • Remove/reduce barriers that prevent survivors from reporting and/or accessing vital resources by creating a more consistent, empowering reporting process for student survivors of gender based violence.
  • Demonstrate significant, proactive, and sustainable leadership to change campus culture by challenging Pennsylvania’s education leaders – including college and university presidents, superintendents – as well as students, teachers, faculty, staff, families, and communities to pledge to improve their institutions’ climate.

This initiative builds on an important dialogue sparked by the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape in November, which brought together educators, advocates, students, and policymakers for a screening of The Hunting Ground documentary.

Pennsylvanians can join the conversation and pledge their support on social media using the hashtags #ItsOnUsPA and #StopTheMadness.

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