Remarks by Governor Wolf at It’s On Us PA Press Conference

June 08, 2016

It’s On Us PA Press Conference
Harrisburg, PA

TRANSCRIPT:

I want to thank all of you for being here to contribute to the important work that the “It’s on Us PA” campaign is doing.

The effort to combat sexual assault and provide a safe haven for Pennsylvania’s students and young people is extremely important

That is why Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to join the White House in this noble effort

This initiative has three goals

First, to improve awareness, prevention, reporting and response systems in the commonwealth

Second, to remove or at least reduce barriers that prevent survivors from reporting sexual assault

And third, to demonstrate that we are committed – at all levels – to the task of eradicating this scourge in Pennsylvania

We need to treat sexual assault in our schools and colleges as the serious problem it truly is

We need to agree that we’re not going to put up with it any longer

That’s because sexual assault has a corrosive effect on all of us, and especially on those who are assaulted

An estimated 1 in 5 college women are assaulted

Nearly 20% of young women between the ages of 14 and 17 are sexually assaulted

Mostly by someone the survivor knows and trusts

Classmate

Supposed friend

A relative

Or a family member

And the impact is serious and widespread

Survivors are more likely to experience immediate and long-term health issues like:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – 94%

Depression – 75%

And suicidal tendencies – 35-50%

Safety is a fundamental civil right and sexual assault is a clear violation of that civil right

When that violation occurs for any member of a community

It occurs for every member of that community

It violates the right of everyone to a safe society

Pennsylvania must take a stand against sexual assault.

That’s what the “It’s on Us PA” campaign is all about.

It is about we, as a Commonwealth, saying that this act is entirely unacceptable and against the way of life we envision for ourselves and those in our community

When these acts are not taken seriously, or ignored, victims are singled out for humiliation and those that have committed them go unpunished

That’s what happened at Stanford University, where a member of the University swim team was caught in the act of raping a young woman

He received only 6 months in a county jail with probation, while his victim will have to live the rest of her life with the feeling of violation and danger that he caused

These kinds of leniencies send a message to the community that we are not serious about preventing sexual assault, and safeguarding our young people.

These kinds of leniencies are unacceptable.

The “It’s on Us PA” campaign is about delivering that message across the Commonwealth.

We need to end sexual assault

My administration is committed to this goal.

We have great partners in this effort who are committed to doing just that

Since January, over 800 people – including over 200 colleges, universities and school districts in Pennsylvania – have signed the pledge to join the “It’s on us” campaign

My administration has engaged them to help in this effort

Over the past 6 months, we have held roundtables across the Commonwealth to hear from survivors, students, healthcare professionals and policy makers, trying to create better strategies for ending sexual assault

To that end, I have proposed $1 million in the 2016-17 budget to invest in community partnerships that will help prevent sexual violence and remove barriers to reporting in schools across Pennsylvania

Additionally, I have directed the Department of Education to provide support and technical assistance by administering this program and align state level resources to better support school districts and postsecondary institutions

In the near future, my administration will introduce a legislative package designed to ensure that safety and wellbeing of students and young people

This package will target the enormous number of statutes and regulations that cover different types of harassment and violence to identify opportunities to prevent sexual violence

I am determined to make Pennsylvania a shining example to the rest of the world as to what committed citizens can do to make our world better

It’s truly on all of us to accomplish this

Let’s get to work

And thanks for your commitment to freeing our commonwealth of the problem of campus sexual assault

Now, I am very proud to turn the podium over to Coach Jay Wright

Coach Wright is a key ally in the effort to end sexual assault on campus

He, like the rest of us, is committed to making sure that sexual assault has no place in the life of a young person.

He also happens to coach the National Champion Villanova Wildcats Basketball team

Jay Wright


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