Sexual Assault/Rape Awareness
Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2000
8:30 p.m. Candlelight Vigil
Old Main Steps
Remarks by President Graham B. Spanier
We are here tonight
to make a powerful, visible statement as a community and as
Every year in this
nation, more than 700,000 women are raped or sexually assaulted.
Less is known about the frequency of attacks perpetrated against
men, but they are among the victims as well. As the most rapidly
growing violent crime in America, sexual assault claims a victim
every 45 seconds.
We must speak out
about these crimes of sexual aggression to let others know that
we will not tolerate rape, sexual assault, domestic violence
or other harmful acts that destroy the dignity and self-worth
of any member of our community.
These violent acts
not only degrade the victims, but also our campus community
and society in general.
Acts of violence
and aggression that go unchecked have the shocking ability to
quickly destroy a community by shattering the trust and safety
we highly cherish. Through this vigil, let us send a clear message
that there is no room on any Penn State campus, or anywhere
in society, for these terrifying and often brutal crimes.
At Penn State, there
are many people working to implement the social and attitudinal
changes necessary to prevent rape and sexual assault. Their
efforts include educational programming to raise the level of
awareness, advocacy for safer surroundings, promotion of increased
civility and social responsibility, and providing resources,
information and referral services.
We are committed
to ending sexual violence and to responding quickly and compassionately
to those victimized by it.
In this month of
October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Congress
has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, which allows
spending of $3.3 billion over the next five years on new and
existing programs to combat sexual violence.
As part of that reauthorization
and through the efforts of Sabrina Chapman, director of our
Center for Women Students, and Peggy Lorah, assistant director
of the center, Penn State will receive more than $450,000 to
improve the campus culture and increase prevention of these
Through this funding,
we are launching a broad initiative to fight violence against
women with new collaborations with community partners and new
The money also provides
training for Judicial Affairs staff and University police officers,
as well as all faculty and staff. Some of these programs will
extend beyond University Park to other Penn State locations.
It is my hope that
through these initiatives we can focus community attention on
the work that still needs to be done to stop all forms of violence.
We must continue
to draw attention to the problems of the victims of these crimes
of sexual aggression and hatred.
As I have said before,
actions that threaten the dignity or safety of any one of us,
represent threats to all of us.
Sexual assault impedes
the personal and academic development of everyone in our community.
Let us join together to stop this silent, violent epidemic.