U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) joined with Lehigh Police Chief Ed Shupp and other members of the Campus Sexual Violence Advisory Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania last week to unveil recommendations for reducing sexual assault on college campuses.
At a news conference at the University of Pennsylvania’s Public Safety Building, Meehan announced a series of recommendations requested by President Barack Obama following the creation of a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
The advisory council of experts that included Shupp and others from the Philadelphia region helped identify challenges and develop concrete policies designed to protect victims and reduce violence on college campuses.
“College students should be able to study and enjoy their time in school free from the fear of rape or sexual assault,” Meehan said. “In recent years, both universities and law enforcement have improved their ability to prevent sexual assault on campus, protect victims, and bring the offenders to justice. But there’s more that can and should be done.”
The advisory council is sharing the following recommendations with the White House Task Force:
• Streamline patchwork requirements for colleges and universities
• Support effective partnerships between colleges and law enforcement agencies
• Support effective resource allocation
• Increase effective educational programming
• Coordinate a victim-centered response
• Conduct anonymous survey research
• Ensure access to specialized forensic medical care
Noting that southeast Pennsylvania is home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of college students, Meehan said he planned on drawing from the collective “wealth of experience and insight into the challenges faced by colleges and communities as they struggle to cope with rising rates of sexual assault on campus.”
Meehan, who represents Pennsylvania’s seventh congressional district, said that nearly 20 percent of women attending college are sexually assaulted or victims of an attempted assault, but that only 5 to 12 percent of them report the attacks.
“That gap is staggering,” he said. “That amount of victims is eye-opening. We have a responsibility to work collaboratively to assure that we not only prevent future sexual assault in an environment like a college setting, but we are able to respond more effectively to those victims.”
A former prosecutor, Meehan has long worked to protect victims of sexual violence on college campuses. In the 113th Congress, he introduced H.R. 561, the Protecting Students on Campus Act
The group’s report is being shared with the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
Shupp said it was an honor to serve on the task force “with such a great group of dedicated and knowledgeable professionals.
“We look forward to continuing to work together to address the extremely important issue of sexual assault on college campuses and to helping implement our recommendations,” he said.
In addition to Shupp, other members of the Campus Sexual Violence Advisory Council include:
William Colarulo, superintendent of the Radnor Township Police Dept.; Allison Kiss, former director of Security on Campus; Joyce Dale, president of Delaware County Women Against Rape; Gina Maisto Smith, partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP; Thomas DeMarco, director of Residence Life at Villanova; Deborah Nolan, Dean of Students at Ursinus College; the Honorable Wendy Demchick-Alloy, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas; Mary Onama, director of Montgomery County Victim Services; Gabe Gates, Clery Act Compliance Manager at Penn State University; Delilah Rumberg, president of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape; Peggy Gusz, director of Chester County Victims Services; Maureen Rush, vice president of Public Safety at the University of Pennsylvania; Dolores Hess, director of Health and Wellness at Kutztown University; Daniel Shaha, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Penn State University; Sergeant Jack Kelly, head of the Delaware County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force; Pearl Kim, Assistant District Attorney of the Delaware County Special Victims Unit; and Carolyn Welsh, Sheriff of Chester County.