First, the investigative committee must be expanded to include people who are independent of the University. Second, the investigation needs to be expanded to include all forms of campus violence. Specifically this investigation needs to 1) include ways to break down the wall of immunity between the Athletic Department and the rest of the University, and 2) review policies, programs, and reporting mechanisms across the University and within the Athletic Department on all forms of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking
CREATE AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE
On Monday, November 7, the Penn State Univeristy Board of Trustees announced that they would be appointing an “independent” committee that includes “counsel and investigative teams” to investigate the allegations of child sexual assault. On Friday, November 11, when the Board announced the chairs of this committee, they stated, ““The complete committee membership will be determined and announced in the near future and is expected to be composed of a majority of Board of Trustee members with representatives from each of the board's constituencies as well as representatives of the Penn State community including faculty, students and alumni.”
This second statement indicates that the people conducting the investigation are not fully independent. All of the investigative committee members that are to be appointed are Trustee members, current members of the University community, or alumni. There are no experts on sexual assault or domestic violence, or stalking. There are no survivors. And there are no members of the larger community – whether that be people living in Centre County or more broadly across the communities in Pennsylvania where the other Penn State University Campuses are located.
EXPAND THE INVESTIGATION TO ALL FORMS OF CAMPUS VIOLENCE
There been many instances over the last the last 17 years where a wall of indifference has occurred between the University as a whole and the people within Athletics. Examples of earlier incidences include:
• Joe Paterno making insensitive remarks about domestic violence and sexual assault that were shrugged off as jokes by individuals, the Athletic Department, and the PSU administration;
• Athletics allowing a football player to play in a bowl game AFTER he was suspended for two semesters for an alleged rape; and
• The PSU administration weighed in on a rape case to have the sentence of a former Penn State wrestler placed at a minimal 6-month stay in the county jail.
Over these past 17 years, there have been some, but not enough, efforts to address this issue campus-wide. But other than ordering that no suspended player can play sports at Penn State, nothing seems to have been done to break down this wall between Athletics and the rest of the University for acts of violence against another person.
Therefore, this investigation needs to be expanded to ensure that any child, woman, or other adult – faculty, staff, student, or visitor on campus—should ever have to endure such violence again.
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