Penn State to Donate Bowl Funds to Fight Child Sex Abuse
If bowl committees are concerned about Penn State's image polluting their end-of-season spectacle, they may have something new to consider.
The university will donate $1.5 million of its bowl revenue to two sex-abuse prevention organizations, Penn State announced Thursday, teaming with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) to undertake initiatives to prevent sexual abuse.
"As a University and as people within a caring community we believe it is essential to take a deeper look at the core issue of child sexual abuse and to openly acknowledge the scope of the problem," Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a release. "Our own experience shows that child sexual abuse greatly impacts individuals and entire communities. It is now our responsibility to assist in raising awareness and in helping fight this insidious and often secret crime. We hope that our partnership will help break the silence that surrounds child sexual abuse and lead to better protection of our children."
Craig Weidemann, Penn State's vice president for outreach, will head the team working with the organizations to establish a formal plan and budget. The partnership could focus on a number of areas over the next three years, Erickson said, including:
- Professional education and development for Penn State employees;
- Curriculum content and certificate programs;
- Educational outreach initiatives to communities throughout Pennsylvania;
- Promotion of public awareness about child sexual abuse;
- Assistance in developing research priorities on child sexual abuse and sexual violence;
- Public policy development; and
- Internships and other educational opportunities for students.
"No one can undo the trauma experienced by sexual assault victims," Delilah Rumburg, CEO of PCAR and NSVRC said in the release. "But we can improve policies and protocol to increase safety for people of all ages and help people channel their anger and outrage into positive action and involvement to transform the 'norms' for everyone regarding how they respond to suspicions and allegations of sexual assault."
Based in Enola, Pa., PCAR is a nationally recognized leader in sexual assault prevention. Formed in 1975, it is the oldest anti-sexual violence coalition in the nation, representing 51 sexual assault centers and serving victims in the state’s 67 counties.
Already in the last month, a PSU alumni-led effort has raised nearly $500,000 to fund online counseling and crisis hotline services for Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Penn State's bowl pledge comes on the heels of a town-hall forum Wednesday night where Erickson harped on themes such as integrity, openness and transparency. The meeting was the first of its kind to help students deal with the shockwaves that have reverberated across campus since former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse last month.