$29,799 granted to combat sexual assault

Waynesburg University plans to use funds to implement mobile app

Of all students, 11.2% experience rape or sexual assault, but only 20% of female student victims ages 18-24 actually report the crime to law enforcement. Nine out of 10 female college victims know their offender.

These statistics, according to the Civic Nation initiative “It’s On Us,” have inspired the It’s On Us PA campaign to fight against sexual assault.

Pennsylvania Representative Pam Snyder announced last month that Waynesburg University is to receive a $29,799 grant to combat sexual assaults on campus.

“Every student on our college and university campuses deserves to learn in an environment free from any form of violent or threatening behavior, and that includes harassment and sexual assault,” Snyder said in a recent news release. “These funds will help Waynesburg University implement vital prevention programs and services to educate students, teachers and administrators and provide needed resources to help survivors of sexual violence.”

Stacey Brodak, vice president for institutional advancement and university relations, said the funds will be used to implement a mobile app that would allow students to report cases of sexual assault anonymously.

“The idea behind that is that sometimes people aren’t comfortable reporting,” Brodak said. “So we want to make sure people are as comfortable as possible on an anonymous app.”

The app would not only be encouraged for students but also for faculty and staff to report anonymously on sexual assault incidents.

It’s On Us PA “brings together college and university presidents, superintendents, administrators, teachers, students, families and community members to reframe the conversation around sexual violence and pledge to be part of the solution,” according to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s website.

Brodak worked closely with Jim Tanda, director of security operations and emergency management, and others on the security team to discuss what needs there are at Waynesburg University.

Another modification need identified by Brodak and the security team was the low lighting around certain areas on campus.

“It [could] enhance lighting, which goes hand in hand with making sure people are visible and safe when they’re out on campus, particularly at night,” Brodak said.

Fortunately, the university has not seen a high number of incidents over the past few years. According to Clery Act data, Waynesburg University reported no rapes in the past three years.

“The goal is always zero incidents,” Brodak said. “We are proud that we have a safe campus, and we really want to work hard to keep it that way.”

The grant has yet to be received by the university, but Brodak predicts that beta testing for the app will begin in the spring and they will start training students this upcoming fall.

“To be honest, we would do it regardless of the grant. It’s important,” Brodak said. “We’re really fortunate that the grant is in place and supports our effort to do that financially.”