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Penn Anti-Violence Educators, a new peer education student group, held their first large workshop of the year for Panhellenic sorority members on Friday.

Photo: Anna Hess

Penn Anti-Violence Educators held their first large workshop of the year for Panhellenic sorority members on Friday at the Shotel Dubin Auditorium in Hillel’s Steinhardt Hall. The PAVE program is a new peer education student group where students facilitate workshops and presentations to educate other students on how to be active bystanders in ending sexual and relationship violence on campus.

The program was jointly created by Director of Student Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Jessica Mertz, the Undergraduate Assembly, Penn Women’s Center, 1 in 4 and Abuse and Sexual Prevention. The creators wanted to make a curriculum that would teach students about bystander intervention in the context of Penn and its specific resources.

The program was created just before the Penn released its results of the American Association of Universities’ Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct this September. Only about half of Penn respondents felt that the University would support them if they reported an instance of sexual violence, according to the survey results.

At Friday’s workshop, four to eight members from each of the eight on-campus sororities were present at the event, and some chapters awarded points and incentives for the members who attended. The workshop consisted of viewing and discussing a video for an anti-sexual violence campaign, discussions about applicable scenarios and pre- and post-workshop surveys.

The workshop was led by Nursing senior Leah Quinn and College sophomore Gabriela Goitia. The students spoke about the roles that offenders, facilitators and bystanders play in on-campus sexual violence, as well as how elements of campus culture like sexism, homophobia, racism and hyper-masculinity promote sexual assault and violence.

The educators encourage students to take action by acknowledging behaviors, assessing options and acting accordingly. “At PAVE, it’s everyone’s responsibility to intervene and check in with people to see if what’s happening to them is what they want,” Quinn said. Quinn explained that an active bystander is one who “intervenes when they witness harmful behaviors.”

The pre- and post-surveys asked questions about whether the student had taken action against sexual violence on-campus, whether they thought sexual violence was a prevalent issue and what they had taken from the workshop. All attendees were also given a resource guide that details the on-campus resources available for dealing with and preventing sexual violence.

“I liked the seminar and the issues that it addressed, but I wish they discussed more realistic situations,” attendee and College sophomore Brady Schneider said. “That said, it definitely has a good purpose behind it that we should all think about.”

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