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The Penn Consortium for Undergraduate Women is “refocusing efforts” on its push for a center to help rape victims, according to College junior and PCUW vice chairwoman for University relations Kaneesha Parsard.

After urging that the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania become rape-designated — a legal distinction that allows hospitals to treat and examine victims of sexual assault ­­— PCUW is now advocating for a specialized center to serve rape victims in the Penn and West Philadelphia communities.

Since HUP is a trauma center, Parsard explained, patients come for treatment on a range of medical issues — meaning longer wait times in the emergency room for rape victims. A center specifically for rape victims would help alleviate these wait times, she said.

The change in tactics comes after PCUW leadership met with members of the Division of Public Safety on Friday, Parsard said.

PCUW released a petition last Tuesday urging HUP become rape-designated in light of the rapes on campus last month.

The petition had gathered 1,453 signatures as of Sunday night, which Parsard called “a manifestation of students’ support on campus.”

The idea of a specialized center that provides medical and forensic examinations for rape victims is not new, she explained. Several years ago, the Elwyn Institute — located at 4040 Market St. — was a candidate to become one of these centers, but failed because it lacked adequate square footage, Parsard said.

She added that such a center would be funded primarily by the city government and might take “from months to years” to establish.

Other obstacles aside from funding include finding an eligible space for the center, securing the commitment of specialized sexual assault nurses and gaining the approval of local law enforcement, she said.

Parsard said PCUW will continue to meet with other Penn affiliates as well as Philadelphia government officials to “get a better understanding of the medical and legal implications” of establishing a specialized rape treatment and examination center.

PCUW and One-in-Four, an all-male Penn group that raises awareness about sexual assault, will continue to solicit student involvement, she said.

Additionally, she said, students involved with the effort are reaching out to student leadership at other Philadelphia-area schools to show city-wide student support for the issue.

“We really are trying to have people think about this issue and how it affects them,” said College senior and One-in-Four president Josh Pollack.

Pollack pointed to “Stories of a Rape Survivor,” an upcoming event co-sponsored by One-in-Four during the United Minority Coalition’s Unity Week in November, as an example of One in Four’s current efforts.

PCUW’s original petition is available online at

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