With regards to abuse against women, Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice Lanny Breuer said “whether it be 1 in 5, 1 in 4, 1 in 10,” it is “simply shocking” and “unacceptable.”
Breuer visited Penn Monday for the “Collaborating to Combat Violence” event as part of a five-person panel that presented and discussed issues surrounding violence against women and how Penn’s various groups are addressing the topic.
While most panel members were Penn-based, Breuer participated as a representative of the Department of Justice’s March Madness Tour, an initiative developed to increase awareness of the roles of federal, state, local and university institutions to prevent acts of violence. Eight Department of Justice representatives will be visiting 11 schools across the country throughout the month, including Harvard, Brown and Stanford Universities.
The Department of Justice “approached us to be one of their tour stops since we are recipients of a three year Department of Justice grant, and because we have been actively engaged in violence prevention,” Penn Women’s Center Violence Prevention Educator Jessica Mertz wrote in an e-mail.
Throughout the event, panel members discussed their roles in preventing and raising awareness of sexual, dating and other forms of female-targeted violence.
Breuer spoke about how “the federal government has an important role,” but emphasized that the “government alone can’t stop violence on college campuses.”
Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush, Education and Training Coordinator of Women Against Abuse Azucena Ugarte, former One-in-Four President and College senior Joshua Pollack and Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention founder and College junior Liat Fleming-Shemer made up the rest of the panel, providing for an “inter-generational panel of distinguished guests,” according to Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum.
“The event spoke to the wonderful collaborative efforts from the federal to the student level,” Fleming-Shemer said.
Mertz explained that the Penn Women’s Center, along with the Office of Alcohol and Other Drugs, the Division of Public Safety and VPUL, collaborated in planning the event.
From Women Against Abuse’s legal services, domestic violence shelters and a 24-hour hotline to One-in-Four’s presentations across campus intended to “get guys to understand their own behavior,” the panel covered a wide range of resources available to students.
College senior Rachel Squire found it “reassuring” to see that “there are so many different parts of the Penn community that really do care about this.”
According to Pollack, the event was “effective,” particularly because it “didn’t try and hide that abuse and assault still goes on and that there is still work to be done.”
There will be more events on the topic in the future, Mertz wrote, including Take Back the Night, an annual event hosted by ASAP set to take place on April 8.
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