This spring, a new stand-alone rape crisis center will be established, catering to the Penn community and Philadelphia residents.
The center — which will open near Episcopal Campus at Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia — will combine healthcare treatment, counseling and law enforcement services into one location, streamlining help for those who report rape or sexual assault.
Currently, individuals seeking help are transferred to the emergency rooms at either Episcopal, located at 100 E. Lehigh Ave., or Jefferson Hospital at 310 S. 10th St., where they are administered a rape kit consisting of exams and forensic data collection.
However, officials at Penn have found flaws within the current system.
“We don’t like our victims going to emergency rooms,” said Pat Brennan, the director of Special Services for the Division of Public Safety. DPS provides support for students affected by criminal victimization.
The emergency rooms do not distinguish rape or sexual assault patients from others who come seeking medical help, and the wait times can be very long — up to nine hours — she added.
“The wait time at Episcopal and Jefferson, as the years have gone by, is just outrageous,” said Kathleen Brown, a professor in the School of Nursing. “Many people would just give out waiting.”
The new center will greatly shorten wait time for victims, Brown said, adding that DPS will be responsible for transporting victims to the center.
Currently, Penn students can seek help for rape or sexual assault through the Penn Women’s Center, Student Health Services and Penn Police, among other organizations.
Although the center will provide new resources, the “services offered on campus won’t change,” Brown said. “The Women’s Center will remain, counseling services for students will remain.”
Despite these resources, student groups had hoped that services would be even more accessible to student victims of rape or sexual assault.
Last September — in response to initiatives launched by the Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women — the Undergraduate Assembly proposed the creation of a rape crisis center in West Philadelphia.
However, “a conscious decision” was made to place the center closer to Episcopal since it already provides emergency room services for rape and sexual assault, Brown explained.
Though student groups had advocated for West Philadelphia as the location, it is ultimately the city’s decision where the center is established, Brennan said.
Establishing a center closer to Penn would be too costly for the city in terms of real estate, she added.
“There are obviously myriad different factors going into this decision,” College senior and UA President Matt Amalfitano said.
“Penn’s voice is important,” but federal and citywide concerns ultimately take precedence, he added.
The center is slated to open in either April or May of this year.Comments powered by Disqus
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