Administrators recently decided to move Penn Violence Prevention from its office on Locust Walk to Market Street. Since 2016, PVP’s Locust Walk office has been a hub for PVP staff and student groups, such as Penn Anti-Violence Educators and Men Against Rape & Sexual Assault.
While the new location on 3535 Market St., where PVP shares a building with Student Health Service, offers a permanent home for PVP as well as more space, the office is less visible and accessible, which will be detrimental to student well-being. PVP deserves a permanent home where students can easily see and best utilize the resources being offered. By moving the PVP office back on campus, the University would be making a clear statement about the value it places in the critical work being done by the organization.
PVP is a collaborative program that provides education, outreach, and confidential resources for preventing and combating sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking. These issues need to be addressed and taken seriously, especially on Penn’s campus. The American Association of Universities survey reports that almost a third of Penn’s female undergraduates and 5.5% of male undergraduates say they have been sexually assaulted. Because of the prevalence of this issue at Penn and around the country, the University must prioritize the efforts by PVP to combat these issues.
The new placement of PVP suggests Penn has an apathetic attitude towards serious issues. Many have questioned why cultural centers are cramped in the basement of the ARCH building instead of displayed more prominently on Locust. After Counseling and Psychological Services moved to 36th and Market streets in 2015, some students complained that the increased distance made it more difficult for them to reach the resources.
Penn has repurposed former fraternity houses into the LGBT Center and the Penn’s Women’s Center, from which PVP originated. It is commendable that Penn allocated space to these underrepresented groups, but it is not enough. PVP deserves a similar space for its advocacy. Anything less is a hindrance to PVP’s efforts, which are already suffering due to understaffing as the search for a new director continues.
There is sufficient space on campus for fraternities, offices, and a constant stream of new dorms. There are sufficient resources from donations and the University’s $3.5 billion operating budget for New College House West and Tangen Hall, the new entrepreneurship building. Penn claims that students should be glad that PVP is getting more space on Market Street, but this move suggests that PVP wasn’t valuable enough to have space allocated closer to where University life takes place. Penn needs to bring PVP back to campus, and in doing so make a strong statement that the mission of PVP is vital to the health and safety of all Penn students.
Penn may one day be a school without a culture of violence that targets nearly a third of the women who attend. Today, however, Penn needs to implement measures to reach that goal. In a climate where violence is an everyday reality for some students, PVP must have a place at the heart of student life.
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