Student leaders praised the return of Penn Violence Prevention to Locust Walk, but they say more needs to be done to increase PVP's presence on campus.
The Vice Provost for University Life announced PVP’s relocation from 3535 Market St. to VPUL's main office on 3609-3611 Locust Walk on Feb. 12. The announcement comes one semester after PVP left its previous Locust Walk location due to limited campus space, prompting student backlash.
Students and PVP staff said although the move will improve the program's ability to increase accessibility to anti-violence and sexual assault resources, there is a need to hire more full-time staff members and increase funding for PVP.
PVP Director Malik Washington said he has already moved to the VPUL office but that PVP will finalize the move back to Locust Walk in June.
Over the past couple months, VPUL, Penn President Amy Gutmann, and Provost Wendell Pritchett have met with students in PVP groups to discuss the PVP office's potential move back to campus, Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
“[Students] recommended that the physical location of the PVP program was an important symbol of our University's strong commitment to violence prevention," McCoullum wrote. "I am absolutely delighted that PVP has been approved by the University to move into this highly-visible location for this vital support and programming."
President of Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault and College senior Justin Iannacone said he thinks the office's move back to Locust Walk is a step in the right direction.
"I think [the move] is a positive step forward, and I hope it is a first step rather than a single step," Iannacone said.
Washington said the new location will enable PVP to accommodate more walk-ins instead of having to schedule meetings with students. He added that being on Locust Walk will make it easier for PVP staff to collaborate with other administrators.
“We have evidence that shows making these resources on campus as accessible as possible and feeling like they’re part of the community on campus actually encourages people to use them,” Iannacone said.
For Washington, the move to a permanent location on Locust Walk fulfills one of his stated goals upon taking over as PVP director in November 2019.
“I think where the University allocates space and how they allocate space, especially for groups on Locust, is really important,” Penn Association for Gender Equity Chair and College junior Angela Yang said.
Other students said the University should be channeling more resources into increasing PVP's staff and funding.
“The move back to campus isn’t actually that difficult," College senior and PVP work-study student Sarah Hahn-Du Pont said. "It doesn’t disrupt the status quo. It doesn’t require any real introspection and increases in funding."
Washington added that PVP currently has two full-time staff members and is looking to hire two more within the next month.
“My immediate hope is that we continue to search and quickly hire the staff PVP is out to hire right now,” Iannacone said.
PVP’s departure from 3535 Market St., where it shares a floor with Campus Health and Alcohol & Other Drug Program Initiatives, is a swift reversal of a move last semester to what was meant to be its permanent home.
“It feels a little odd that the University would move them off and then move them back on,” Yang said.
Washington said he is confident PVP will stay in its new location for the foreseeable future.
“It’s slow change — it’s incremental change — but it’s happening,” Du Pont said.