'It's On Us PA' grant to help reduce barriers for reporting sexual misconduct

January 31, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State received a $30,000 grant as part of the “It’s On Us PA” campaign to help expand educational efforts around sexual misconduct and sexual violence across all Penn State campuses, especially with non-native English-speaking students.

The grant will fund the translation of sexual assault prevention and response videos as well as corresponding materials created in 2017 with funding from a previous “It’s On Us PA” grant into six additional languages. The Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response (OSMPR), a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, applied for the current grant with the support from campus and community partners.

With the previous “It’s On Us” grant, Penn State created a collection of training and promotional videos to raise awareness, education and resources to combat sexual assault, stalking and discrimination. In addition, the videos provide information about the reporting avenues, resources and support services available to Penn State students, faculty and staff.

While OSMPR has seen an increase in student engagement around the topic of sexual violence and an increase in reporting overall, students continue to express that there are still barriers to coming forward. International students, specifically, report at a lower rate than other demographics. Penn State’s data suggests that Penn State’s international students are two to three times less likely to report than their domestic counterparts.

“International students and non-native English speakers join our community with a wide array of cultural and social norms that influence their understanding of sexual behaviors, especially consent,” said Dominique Donaho, Title IX investigator, OSMPR. “Through our interactions with international students, it is increasingly clear that there is a wide range of perspectives with regards to both recognizing and reporting sexual violence. A survivor, regardless of their background, may find speaking with someone about their experience difficult; however, we see a particular reluctance among non-native English speakers to engage with our office.”

In addition, language can present a barrier for respondents, or accused students, which can leave them unsure of their rights. Material translations also will assist these students in understanding the process, as well as their rights and options.

The grant will enable OSMPR to reach established goals and bring new opportunity to engage with students at 24 campus locations with online access to the translated “It’s On Us” videos, intake and materials. These resources will be translated into six commonly spoken languages — Arabic, Mandarin, Korean, Spanish, French and Malay — among Penn State students.

“Our hope is to decrease the uncertainty that goes along with reporting for all students, but especially non-native English speakers,” said Chad Wright, case manager, OSMPR. “These translations will increase visibility, accessibility and transparency related to the process for both the survivors and the respondents so that students can feel confident that they will be taken seriously. By developing these materials in a variety of languages, we are letting students know that we welcome them and will support them.”

The OSMPR is not alone in its desire to reach out to the non-Native English speakers on our campuses. In addition to supporting the vision for this initiative, Penn State Global Programs plans to pilot a new delivery for presenting sexual assault, harassment and misconduct education at its orientation session in which the new translations will be utilized.

Pennsylvania was the first state to debut an “It’s On Us” campaign when Gov. Tom Wolf launched the program in January 2016. “It’s On Us” aims to increase awareness, education and resources that combat sexual assault in schools, colleges and universities.

Last Updated September 22, 2020