Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf speaking with the press. Governor Tom Wolf visited Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Cumberland County Friday, July 31, 2021 to highlight the importance of outdoor spaces to our well-being during the pandemic and announce a plan for Pennsylvania’s state parks of tomorrow (Commonwealth Media Services photo).
Joined by students, advocates and state lawmakers on Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a new four-bill package to build on Pennsylvania’s “It’s On Us PA” sexual assault prevention initiatives.
“Combating sexual assault and violence must be a priority for all of us,” Wolf said during a briefing with reporters.
“We have made a lot of progress in combatting sexual violence and harassment in schools, but we need to do more to ensure all of our students are safe,” Wolf said.
In 2016, Pennsylvania established its own branch of the national “It’s On Us,” an organization aimed at preventing sexual assault on college campuses and at schools, under the Wolf administration. However, Wolf noted that it’s time to do more.
“These four legislative proposals are the next step to preventing assaults and violence and ensuring victims get the help they deserve,” Wolf said.
The four-bill package includes:
- Affirmative Consent Standards (SB 730, HB 1489) – Would require colleges and universities to clear standards of what is consent and what is not.
- Strengthening victim protections (SB 909, HB 1699) – Would require schools to inform victims of their rights and the services available to them and provide protective accommodations, if requested by the victim.
- Educate middle and high school students in Pennsylvania on preventing and recognizing sexual violence, abuse and stalking (SB 785, HB 1490) – Would require schools to provide preventative education for students in grades 7-12.
- Create a task force to gather data on student experiences (SR 122, HR 108) – Would create a task force in grades 6-12 and in colleges and universities, as well as direct the joint State Government Commission to gather data to improve policies and identify problems.
Wolf called on the Legislature to take “quick action” on the bills, confirming that he would sign them when they arrived at his desk.
“When It is in fact on all of us to do our part,” Wolf said.
In a statement Monday afternoon, the Pennsylvania Commission for Women applauded the Wolf administration and the General Assembly for their efforts to combat sexual assault and violence.
“The Pennsylvania Commission for Women is grateful for this new legislation that will help mitigate sexual misconduct on campus. This legislation has the power to protect so many young women and students who are at risk,” Pennsylvania Commission for Women Executive Director, Moriah Hathaway said. “We are proud to support the It’s On US PA campaign and encourage everyone to take the pledge. We will continue to work with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly to advocate for women and girls in Pennsylvania.”
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