HARRISBURG, Pa. — Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes spoke on Wednesday about Temple’s commitment to fight sexual assault on college campuses. He, Vice President of Services Kayla Martin and several other members of Temple Student Government and its Parliament, travelled to Pennsylvania’s capitol building on Wednesday to participate in a press conference with several legislators and Gov. Tom Wolf.
More than 30 students represented Temple at the press conference, outnumbering students from at least 12 other schools that attended.
Wolf opened up the press conference by talking about the possible threat to Title IX protections from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVoss.
He then outlined a package of six bills legislators proposed as part of the state’s commitment to the national It’s On Us campaign.
The bills would include:
- Expand the scope, authority, and capacity of the Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools, which collects data on violence and creates anti-violence strategies and policies, to support both K-12 and postsecondary institutions and monitor compliance with existing requirements related to sexual violence prevention and response. (HB1752 sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback and SB870 sponsored by Sen. Vincent Hughes)
- An annual “report card” for sexual violence and harassment in the state’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities.
- Create an anti-violence and anti-harassment policy for K-12 schools that aligns requirements related to bullying, hazing, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, and other issues. (HB1754 sponsored by Rep. Dan Miller and SB872)
- Colleges and universities must adopt a policy that requires “affirmative consent” — or a verbal ‘yes’ — when dealing reports of sexual violence. Middle and high schools must directly address consent in health education.
- Anonymous reporting must be available for students at colleges and universities.
- Students in colleges or universities cannot be punished for alcohol or substance use when reporting sexual assault.
Valerie Harrison, the senior adviser to the president for compliance, said Temple’s policy already includes two parts of the proposed package: anonymous reporting and amnesty for people who report sexual assault.
She said the legislations “confirms [Temple] is on track” with how it addresses sexual assault.
Mann-Barnes, the only student invited to speak during the press conference, talked about TSG’s planned efforts increase student education and awareness around sexual assault. He is also the vice president of Student Activists Against Sexual Assault at Temple.
“It ends with us,” he said, using the slogan TSG will use during its planned events for a Sexual Assault Awareness Week next week.
“Together we can and will end sexual violence,” he said.
Among the students standing with TSG were other Temple students who are not affiliated with student government.
Madison Gray, a senior political science and global studies major who is interning in Harrisburg for the semester, said she was encouraged by the legislation and show of support from students at the press conference.
Harrison said the number of Temple students at the press conference “separated us from the pack.”
“It’s a good feeling in a sea of bad news,” Gray said. “The more people we have…the more likely we are to see things happen, we’re more likely to see things change.”