Penn State marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April with events, programs

Events across the Commonwealth draw attention to sexual assault and its survivors and what can be done to stop it
logo for Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is marking Sexual Assault Awareness month this April with a range of events and initiatives across the University that offer educational opportunities, focus attention on the issue and bring the community together to stop sexual misconduct.

The month of events follows Sexual Violence Awareness Week during the last week in March. It comes as the University continues to work to prevent sexual misconduct, through initiatives such as Stand for State.

Jennifer Pencek, programming coordinator at the Center for Women Students, said the focus of Sexual Violence Awareness Week and Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to show people that they are not alone in dealing with the impact of sexual violence.

“Support and resources are available, including confidential resources like the Center for Women Students, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Centre County Women's Resource Center,” Pencek said. “Sexual violence absolutely is an issue that each and every person should make a priority to address. This is not a woman's issue. It is not a man's issue. This is everyone's issue and all of our business. Through the diverse events at the end of March and in April, we want to shine the light on sexual violence and empower people to learn more about everything from healthy sexuality and supporting one another to ways to safely intervene to help other people.”

Paul Apicella, the University's Title IX coordinator, said the month is "a fantastic opportunity for us to engage people on an issue that affects far too many members of our community." 

"Our hope is that the events that are planned throughout the month will address issues of sexual violence in an impactful way, so that we can continue to develop a campus culture that is aware of the dynamics of sexual violence and victimization, supportive of survivors, and intolerant toward the environmental factors that can allow these incidents to go unaddressed," Apicella said.

Penn State Altoona

Sex on Campus Health Fair, 3:30-6:30 p.m. March 30, Adler Gym, Features information and presentations about abstinence, contraceptive methods, sexually transmitted infections, sexual decision making, sexual assault, alcohol and other drug use, tobacco cessation and more.

Lunch and Learn (in conjunction with Family Services, Inc.), 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 14, Devorris Downtown Center, Robert Matchock, associate professor of psychology, will discuss the neurobiology of sexual assault and the effect trauma has on victims. Terry Lingenfelter, retired Logan Township police chief, will discuss the effects of not being believed on victims.

Jeans for Justice, April 15, 22 and 29, Faculty and staff can donate $5 on each of these Fridays to wear jeans to raise awareness of the issue of sexual violence and to show support for survivors of sexual violence. Those who donate will be given a pin with miniature-blue jeans that was assembled by members of the psychology club.


Penn State Beaver

Screening of “The Hunting Ground,” 5 p.m. April 4, the Student Union Building Auditorium, “The Hunting Ground” follows two rape survivors as they pursue justice and undergraduate education, despite continued harassment. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and has inspired changes in college campus policies.


Penn State Berks

Stand for State Bystander Training, 1-2:30 p.m. March 30, Room 3 Luerssen Building, Stand for State promotes the use of bystander intervention in preventing sexual and relationship violence. The bystander intervention program was created by Green Dot, a national leader in violence prevention education. The key tactics for intervening and removing someone from harm’s way are direct, delegate and distract. Penn State faculty, staff and students can register at

Sex in the Dark program, 5:15 p.m. April 5, Perkins Student Center Auditorium, “Sexperts” from Planned Parenthood and other organizations will answer anonymous questions from students about sex and relationships. The question-and-answer session will be held with the lights out, but there will be glow sticks available. This program is open to students and is sponsored by Penn State Berks Health Services.

Sexual Assault Awareness Program, 7–8:30 p.m. April 5, Penn State Room, Penn State Berks Police Officer Valerie Fisher will present a Sexual Assault Awareness Program, offering suggestions, tips and preventive measures to students to help them reduce their risk of becoming a victim of a sexual assault. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation. This program is open to current students and is sponsored by Penn State Berks Police Services.

Stay SAFE program, 6-8 p.m. April 12, Penn State Room, The Stay SAFE, or Self-Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange, Program, which is designed to help members of the campus community become more aware of and familiar with basic self-defense concepts, will be held for students. This session of the Stay SAFE program will be taught by Penn State Berks Police Officer Anna Smith, a certified Stay SAFE instructor. The two-hour course is geared toward adult and teenage women but is not limited to female participants. The class will include a short introductory video and 1.5 hour physical self-defense familiarization presentation. This program is open to current students and is sponsored by Penn State Berks Police Services.

Free HIV screenings, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. April 13, Perkins Student Center Multipurpose Room, Health Services will hold free HIV screenings. The screenings will be performed using oral swabs, while supplies last, and results will be available in 30 minutes. This program is open to current students and is sponsored by Penn State Berks Health Services.

Screening of “The Hunting Ground,” 7 p.m. April 13, Perkins Student Center Multipurpose Room, Stand for State is working with Berks Women in Crisis to air the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which follows two rape survivors as they pursue justice and undergraduate education, despite continued harassment. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and has inspired changes in college campus policies.

Throughout the month, Health Services will hold free chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings for current students. No appointment is necessary. For more information, visit Health Services in Room 8 of the Perkins Student Center or call 610-396-6075.


Penn State Harrisburg

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. April 5, Vartan Plaza, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” asks participants to walk one mile in high-heeled shoes. As preventive education, this event helps men understand and appreciate women’s experiences, aims to challenge and change perspectives, improve gender relationships and decrease the potential for violence. Participants can bring their own shoes; and shoes will be available on a first-come-first-served basis the day of the event. For more information, contact Betsy Parlett at [email protected], Tim Lengel at [email protected] or Lisa Hipkins at [email protected]. This event is funded by Penn State Harrisburg Commission for Women, Residence Life and the Penn State University Commission for Women.

Human Trafficking/Sexual Exploitation, 11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m. April 14, Gallery Lounge, Olmsted Building, Timothy M. Palmbach, an expert at using DNA to end sex trafficking around the world, will speak about biometrics and DNA and the ongoing fight against human trafficking. Palmbach is an associate professor and chair of the forensic science department at the University of New Haven and the executive director of the Institute of Forensic Science in a University of New Haven forensic science lab. He served 22 years with the Connecticut Department of Public Safety, retiring as a major in charge of the Division of Scientific Services. The event is open to the entire campus community.

In addition to the presentation, Women At Risk, International (WAR) and She's Somebody's Daughter "Beautiful Exchange" will be selling jewelry in the Olmsted Lobby 9 a.m.-4 p.m.  (For more information about the groups, go to:  She's Somebody's Daughter website is and their "Our Beautiful Exchange" direct site is


Penn State Hazleton

Sexual Assault Awareness Month Kickoff, 12:10 p.m. April 4, Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium, Free T-shirts for students to help launch Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Sexual Assault Awareness ribbons, noon April 5, Upper Butler lobby and Highacres Café, Show your support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month by picking up a ribbon to wear.

STD testing, 11 a.m. April 6, Campus Health Center, Physical Education Building.

Stand for State overview, 6 p.m. April 6, Special Events Room, Highacres Café, Learn more about the University’s bystander intervention program.

Stand for State workshop, 6 p.m. April 7, Special Events Room, Highacres Café, Students will learn how to recognize sexual and relationship violence, and how to safely and effectively learn to interrupt and defuse those situations. Registration required.

The Blame Game, noon, April 8 Highacres Café, Activities to help students recognize and challenge victim-blaming behaviors.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month tabling, noon April 12, Upper Butler lobby, Learn more about sexual assault and how to prevent it.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month essay and photo contest, Week of April 18, Prizes awarded for the best entries. More details to be announced.

STD testing, 2 p.m. April 20, Campus Health Center, Physical Education Building

3D : Tie Dye & Denim 5 p.m. April 21, Outside South Hall, Tie-dye a T-shirt and learn about the worldwide sexual assault awareness effort, Denim Day.

Denim Day, April 27, Wear jeans with a purpose, support survivors, and educate yourself and others about sexual assault. More information at:

For additional information about these events, contact Kristen Corcoran, student activities coordinator, at [email protected] or 570-450-3160.



Penn State Lehigh Valley

Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, noon, April 12, Male faculty, staff and students will don 4-inch red heels for a symbolic walk around campus to take a stand against sexual violence. Interested male faculty, staff and students can register for the event at the campus’ reception desk or by calling 610-285-5000. All are welcome to attend the event and support participants as they walk for the cause. Donations will be accepted. For more information, contact Sharon Neders at 610-285-5000 or [email protected].

Heidi Markow, founder of the Beginning Over Foundation, noon-1:15 p.m. April 1, Room 135 on campus, The mission of the Beginning Over Foundation is to provide individuals and families affected by domestic violence and domestic homicide with the financial support and peer based programs designed to educate, heal, empower, inspire and assist in rebuilding their lives in the face of tragedy.

Penn College

Take Back the Night, 7:30 p.m. April 14 in Rose Street Commons, The event is for survivors, allies and all who seek to put an end to sexual violence. A YWCA Northcentral Pennsylvania speaker will share stories of survival, the college audience will be apprised of community resources and attendees can create luminaria with messages of support or in honor or memory of someone.

That event will be followed by “Glowga” (glow-in-the-dark yoga), where donations will be accepted for the YWCA’s Wise Options program. In addition to monetary contributions throughout the month, items for the women’s shelter, such as toothpaste, body wash and deodorant, are welcome.

Ongoing, Student Affairs will install a consent-themed display of jeans in Madigan Library. In 1992, an 18-year-old student was raped in Italy by her driving instructor, but an Italian Supreme Court judge ruled there was no way the accused could have removed the woman’s jeans without consent. The case became synonymous with cavalier attitudes about sexual assault, igniting global protests and expressions of disgust and solidarity. A half-dozen drop-off boxes are placed around campus through March 31 for the donation of old, clean jeans, which will hang in the library through Finals Week in May.


University Park

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, noon March 28, Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an annual event that draws attention to the issue of sexual violence. In accordance with the saying, "You can't really understand another person's experiences until you've walked a mile in their shoes," men (and women) wear high-heeled shoes and walk through campus. This event helps generate discussion about sexual violence, which will be facilitated by Eve Ensler (creator of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day).

Eve Ensler, 6:30 p.m. March 28, Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center, Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues, V-Day, One Billion Rising and other movements, will speak about violence against women both in the United States and around the world. 

Vulnerable Art and Trauma Survivorship, 2:30 p.m. March 29, Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State feminist art education researcher Hyunji Kwon will make a presentation on trauma and suffering through several works of art created by the subjects of trauma and artists working on others’ trauma. This includes the work of: former "comfort women," sex slaves of the Japanese military during World War II; artists Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman’s project with students at the Western Kentucky University depicting domestic and sexual violence happening in one’s own home; Columbian artist Doris Salcedo’s series focused on trauma caused by political violence; and Korean American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s work on intergenerational and transnational trauma.

“Tough Guise 2” screening, 8 p.m. March 29, Freeman Auditorium, “Tough Guise 2” discusses the social construction of masculinity and how society conditions men to “act like men.” The film goes into detail about how the concept of masculinity contributes to violence in culture.

Stand for State workshop, 2:30-4 p.m. March 30, 233 HUB-Robeson Center, Penn State's Bystander Intervention Initiative, Stand for State, will host a workshop open to all students. The workshop will teach the 3 D's of bystander intervention — direct, distract, delegate.

Sisters on the Runway Fashion Show, 6:30 p.m. March 30, Heritage Hall, Sisters on the Runway, an organization dedicated to preventing domestic and sexual violence, will host its second annual fashion show to benefit the Centre County Women's Resource Center. In addition to the fashion show, the event will feature Penn State a capella groups, dance companies and performers. There will be a raffle and food will be available. 

“Pursuit of Truth” film screening, 7 p.m. March 31, Waring Commons, This documentary tells the story of adult survivors of child sexual abuse seeking justice. Following the screening, the directors of the film will host a discussion with attendees.

Gala benefitting the Centre County Women's Resource Center, 6-8 p.m. April 1, Hintz Family Alumni Center, The gala will benefit the Centre County Women's Resource Center, one side of Hintz will have food and guest speakers while the other side will feature a walk through a survivor's experience with sexual assault.

For more information on the above University Park events, contact Shannon Rafferty, [email protected]

Honoring Survival: Transforming the Spirit, 6:30 p.m. April 5, Memorial Lounge in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Honor the strength and resiliency of survivors of sexual, emotional and physical violence and those who support them in their healing process. Jacklyn Friedman, a writer, performer and activist, will speak at and facilitate the event. Light refreshments will be served. For information, email [email protected] or call 814-863-2027. Sponsored by the Center for Women Students and Peers Helping Reaffirm, Educate and Empower.

What You Really, Really Want: Figuring Out What You Want From Sex and How to Get It! 6:30 p.m. April 6, Garden Room of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Activist Jacklyn Friedman will lead a workshop on creating a sexual mission statement and philosophy and determining what healthy sexuality means to you. RSVP to [email protected] or call 814-863-2027. Sponsored by the Center for Women Students and Peers Helping Reaffirm, Educate and Empower.

Title IX Workshop, 5:30-7 p.m. April 20, Room 233B of the HUB-Robeson Center, Title IX Coordinator Paul Apicella and the Center for Women Students will host a workshop focused on consent, including how the University defines consent in the context of sexual activity.

Title IX Workshop, 5:30-7 p.m. April 27, Room 233B of the HUB-Robeson Center, Title IX Coordinator Paul Apicella will host a Q&A, providing information and answering questions about the University's policies and procedures for addressing issues of sexual violence, as well as the resources and support services that are available to survivors.

Stand for State is planning three-hour training programs on bystander intervention at University Park on the following dates in April:

  • 2:30 to  5:30 p.m. April 13, 129C HUB-Robeson Center

What to expect at the workshop:

  • Learn warning signs of sexual and relationship violence
  • Learn how to safely and effectively practice to interrupt and defuse potentially risky situations
  • Consider values in regards to personal responsibility to intervene
  • Group activities
  • Learn how everyday choices can contribute to creating a campus where safety for all is a priority, and everyone plays a role in watching out for each other

Students who attend will become Stand for State Student Ambassadors. 

Students can sign up at Snacks will be provided.

Workshops are also planned at other campuses. Student can look up the availability at their campus here:


Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Clothesline Project, April 4-8, noon - 1:30 p.m. each day, around campus, An interactive and physical display to be moved around campus over the course of the week. Shirts of various colors, representing groups of victims, are hung on display.

Stand For State Student Workshop, 3-4:30 p.m. April 6, ARB Gym 102, Student Affairs will host a bystander intervention workshop focused on students and the part they can play. Students must preregister by emailing Jackie Warnick-Piatt, student activities coordinator, at [email protected].

Take Back The Night, 5:30 p.m. April 12, Downtown Wilkes-Barre, In conjunction with other local educational intuitions, Penn State Wilkes-Barre students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend the Take Back The Night rally. Campus Counselor Sarah Luvender will speak about the Stand For State initiative. Students, faculty and staff interested in attending should email Luvender at [email protected].

To Write Love On Her Arms, 7 p.m. April 18, Kirby Center Wilkes-Barre), Founder Jamie Tworkoski and special guest singer Matt Wertz will educate attendees on the non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms. Tworkoski founded TWLOHA in 2006 and dedicated the non-profit to helping those who suffer from depression, addiction, self-injury and suicidal tendencies. Penn State Wilkes-Barre has received a block of free tickets available to students by emailing Suzanne Attanasio, campus nurse, at [email protected].

Penn State York

Candlelight Vigil, 5 p.m. April 14, lobby of the John J. Romano Administration Building, The Penn State York Council on Family Relations Club, students in Human Development and Family Studies, will hold will hold the annual candlelight vigil to show diligence and commitment to preventing child abuse and doing the right thing. The event is open to the campus and community. Deb Harrison, director of the York County Children’s Advocacy Center, will speak, followed by a vigil and recitation of a pledge on preventing child abuse outside.