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Witness: State College Raises Awareness About Sexual Violence In New Ways

Penn State sends out a Timely Warning notification about an act of sexual violence on or around campus far too often. While helpful in raising awareness of such a serious, derisive crime, the Timely Warnings only offer brief and often incomplete records of the crimes.

But now, there’s a new tool available to help alter the landscape. Witness: State College is working to promote cognizance in new ways by providing more geographic context to the issue and its individual cases in Centre County.

A website that’s only page is a map of the local area featuring pinpoints, Witness allows victims and witnesses to report the details of sexual violence crimes along with an exact location that gets added to the map. In addition to reports from the public, Witness gathers additional information by also curating data from the State College Police Department, local newspapers, and Penn State.

The map then organizes all of these points from a variety of sources into clusters to show sexual violence’s geographic tendencies. A time filter at the bottom allows users to pick a range of dates they want to see the reported acts from.

In Witness’ about section, it explains its namesake and purpose.

“A witness does not look away from what is in front of them. Witness will not look away from the sexual violence in the State College community.”

By having a publicly accessible database, Witness provides key insight into the local trends of sexual violence, which have been used to make conclusions also posted on the webpage.

Witness has made some interesting conclusions about acts of sexual violence on or around Penn State’s campus from analyzing the data reported. For one, a majority of the assaults that occur during August and January correlate with the syllabus weeks during those months. Additionally, the highest rates of assault on campus occur in either Pollock or East Halls —  home to mostly freshmen. Studying these potential correlational factors provides students, locals, and the police a better understanding of the dangers present.

While acts of sexual violence may unfortunately often go unreported, Witness has helped reduce the extent of the unknown. Anyone who has knowledge of any act of sexual violence is encouraged to report it on Witness’ website to help make State College a more informed and safer community.

About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci is Onward State’s Social Media Manager, a preferred walk-on honors student, and a junior majoring in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. Feel free to follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter and email him at [email protected] to hear the story or if you’re bored and want to chat.

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