Artifact Speech Outline: PSU Timely Warnings

Attention Getter

  • I am nothing. Why? Because I’m a woman.
  • What were you doing on your first weekend here at University Park?

Purpose of Artifact and Rhetorical Situation

Penn State’s “Timely Warnings” are a means of communicating with the entire campus about threats to the safety of the community that have been reported on campus.

  • At University Park, sexual assault, of both known and unknown attackers, is the most common offense reported in the warnings.
  • The warning often provides information about the perpetrator, including their race, sex, and general appearance.
    • This can cause people to make biases and assumptions about the attacker.
  •  In sending out these announcements, the community becomes civically engaged and is made aware of these issues that affect individuals, which in turn, affect the community.

Questions and Claims

Because of the presence of this artifact, people in the community are made aware of issues affecting students on campus, but the reports keep coming.

  • Ideologies Within Artifact
    • Civic Awareness is not enough to stop the problem
      • While the warning serves as a means to identify the issue it, it doesn’t appear people on campus are realizing the issue.
      • Rhetoric is aimed to be “contingent”, meaning the outcome of the rhetoric depends on the audience’s reaction.
      • While the warning serves as a notice that instances like sexual assault take place on campus fairly regularly, the notifications continue, and the issue is not stopped.
      • While the warnings provide safety tips, they are all generalized.
        • Not directly relevant in terms of the issue
    • Are these timely warnings really “timely”?
      • The notifications are sent out after an issue is reported, not after an issue has occurred.
      • On August 30, a forcible sexual offense by a known attacker was reported, but the event took place on August 20.
      • While the report was filed and citizens were made aware, the time lapse of one week makes it easier for people to brush the issue aside.
      • The lack of kairos makes it easier as an audience to disregard the information.
    • Despite the fact that threats to community should encourage citizens to look to overturn the issue to protect their own safety, the audience is not engaged in the factual information.
      • The reports offer facts about the attacker, location of attack, and  safety tips for the issue.
      • The artifact speaks to inform, but it does not seek to engage with the issue, which is the real problem.

Broader Context

While reported sexual assault occurs at about a weekly rate in State College, PA, there is a growing problem of rape across the nation.

  • In addition to the actual instances themselves, speaking out about the issue has become a problem in mass media.
    • Assumption that all victims are women
    • Assumption that victims encouraged the attacks against them based on the way they were dressed, how intoxicated they were, promiscuity
    • Assumption that victims who speak out are liars
      • Belief that men have more to lose
    • Attackers are left blameless or shortened sentences
      • Brock Turner
  • Sexual assault controversies raise concerns on gender differences, equality, and stigmas
    • Gender differences – some people feel that women lie about rape
      • Natural inclination to distrust women – Why?
      • View that women are deceitful – femme fatale
    • Equality – Does the status of the victim or the attacker make a person more believable?
      • People often sympathize with someone they know or someone beloved in the public eye.
        • Bill Cosby
      • View of women questioned because they are viewed as “liars”
        • Is this way women have less leadership positions in big business?
        • Idea that women are fickle
    • Stigmas – Victims who come forward are looked down upon for “ruining life” of attacker
      • By denying the fact they were violated, victims are forced to accept a lesser dignity and worth
      • People choose to believe the issue doesn’t happen because of the complications in proving the attack


  • Acknowledge and Respond
    • False allegations of rape are between 2% and 8% of all reported instances.

One thought on “Artifact Speech Outline: PSU Timely Warnings

  1. I think that this speech will go well. I hope that you don’t need my advice, because I really have nothing for you. The one thing that I would say is to make sure that you connect the broader context back to your artifact. It seems almost disconnected from the timley warning. But, you do you. Good luck.

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