Extra Credit Deliberation: How Do We Prevent Sexual Assault At Penn State?

For extra credit, I attended one of Dr. O’Hara’s English 015 Deliberations. It was interesting to see another class do what we did because we’ve been working on it for weeks in advance and have had to put so much time and energy into our deliberations. It was a little different I found out since it was a different class. It was located in a classroom on campus which was much different than ours. They did not have to worry about moving everything and situating yourself to speaking in a different and new environment. However, although hosting our own deliberations at an outside locations was a pain in some ways, I can see why it was done.

Compared to the English 015 deliberation I attended, all of the Honors RCL deliberations were much more professional. The students dressed up for the most part and were overall just better prepared. Also when attending an RCL deliberation, you only attended that one. When I went to the English 015 deliberation, I had the option of choosing one out of two different deliberations. It was nice to have the option of attending two but it also ran into some difficulties. Since there were two deliberations happening at the same time in the same classroom, which itself was not very large, it became difficult to hear at moments. At many times, the students in the other deliberation were louder when speaking than the students in my own and I was drawn to listen to the other.

Just like my own deliberation, these students were expected to create an issue page that is handed out to all participants to give a background of what will be discussed before actually starting the deliberation. I was a little shocked at the length of this info sheet. We were told that ours had to fit on one page of paper, front and back, but nothing more. This became difficult for my group because we struggles to make everything small enough or had to cut some information our completely. However, this info sheet was two pages. The formatting was nice because it did not seem squished together. I liked how they put the overview of each option and the overview of the entire deliberation on the first page. They did not include any information regarding the options until the back of the second page. Even though I liked the idea of all info being held on one sheet, I did really like how this group formatted and spread everything out.

Now getting into the actual deliberation, again it was pretty difficult to hear the prompts every time. What I found interestingly again is that the leaders who were introducing each option did not have any new information to bring to the table before we began discussing. I didn’t like this because I heard the same information as I had just read moments before and had nothing new to add to my arguments. I also noticed throughout all of the options that most people did not have set questions prepared to ask that covered a wide range over the topic.

The first option began with Heightened Security and Surveillance. This was an interesting topic because everyone had different views. Because there were so many different types of people there I got to hear the opinions of not only myself included, Honors kids, but also fraternity boys, sorority girls, athletic students, and many more. There was definitely an overall agreement that something must be done to decrease the amount of sexual assaults we face here on campus. Most people didn’t think that extra lighting around campus, specifically the blue lights, would really help much. However, when mentioned putting them downtown, some opinions changed. The security cameras seemed like a good idea only when placed in public settings. One of the issues with this however is that Penn State would then have to hire more people to view these cameras. Another idea that was discussed was either having more auxiliary police patrolling campus or expanding the police force at night. These two options made the group a little weary. Although it might actually help prevent some sexual offences, most of the group didn’t like it because of the fact that the police might catch people doing other illegal things, for example drinking underage or smoking marijuana.

The second option was Increased Education and Awareness. I actually had to leave early so I only sat in for part of this option and completely missed the last. The main think we touched on in this option was how to spread the discussion to students around campus because most people never think they are going to be involved in a sexual assault in their lives, but it could happen. I mentioned to include a discussion during freshmen orientation. Many liked this idea especially when another student or peer lead the discussion. If faculty or adults try to speak to students about sexual assault, most times the students will just tune them out. However, if a peer who they respect, possibly a Orientation Leader, tells them the truth here at Penn State, it will become real for these students.

Overall, I enjoyed this topic. It was nice to discuss something that wasn’t about energy….. But even though I did not stay the entire time I think the deliberation went well. There were not many empty spaces in discussion because everyone seemed very comfortable discussing. I just feel the leaders should have been more prepared moving into the deliberation.

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