Equity

Let’s make Penn State affordable, safe, and accepting of students of all backgrounds — while increasing administrative accountability. 

Accountability for implementing equity task force and commission recommendations

Administrators empanel numerous task forces and commissions on anti-racism, sexual violence, policing, food and housing insecurity, and more, each recommending a host of changes to University policy. But it remains unclear which recommendations are implemented and which are not — and why. We support yearly public, participatory reviews of all recommendations made by Penn State’s task forces and commissions and their implementation statuses.

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Research-backed, community-based sexual violence prevention

While rates of sexual violence on campus remain high, activism by student groups like the Schreyer Gender Equity Coalition and Students Against Sexist Violence highlight the need for increased sexual violence prevention efforts. We must develop modern plans to confront sexual violence in our community, in part by reconvening the 2015 Task Force on Sexual Assault with expanded student representation and a greater focus on structural reform, community-based and restorative responses, and the intersectional nature of sexual violence. We must empower researchers to assess campus climate without administrative influence by participating in the national AAU Sexual Misconduct Survey and publicly releasing our full, de-identified survey data as well as creating a joint tenture-track faculty position in the Gender Equity Center, Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, and the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. And we must support victim survivors by increasing funding for the Gender Equity Center to secure a larger space and expand services and programming.

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Affordable education across campuses

Student anguish over tuition, food, and housing expenses is a University policy choice. We believe in robust, data-driven, and structural solutions to guarantee an affordable education for all Penn State students. For two straight years, Penn State has hiked tuition and housing rates, amidst flat state appropriations and assertions that the University is strapped for cash (external audits pour cold water on these claims). Mitigating financial strain on students and families must go beyond a “no” vote on tuition increases, and instead center sustained, concerted efforts: We must holisticly and publicly review the University budget, particularly administrative spending and the endowment, to reallocate savings towards decreasing tuition and providing direct aid, particularly to lower-income students and families. In concert with more responsible management of the endowment, this will enable increased financial support for students.


Student costs of living are similarly high, leaving basic needs unfulfilled: 35% of students across campuses report food insecurity, and 17% of students at University Park report difficulty in securing housing. We must lower dining costs, expanding housing and food scholarships, and procure more locally-sourced, nutritious options for on-campus sale to counter student food insecurity. To place downward market pressures on high off-campus rents, particularly at University Park, we must expand on-campus housing stock and reducing fees. And, to inform continuous and long-term efforts against food and housing insecurity, we must complete regular cross-campus surveys on basic needs using USDA standardized questions.