Appendix M



Curricular and co-Curricular Learning Pathways to Promote
the Well-Being and Safety of First-Year Undergraduate Students


Implementation: Upon Approval by the President


On July 2, 2014, President Eric Barron announced his appointment of the Task Force on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.  After a six-month long extensive inquiry, the Task Force Report was completed and presented to the President, on January 23, 2015.  On February 16, 2015, President Barron publicly accepted all eighteen of the recommendations made by the Task Force stating that “everyone has merit and when combined the actions will present a strong and comprehensive response to sexual violence” Further, the President emphasized that they provide “a roadmap for moving Penn State into a national leadership position in the struggle to address sexual misconduct” (see The administration has used this roadmap for the implementation of numerous enhanced and new policies and practices surrounding the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The President aims to have Penn State  be a national leader in dealing with these issues and enhancing the well-being and safety of its students.

Of the Task Force recommendations, #13 read as follows: “The Task Force recommends the creation and implementation of various educational experiences that reflect their [students’] evolving developmental needs during the course of their college experience, including a required course for all first-year students that explores issues of student well-being and safety, with an emphasis on building positive relationships and preventing sexual misconduct and alcohol misuse.”

From this recommendation emerged the creation of the Special Joint Committee on First-Year Students’ Well-Being and Safety, originally charged by Faculty Senate Chair Ansari on June 18, 2015 and recharged by Faculty Senate Chair Strauss on August 28, 2016. The current charge states that the Joint Special Committee is: “to develop curricular and/or co-curricular learning pathways with respect to educational programming on well-being and safety beginning with first-year students. Such programming should emphasize the building of positive relationships and the prevention of alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct. To help ensure financial well-being, issues of financial literacy can be addressed as well. To this end, the Special Joint Subcommittee should consult and maintain liaisons with and provide any reports to the University Faculty Senate Standing Committees on Curricular Affairs, Student Life, and Undergraduate Education.”

Please Note:  The Curricular and Co-Curricular Learning Pathways are dealt with in two separate reports. Since curriculum is the purview of the faculty, it will be presented in a companion Legislative Report and the complementary and collaborative co-curricular recommendations, which are aimed towards the administration, are presented in this  current Advisory/Consultative Report. The rationale, guiding principles, overarching goal and objectives, and context are identical in both reports.


The issues of students’ well-being and safety (as identified in the charge as the prevention of alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct), as well as concerns about financial literacy, are timely and of critical importance, as described below.

Well-being and Safety (Focusing on Sexual Misconduct and Alcohol Misuse):

A critical issue of well-being and safety for students on all campuses throughout the United States, as well as at Penn State, is sexual assault and its major contributing factor of alcohol misuse (Abbey, Ross, McDuffie, & McAuslan, 1996; Caldeira, et al, 2009). As noted in the report released by the White House Council on Women and Girls on Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action (January, 2014), campus sexual assault is a particular problem with 1 in 5 women being sexually assaulted while in college (although sexual assaults can happen to anyone no matter their sex/gender). A particular risky time for the occurrence of campus sexual assault is the first few months of a new academic year, referred to as the “Red Zone”, when campus sexual assaults spike among new incoming women (Kimble, Neacsiu, & Flack, 2008). Sexual assaults are most often committed by someone the victim knows and fueled by alcohol consumption (Abbey, et al., 1996) and occur in students’ free or leisure time (Murphy, Hoyme, Colby, & Borsari, 2006). Excessive alcohol consumption is a significant challenge on many U.S. college campuses, including Penn State (

At Penn State, for example, about one-half of the students (51.3%) who responded to a 2015 student drinking survey reported engaging in high-risk drinking behavior (consuming four or more drinks in a two-hour period for women and five or more drinks in a two-hour period for men).  Approximately one-quarter of students (23.9%) had engaged in high-risk drinking 3 or more times during a two-week period (Penn State Student Affairs Research and Assessment, 2015:  Students who report high levels of alcohol use also have higher rates of negative consequences, including blacking out, getting hurt or injured, and having policy and legal violations.  Studies also find an association between drinking and risky and non-consensual sexual experiences (Caldeira et al., 2009). Nationally more than 100,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 reported having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex during the preceding year (Hingson et al., 2002).

The 2015 Penn State Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey (see Summary Report: University Park attached) reports some alarming findings specific to Penn State. The following percentages of undergraduate students at University Park reported sexual assault involving non-consensual penetration or attempts at penetration (Women- 27.5%, Men -6.2%, LGBTQ – 25.7%; Overall – 18.1%). Unfortunately only about one-half (54.8%) of the students surveyed reported that they know how to prevent sexual misconduct and only about one in ten of them are “very” to “extremely aware” of the campus resources that target prevention and treatment of sexual assault. Further, less than two-thirds (62.3%) of students believe that Penn State is “likely” or “very likely” to “take action to address factors that may have led to sexual misconduct.” These findings should be seen as a call to action to us all to provide more comprehensive and accessible education to every undergraduate student regarding sexual misconduct and alcohol misuse. Further, the federal government has mandated that sexual assault prevention programs be conducted on all college campuses that receive federal funding. Underscoring this mandate, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has asserted that schools have a duty to develop comprehensive plans for educating students about sexual assault. Research has provided insights into the types of educational interventions that are effective (Anderson & Whiston, 2005; Banyard & Moynihan, 2007; Lonsway & Kothari, 2000). The factors of such programs include 1) being longer in duration and focused, 2) having multiple sessions presented across a student’s college career, 3) having clear goals and measurable objectives, 4) include content addressing attitudes and beliefs as well as factual information, 5) describing specific risk reduction techniques (e.g., responsible use of alcohol, bystander interventions), and 6) being tailored to the needs of specific audiences (e.g., males, student-athletes, fraternity and sorority members, LGBT individuals, people of differing races and ethnicities). Research from programming/coursework at other campuses, as well as conducted with courses at Penn State (BBH 146, RPTM 120), has demonstrated that attitudes and risk behaviors related to  sexual assault can be significantly changed to enhance well-being and safety.  Yet, it has been generally observed on college campuses that “sexual assault prevention programming remains a confused, scattered, and sporadic enterprise with little scientific underpinning” (Anderson & Whiston, 2005). We aim to make sure that this is not the case for our university.

Financial Literacy:

Another critical issue for students on college campuses throughout the United States, including  Penn State, is the need for financial literacy education.  The U.S. Department of Treasury, on behalf of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, published a report on Opportunities to Improve the Financial Capability and Financial Well-being of Postsecondary Students (2015) stating that at the end of March 2015: 1) outstanding federal student loan debt stood at over $1.1 trillion, not including private student loan debt, and 2) there were more than 41 million federal student loan borrowers (U.S. Department of Education 2015).  More specifically, in 2014-15, 10,029 baccalaureate students graduated from Penn State with loan debt, representing approximately 64% of graduates. The average debt among those who borrowed was $37,623. This compares to Pennsylvania and national rates of average debt at $28,950 and $29,661, respectively, for 75% and  69% of graduating students, respectively. For a standard 10-year repayment plan, the monthly loan repayment would be $425 per month.

In addition to making choices about paying for college expenses, young adults, often for the first time, make a number of other important financial decisions in college, such as whether to secure credit cards. As students graduate and transition to the workplace, they are faced with other complex financial decisions such as budgeting, buying a car and/or house, securing health insurance, saving for retirement, and a series of other complex consumer spending decisions.  These types of decisions may have a long-term impact on their future, making the college years an important opportunity to address these critical issues in financial literacy. Financial education is one strategy to equip college students with the skills and resources needed to make informed decisions regarding their money management, college access and completion, as well as other lifelong financial health issues.

Given this background literature and information our Special Committee focused on developing recommendations for both curricular and co-curricular learning pathways since these should be complementaryto and integrated  with one another. Thus, they should share the same guiding principles, goal and objectives as described below.


  • The topics emphasized in the charge (i.e., alcohol misuse, sexual misconduct, and financial literacy) are the ones addressed by these recommendations.
  • Alcohol misuse/ sexual misconduct and financial literacy are different issues that deserve separate attention but can be addressed collaboratively when appropriate.
  • Learning pathways must be accessible to all Penn State students at all locations (including World Campus).
  • Learning pathways must be flexible so that they are appropriate for and adaptable to differing campuses/locations, as well as differing needs of students.
  • Learning pathways must be feasible. In addition to any new initiatives, courses and programs that are already in place will be built upon and enhanced and thus unnecessary duplication will be avoided.
  • Curricular and co-curricular learning pathways should complement one another and be integrated.
  • Learning pathways will be aligned with Penn State’s on-going efforts in related areas (described under “Placing the Recommendations into Context”).
  • Learning pathways will be aligned with federal mandates, state laws, and Penn State policies for the protection of student safety and enhancement of well-being.
  • Penn State Values will be an integral part of all learning pathways.
  • The optimization of student engagement will be a goal.
  • Recognition of and respect for diversity will be imbedded in the learning pathways.
  • Learning pathways will be systematically assessed.


The recommended learning pathways would consist of collaborative curricular and co-curricular opportunities that would facilitate students’ examination of effective ways to engage in positive relationships with others and with one’s community. More specifically, they would focus on the areas of  alcohol use/misuseand sexual relationships/sexual misconduct. They would highlight the exploration and application of the Penn State Values vis-à-vis the enhancement of personal, interpersonal, and community well-being and safety.

Overarching Goal and Objectives

Goal: To sustain and enhance a positive and supportive Penn State environment that promotes healthy relationships and enhances well-being and safety while reducing the risks involved with alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct.

Objectives: The objectives for learning pathways to reach this goal are based upon the results of research of effective education to prevent sexual misconduct and alcohol misuse (Anderson & Whiston, 2005; Banyard & Moynihan, 2007; Lonsway & Kothari, 2000). They include:

  • Increase awareness of and knowledge about risks to well-being and safety, particularly posed through alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct.
  • Increase awareness of and knowledge about strategies and resources for enhancing well-being and safety (e.g., positive relationships and constructive community engagement) and for reducing risk (e.g., alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct).
  • Explore and examine how intrapersonal factors (e.g., attitudes, beliefs, self-efficacy, etc.), interpersonal factors (e.g., relationships, networks, support systems, etc.) and/or community factors (e.g., engagement, cultural awareness, Penn State Values, etc.) affect alcohol use/misuse and sexual relationships/misconduct.
  • Develop skills (e.g., communication, decision-making, assertiveness, critical thinking, healthy use of free time, etc.) that will enhance well-being and safety and reduce risk.

Overview of Current Co-Curricular Programming:

There are numerous co-curricular activities that exist university-wide for students to engage in before from the time of their acceptance at Penn State and throughout their college careers. The Presidential Task Force found that from 2010 through 2013, 273 educational programs on sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic or relationship violence were offered at University Park, and another 415 programs were conducted at other Penn State campuses. Many of the current co-curricular activities have defined learning outcomes that align with the goal and objectives enumerated in this report and with the academic mission of the institution, and are supported by college student development theory (Pascarella &Terenzini, 2005; Upcraft & Gardner, 2004).

The amount of programming, however, was not necessarily matched by rigor. An in-depth analysis by the Presidential Task Force’s Education & Training subcommittee concluded that these many and varied programs lacked clearly stated or measurable goals, had not been tailored or adapted to particular populations, were poorly attended, and were not assessed for effectiveness.  Most students reported, through focus groups and survey research, that they rarely attended such programs voluntarily. They claimed that when they do attend, it usually has been mandated due to a residence hall floor meeting, a fraternity or sorority obligation, or a program offered by a student organization to which they belong.

Thus, the Presidential Task Force found “insufficient consistency in the programmatic effort on sexual assault, including alcohol misuse, from year-to-year and campus-to-campus.” Further, the Task Force found “no intentional or systematic programming effort at the University to engage students in these issues throughout their college ‘life cycle.’ As students develop cognitively, emotionally, and socially, and as their legal context changes at the age of twenty-one, such life cycle programming, tailored to their various developmental stages, could be beneficial.” In addition, the Task Force found “insufficient ongoing assessment to determine the effectiveness of the various educational experiences.”  For these reasons, the Task Force included among its recommendations a call for a thorough reconsideration of these many well-intentioned efforts aimed at raising awareness and understanding among students.

The various types of co-curricular programming are described below:

SAFE and AWARE Online Modules

SAFE and AWARE are two interactive online modules that deal with alcohol use and sexual assault. The University requires all incoming, first-year students to complete Penn State SAFE (Student Alcohol Feedback and Education module) and Penn State AWARE (A Relationship and Sexual Violence Awareness Learning module) before arriving for classes. The University began requiring SAFE and AWARE completion in summer 2011.  Approximately 14,000 students take the modules each year.  Both SAFE and AWARE feature student narrators who provide information and tips designed to help first-year students make good decisions, and be healthy and safe during their time at Penn State. University Health Services, Center for Women Students, Office of Student Conduct, Residence Life, Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response, and Student Legal Services collaborate on the content for SAFE and AWARE.

Penn State SAFE is a 1-hour module that includes personalized normative feedback, a research-based strategy.  Students complete an alcohol-use survey and receive immediate feedback comparing their drinking to campus drinking norms.  The module provides information about a variety of health-related issues including the effects of alcohol on the mind and body, blacking out, mixing alcohol and prescription medication, and the link between alcohol and sexual violence.  The module includes information about Penn State alcohol policies and related consequences, and state and local laws related to alcohol consumption.

Penn State AWARE is designed to help students learn facts about relationship violence, sexual violence, stalking and sexual harassment, as well as develop practical skills to keep safe. AWARE is a 30-minute module that includes several short videos about consent, risk reduction strategies, and the importance of seeking medical help following an assault. Students learn about a variety of relevant University resources.

Overall, student feedback about these programs is positive. Students consistently report high levels of agreement when asked about whether or not the programs increased their knowledge about alcohol use and sexual violence. A randomized control trial of SAFE, conducted in 2011 by Dr. John Hustad from Penn State Hershey, showed that students who received Penn State SAFE reported drinking less alcohol on a typical drinking occasion than students who did not receive SAFE (i.e., the waitlist control group) and this difference was statistically significant. There was a trend for students in the SAFE group to report fewer alcohol-related consequences at follow-up versus the waitlist control group.

Starting in summer 2015, Student Affairs Research and Assessment began an evaluation project for AWARE. Students completed a pre-program and post-program survey about attitudes toward rape. Results of the evaluation show statistically significant differences in attitudes toward rape when comparing pre and post program responses.

In spite of strong evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of SAFE and AWARE, students consistently provide feedback indicating the programs are not engaging and are too long.  Unfortunately, most students participating in the Task Force focus group luncheon in November 2015 said the online modules have little impact. Some described them as too long or uninteresting; others complained that they were neither interactive, nor relatable. And more than a few expressed the belief that these topics simply do not apply to them; their attention to these educational offerings was limited at best.  Based on this feedback, both modules should be improved to integrate more up-to-date multimedia components that better address the expectations and needs of young adult learners.  A committee desinated to make improvements in the modules met with Penn State Public Media to discuss modifications and have been provided with a proposal. If funds are allocated for the 2017-2018    fiscal year, the recommended modifications can be in place for implementation in the summer of 2018.

Recommendation 1: The University should allocate the funds needed to update and enhance SAFE and AWARE.

New Student Orientation  (NSO)

The topic of student well-being and safety is discussed throughout the New Student Orientation curriculum at University Park. An introduction to the topics is provided in the “Welcome to Penn State” session, the individual topics are discussed more in depth with both students and parents/family members in breakout sessions throughout NSO. Student sessions are presented by Orientation Leaders, trained peer leaders, while sessions for parents and family members are presented by faculty and staff. Subject-matter and functional-area experts serve on content development committees that generate outlines, scripts, and talking points for each of the sessions highlighted below.

The student session, Smart & Safe at State, was developed by staff from the following areas:  Bystander Intervention, Campus Recreation, Center for Women Students, CAPS, Student Conduct, University Health Services, and University Police.  The following topics are discussed with students:

  • General Safety Tips: Blue lights, Night map, Safe Walk, “Piggybacking,” Enter University Police number into your cell phone
  • Timely Warnings & Crime Alerts: Required by Clery Act to notify campus community to certain crimes in a timely manner to aid in the prevention of similar crimes; Come in the form of email alerts, flyers, or PSUAlert messages
  • Title IX Reporting: University definitions; Reporting resources available to students who experience/witness sexual harassment, assault or violence; Consent; Victim services; Center for Women Students; Student Conduct; University Health Services; CAPS
  • Bystander Intervention: Tips to educate and empower students to safely identify and respond in risky or abusive situations
  • Health & Wellness: Services provided by UHS, CAPS, and Campus Recreation
  • Alcohol/Drug Use & Abuse: Role of RA; RL alcohol policy & related sanctions; Underage drinking law, Public drunkenness; How to intervene when necessary; Buddy system; Signs of alcohol poisoning; Penn State’s Responsible Action Protocol; Student Legal Services

The Presidential Task Force concluded that “the time allotted to both sexual assault and alcohol programming during New Student Orientation falls short of what might be required for the in-depth, targeted, face-to-face, and interactive educational experiences some students claim to appreciate and take seriously.” However, realistically there will never be enough time at NSO to do more than introduce these topics. In addition, students need to hear this information multiple times, at different points during their college careers, and in different contexts. We therefore encourage faculty to include these topics in FYS and FYE whenever possible. Targeted general education courses also will provide students with additional information on these issues.

Recommendation 2: The University should ensure that Smart & Safe at State is included in NSO and ITO (International Student Orientation) programming at all campuses. This material is critical for all students, regardless of the campus that they attend, even while the material may need to be tailored to meet the needs of individual campuses and student backgrounds.

Residence Hall Programs

The Office of Residence Life provides intentional educational opportunities to students living in the residential communities on topics of sexual assault, substance abuse, and financial literacy.  The staff of residence life use a holistic approach to provide education to students through meetings (both individual and group), emails, stall stories, bulletin boards, to more structured programs and presentations.  These efforts primarily reach first-year students living in university housing.

Of all these approaches, 90% of students have reported they receive most of their information from Stall Stories, educational materials that are placed in bathrooms in the halls. (see Appendix B for an example.) (It is important to note that Stall Stories are educationally focused and are therefore different from materials that announce events and activities). Because of the effectiveness in reaching students with this method, we encourage the university to institutionalize this effort, finding resources to make Stall Stories available to the greater university community  in restrooms in all buildings at all campuses. Resources needed for this expansion include costs for stall story holders in the restrooms, printing, and funds for work study students to place the stall stories in the restroom areas.  We recommend that this outreach be consistent across all university locations.

Recommendation 3: The University should expand the use of Residence Life materials, particularly Stall Stories, to strategic university buildings at all locations. This will ensure that these messages reach the broader university population to include faculty, staff, and students not living in university housing.

Residence Life consistently provides programing in support of the goal and objectives of learning emphasized in this report  Residence Life is intentional about the program offerings through their co-curricular learning plans and ensure completion of efforts. These efforts are discussed below.

Stand for State

Stand for State is Penn State’s bystander intervention program, focusing on sexual and relationship violence, mental health concerns, acts of bias, and risky drinking and drug use.  The Stand for State program was established university-wide in January, 2016. Stand for State’s purpose is to create an environment so that everyone plays a role in watching out for each other and is willing to intervene when necessary. This includes knowing and implementing the 3Ds – direct, distract, and delegate – to ensure well-being and safety. Expanding the program’s outreach and training to the entire university community is the key for success in creating this university community norm.

Recommendation 4: The University should ensure that all students, staff, and faculty members have access to Bystander Intervention programming that teaches them the skills to create safer communities for all.

Additional Programing

A wide range of co-curricular programs and activities occur throughout the academic year, so that faculty can incorporate them into their syllabi and course scheduling. Examples of programs brought to campuses include The Vagina Monologues, “Can I Kiss You,” and “A Call to Men.” In addition, at University Park, programs on sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, alcohol use, safety, behavioral threats, healthy relationships, sexual ethics, and body image are presented by staff from Student Health Services, CAPS, the Center for Women Students, the Office of Student Conduct, Residence Life, University Police Services, and Student Affairs generalists, and these are all available for faculty use in their classes or as extra-credit assignments. At other campus locations, Student Affairs staff are available to provide similar programming.

In addition to traditional programming, there are several on-line modules that faculty and staff can access and that can be targeted to World Campus students. These modules include “Students in Distress” and “Relationship and Sexual Violence.” An example of a free service that is already available is Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS). This tool is typically used in the student conduct process, but any student can participate, and faculty are encouraged to use BASICS as a learning tool in the classroom as well. Links to these will be available at the WS Teaching and Learning Tools web site under the Schreyer Teaching and Learning Institute.

Recommendation 5: Throughout the academic year, campus offices and organizations should notify the Well-being and Safety liaison at the Schreyer Teaching and Learning Institute of available co-curricular programming opportunities that can be posted on the  Teaching and Learning Tools web site for faculty use. Faculty members are encouraged to use these offerings as opportunities to enhance what they are teaching in the classroom and to reinforce the messages that students are receiving outside of the classroom.

Recommendation 6: Co-curricular programming focusing on well-being and safety regarding alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct should undergo regular and systematic assessment in meeting the overall goal and the objectives set forth in this report via the processes and procedures that the University has in place to determine the effectiveness of co-curricular programming

Comments about and Suggestions for Implementation:

  • Coordination among the university offices and organizations that sponsor activities and programming regarding alcohol use and sexual misconduct needs to occur in order to facilitate the sharing of ideas, establish consistent messaging, and improve the efficient use of resources, as well as to facilitate coordination with curricular initiatives. The Coalition to Address Relationship and Sexual Violence (CARSV), an advisory group to the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response, could be enhanced to better fulfill all of these responsibilities.
  • A university-wide initiative (like “All In at Penn State”) could be focused on PSU students being SAFE and AWARE with various well-publicized events happening throughout the year.
  • Co-curricular activities/programming should undergo regular and systematic assessment to determine their effectiveness in reaching the goal and objectives set forth in this report. The University Committee on Assessment of Learning, in the Office of Planning and Assessment, is charged to “foster coordination, communication, and collaboration in assessment processes across academic and co-curricular programs, colleges, and campuses,” as well as to “review and facilitate sharing of assessment findings with the University community.” As such, this Committee should be granted the personnel (via relevant committee members) and resources needed to achieve Recommendation #6.
  • Two years subsequent to the approved of the recommendations, a follow-up report should be presented to Faculty Senate regarding implementation and effectiveness.

Overview of Current Financial Literacy Co-Curricular Programming

Financial Literacy efforts at Penn State started in early 2013 as a pilot initiative to promote financial education to adult learners and World Campus students.  Co-Curricular programming, including workshops, webinars and presentations resulted in a successful pilot, but quickly uncovered the need to promote financial literacy to all Penn State students and particularly first year students.  The logic in targeting entering students is to provide an early intervention in promoting positive financial behaviors to prevent students from making costly financial decisions.  The idea of creating a financial literacy center became a strategic focus of the current university administration and became reality in October 2016.  Starting with 2017, the newly approved Financial Literacy and Wellness Center will focus on promoting financial education as follows:

  1. Currently, 40% of the First Year Experience Classes offer a session in financial literacy.  All first year seminar instructors will be invited by the Center to participate in promoting financial education.
  2. The Center will offer one-on-one professional meetings for all students.
  3. The Center will collaborate with colleges to offer peer-to-peer programs across the university.  Currently, Univeristy Libraties and the College of Health and Human Development are invested in offering such services at University Park.
  4. The Center will work with Commonwealth campuses to establish a liaison and offer financial literacy events as needed by each campus.  Technology to offer online workshops and webinars and collaborate to create peer-to-peer programs will also be used.
  5. The Center is developing self-study modules in financial literacy to be used as needed.

Recommendation 7: The University should support the development and offering of a financial literacy online module to be completed by matriculated students before arriving on campus for their first semester. This would be parallel to the SAFE and AWARE modules that students complete before arriving on campus. In addition, financial literacy education should be included in First Year Seminars and First Year Experiences whenever appropriate.

Recommendation 8: : Co-curricular programs focusing on financial literacy should undergo regular and systematic assessment in meeting the overall goal and the objectives set forth in this report via the processes and procedures that the University has in place to determine the effectiveness of co-curricular programming


This is the opportune time to initiate learning pathways at Penn State to improve students’ well-being and safety and to enhance students’ financial literacy since there are other Penn State initiatives that are supportive and with which meaningful collaboration could be established. These include the recognition and diffusion of the Penn State Values, The University’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2020, the recent revisions to the general education curriculum, the expansion of student engagement, the expansion of learning assessment, and the establishment of  the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response.

Penn State Values

Through an inclusive and comprehensive process facilitated by the Office of Ethics and Compliance, the Penn State Community has endorsed a set of values that represent our core ethical aspirations for all our daily activities and actions as students, faculty, staff, and volunteers at Penn State.  These include respect, integrity, responsibility, and community, as well as excellence and discovery. (See: These are certainly core values at the heart of ensuring student well-being and safety, as well as developing financial literacy and would be incorporated into all learning experiences on these topics.

Penn State’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2020

Two of the five thematic priority areas in the Strategic Plan, relevant to students’ well-being and safety, are “Transforming Education” and “Enhancing Health” (see  A particular area of emphasis involving the enhancement of health is the fostering and enabling of wellness “because our university is only as strong as its people” (p. 10). More specifically, the Plan states: “we will invest in innovative, multi-pronged, institution-wide health initiatives that inspire faculty, staff, and students to focus proactively on their physical, mental, and emotional health.” (p.10). This is exactly what the recommendations for improving well-being and safety and enhancing financial literacy would do.

Revised General Education Curriculum

A Task Force, charged to make recommendations for enhancing/revising the general education curriculum, submitted its report to Faculty Senate in April 2015 and received support from the senators for approval of the recommendations. In 2016, further reports were submitted to Faculty Senate and were approved for the implementation regarding the foundation and domain courses in general education, as well as a new requirement for integrative studies. Plans for the assessment of general education courses were also approved.  A new Office for General Education has been established to oversee these recommendations. (See  Recommendations in this current report regarding general education courses would follow the policies, procedures, and practices endorsed by the Office for General Education and the Faculty Senate Committee on Curricular Affairs.

Expansion of Learning Assessment

In 2015, the University added a Learning Outcomes Assessment Office (LOA) to the Office of Planning and Institutional Development under the auspices of the Office of Planning and Assessment ( ) . The LOA Office coordinates University-wide studies of undergraduate and graduate education, including general education assessment. With expanded expectations of and resources for learning assessment, the learning pathways that are recommended in this report can be examined for their effectiveness in reaching the goal and objectives for enhancing students’ well-being and safety, as defined in this report.

The Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response

In August of 2016, the Title IX Office was renamed the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response. ( This Office helps people to report incidents, get help, support a friend, as well as identifying campus resources. Both Paul Apicella, Title IX Coordinator, and Any Cotner, Educational Programs Coordinator, have been instrumental in the preparation of this report and its recommendations.


  1. Examine issues of alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct past the first-year of students’ college careers. For example, how do these issues change once a student moves off-campus or reaches the age of 21? What other co-curricular initiatives should be implemented throughout students’ college careers?
  2. Consider ways that co-curricular initiatives regarding alcohol misuse and sexual misconduct can be better targeted towards high-risk groups, including fraternities, sororities, and student athletes so that every member in these organizations/teams will receive education.
  3. Consider ways that co-curricular learning pathways can be implemented with graduate students.


Abbey, A. (2002). Alcohol-related sexual assault: A common problem among college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement (S14), 118-128.

Anderson, LA., & Whiston, S. C. (2005). Sexual assault education programs: A meta-analytic       examination of the effectiveness. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29(4), 374-388.

Banyard, V. L., & Moynihan, M. M. (2007). Sexual violence prevention through bystander education: An experimental evaluation. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(4),l 463-481.

Caldeira, K.M., Arria, A. M., O’Grady, K. E., Zarate, E. M., Vincent, K. B., & Wish, E.D. (2009). Peospective associations between alcohol anddrug consumption and risky sex among female college students. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 53(2). nihpa115858.

Hingson, R. W., Heeren, T., Zakocs, R. C., Kopstein, A., & Wechsler, H. (2002). Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students: Age 18-24. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 63(2), 136-144.

Lonsway, K. A., & Kothari, C. (2000). First year campus rape education:

Evaluating the impact of a mandatory intervention. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 220–232.

Murphy, J. G., Hoyme, C. K., Colby, S. M., & Borsari, B. (2006). Alcohol consumption, alcohol-related problems, and quality of life among college students. Journal of College Student Development, 47(1), 110-121.

Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students: A third decade of research, Jossey-Bass, CA.

Schewe, P. A., & O’Donohue, W. (1993). Rape prevention: Methodological problems and new directions. Clinical Psychology Review, 19, 667–682.

Upcraft, M. L., Gardner, J. N., & Barefoot, B. O. (2004). Challenging and supporting the first-year student: A handbook for improving the first year of college. Jossey-Bass, IN.


  • Paul; Apicello, Title IX Coordinator
  • Adam Christensen, Director, Student Affairs Research & Assessment
  • Curricular Affairs Committee of Faculty Senate
  • Angela Linse, Executive Director & Associate Dean, Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence
  • Dan Murphy, Director, Student Orientation & Transition Programs
  • Mark Rameker, Senior Director, Residence Life
  • Damon Sims, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Maggie Slattery, Interim Director, Office for General Education
  • Student Life Committee of Faculty Senate
  • Katie Tenney, Coordinator, Stand for State
  • Undergraduate Education Committee of Faculty Senate


  • Martha Aynardi *  Daad Rizk
  • Asad Azemi
  • Linda Caldwell
  • Colleen Connolly-Ahern
  • Amy Cotner
  • Yvonne Gaudelius, Co-chair
  • Katie Jordan
  • Patricia Koch, Co-chair
  • Linda LaSalle
  • Shawn Lichvar
  • Peggy Lorah