State of State Hosts Penn State’s Annual Fall Conference at HUB | University park campus news


Penn State hosted its annual fall conference at the Flex Theater at the HUB-Robeson Center on Wednesday night, where presenters discussed topics ranging from rape culture, Greek life, dogs to assistance and mini-horses in separate speeches.

The goal of the state state is “to bring together passionate change agents who can make [the] stronger and more efficient community, ”according to its website.

At each conference, State of State invites students, faculty, alumni and “community leaders” to discuss issues facing Penn State and State College, and Wednesday’s event brought together about 10 people.

After the presentation of each speaker, tables held breakout sessions where participants discussed what was presented. The panelists had their own tables and also held small group discussions.

Yvette Wilson, acting director of the Penn State Center for Gender Equity, examined rape culture in her presentation and said it can be perpetuated by rape jokes and victim blaming.

Wilson said the authors should be faced.

“Tell them, ‘Hey, you know, that’s not a very appropriate statement, I would appreciate that. It’s not a joke. It’s not funny. You know, what, if there is. have a survivor nearby? ‘”Wilson said.

If someone opens up and says they’re a survivor, Wilson said the person on the receiving side should do three things.

First of all, thank them for bringing it up.

“I have people all the time who will say, you know, ‘I never said the word rape out loud,’ and just being able to say that can be a huge, huge … their shoulders, “Wilson mentioned.

Second, believe their story.

“It’s not your job to decide whether they have enough evidence to bring criminal proceedings or enough evidence for a Title IX investigation,” Wilson said. “Because at that point, what they share with you is what happened to them.”

Finally, check with them.

“Maybe later that day, ‘Did you eat today?’ [and] a few days later, ‘How are you?’ “Wilson said.

Wilson said Penn State should expand sexual violence prevention education during the four years a student spends at Penn State.

“Right now we have an education through [New Student Orientation], and that’s early in your freshman year, ”Wilson said. “And then we expect students to not only remember it, but continue to be able to apply it every year – every four years. And I just don’t think that’s realistic, especially for information that is so critical, so important. “

Students will then begin to remember their training and “build upon those skills,” Wilson said, which could affect a real cultural shift.

Speakers at the Penn State of State annual conference in fall 2021 will be in attendance for the question-and-answer session at the event on Wednesday, November 18, 2021.

The next speaker, TJ Echeverria, board member of Penn State’s Interfraternity Council, said Greek Life carries a “stigma” as a way of life – with partying at the center.

Echeverria (senior public relations) said “being Greek” is more than just a party.

“There are many philanthropic initiatives and professional development opportunities that come with membership,” said Echeverria.

Poor portrayals in Hollywood and in the media contribute to these stigmas, according to Echeverria.

When the news covers Greek Life, Echeverria said he’s “much more likely to focus on the rare scandal or unfortunate event rather than focus on [Greek Life’s] philanthropic efforts or volunteer opportunities. “

Echeverria said THON is a major beneficiary of Greek Life, and the first THON was created by Bill Lear – a former chairman of the Interfraternity Council.

“THON has always been deeply rooted in the Greek community,” said Echeverria.

Echeverria said he was “very lost” during his first year until he realized he would find his home in a fraternity.

“I grew up as a professional, as a leader and as a human in general,” Echeverria said. “I made lifelong friendships. All of these things come naturally in the process.”

The third speaker, Susan Lechtanski, director of marketing at Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, is a volunteer program assistant with Roar for More, a state college service dog training group that is a branch of Susquehanna Service Dogs.

Lechtanski made his presentation with Kelp, a black Labrador retriever, at his feet.

Roar for More trains dogs to help people with disabilities, according to Lechtanski.

Lechtanski told the story of a Penn State student previously confined to a wheelchair. Their assistance dog Zola opens and closes the doors, helps them dress and supports them when they walk.

“Zola gave [them their] independence, ”Lechtanski said.

Lechtanski said she cried when she saw the student walk through the HUB with Zola’s help.

“I stood there screaming because I had no idea. [They] had never had the motivation to get out of his wheelchair before, ”said Lechtanski.

Thanks to Zola, the student got a job sorting mail at East Halls.

Lechtanski was asked if cats could be used as service animals, and she said the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 only recognizes miniature dogs and horses as service animals.

Lechtanski said mini horses can live up to 30 years, compared to 10 to 12 years for dogs. Mini horses may also provide better walking support for taller people with disabilities.

While Susquehanna Service Dogs accepts applications for part-time and full-time assistance dog trainers, being a full-time “reliever” is an 18-month commitment. The breeder should attend weekly classes, provide monthly progress reports, and expose their puppy to a variety of experiences.

“You don’t need to have any dog ​​training experience,” Lechtanski said. “All you need is a lot of patience and love.”

At the end of the event, Matt McHugh, Executive Director of State of State, announced he would be hosting his spring conference on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at the State Theater.

The speaker nomination form has been released for which anyone can be nominated, according to McHugh.

“Name your friends, teachers or even yourself. Anyone who you think has a powerful message and could benefit from our platform,” McHugh said.

Alyson De Marco said she thought Wednesday’s event was “very informative”.

De Marco (freshman linguistics and psychology) said she “really enjoyed” – especially Lechtanski’s presentation and the breakout sessions.

“I thought it was great to hear the opinions of others and discuss the topics,” said De Marco. “I thought it was cool.”

Five minutes were allowed for each breakout session before the next presenter took the floor, which De Marco felt was too short. She said her table was shut down after Wilson’s speech.

However, De Marco said she would “definitely recommend” State of State lectures to students.

“I think you’re learning a lot and it gives you another perspective on something you wouldn’t really think about,” De Marco said. “It was ‘a good revelation’.


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