Penn panel advises hiring educator to focus on safety, student drinking

    In their first six weeks at the University of Pennsylvania, the number of students who engage in high-risk drinking more than doubles from 11 percent to 24 percent while  5 percent experience unwanted sexual contact.

    These self-reported survey results are included in a newly released report from the university commission convened last year to review alcohol issues and student safety.

    One of the report’s major recommendations is that the university create a staff position to focus on student safety education, including hazing and sexual assaults.

    Joann Mitchell, university vice president and co-chair of the commission, said Penn has committed to all of the recommended changes.

    “It’s not that we don’t want our students to have a good time. But we want them to do it in a way that’s safe and responsible,” she said.

    Mitchell, who stressed that the rate of drinking at Penn is comparable to that at other schools, said the school can do more to support its already extensive support services for students.

    The commission found the most dangerous behavior was happening in off-campus housing.

    Establishment of the commission followed the 2010 death of a student who fell at a Penn fraternity party.

    Members of student groups focused on sexual assault did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.


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