Campus, borough police continue to seek information about assault

Penn State Schuylkill Police and the Schuylkill Haven Police Department continue to investigate an assault that took place shortly before 9 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4, in an off-campus apartment on Dock Street in Schuylkill Haven, Pa. Police are seeking any and all information related to the assault, in which three victims, all Schuylkill campus students, were injured.

Penn State Schuylkill Interim Chancellor Stephen Couch asked the campus community to be vigilant and said campus police will work in cooperation with Schuylkill Haven police to identify and arrest the assailants. The chancellor urged anyone with information to come forward and said that police have reported these were targeted acts of violence, in which the assailants knew the victims.

"I share the deep concern expressed by many of you in the Penn State Schuylkill and Schuylkill Haven community about the violence perpetrated on our students this weekend, and about the violence that has occurred in our community in recent weeks," Couch said. "The safety of our community is of paramount importance, and I ask that everyone monitor their surroundings and report any suspicious activities to the police."

Anyone who has information about Sunday's assault should contact Penn State Schuylkill Police at 570-385-6144, or the Schuylkill Haven Police Department at 570-385-9111.

Schuylkill campus has taken several steps to ensure violence does not continue through the final two weeks of the fall semester:

-- University Police patrols of campus residence halls have been increased during nighttime hours.

-- Additional police from Penn State's Berks campus will be added to the Schuylkill campus force for an increased presence on the patrols.

-- Many scheduled student events have been postponed until the spring semester of 2012.

-- Students must vacate housing within 24 hours of their last exam.

-- The Penn State Schuylkill Office of Student Conduct, in an ongoing effort, continues to implement sanctions against the students involved.

Couch said he will lead efforts in the coming days, weeks and months to strengthen the conversation about nonviolence and mutual respect, both on campus and in the Schuylkill Haven community. The chancellor said he has decided to accelerate the initial timeframe for creation of the committee, as well as the delivery of their recommendations. Couch said he would now like to see an initial report no later than Feb. 1, and he will share their report with the campus and the wider community at that time.

"The committee will be charged with recommending actions that will improve the climate on campus and between the campus and the Schuylkill Haven community," Couch said. "I am determined to take the necessary steps to get to the root of the violence and incivility that plague some parts of our campus community."

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, senior campus administrators attended a meeting of the Schuylkill Haven Borough Council to address the violent nature of events taking place on Dec. 4. Attending the meeting along with Couch were Tammie Durham, director of Enrollment Services; Matthew Swatchick, director of Student Affairs; and Pamela Black, director of Academic Affairs. The campus administrators responded to the concerns of several community members in attendance.

Students, faculty and staff members who have been affected by recent events are encouraged to reach out to Campus Counseling at 570-385-6127, or visit for more information. Campus Counseling's services are strictly confidential.

Police urge campus community members to remember to walk on well-lit paths, walk in groups and report suspicious behavior or individuals immediately to police at 570-385-6144 or 911. For more information about safety services at Penn State Schuylkill, visit online.