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The Etownian, by Andrew S. Herm , Feb 23rd, 2011, Pennsylvania-

Two bills that recently passed in the 2010 session of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have their roots intertwined with Elizabethtown College. Katie Zerfuss, class of '03 and sophomore, Al Gorton, both played pivotal roles in the promotion and passing of two separate bills.

Zerfuss's bill began its long journey to the House in 2002, while she was an intern with the Committee Fellowship Program. She was assigned creating an original legislative draft, the same way any professional legislator would. After struggling to find inspiration, Zerfuss noticed a trend of sexual assault cases throughout college newspapers, and she set in motion what is now the omnibus school code bill Act 104 of 2010. Article XX-G (Sexual Violence Education at Institutions of Higher Education Act) states that all institutions of higher education, including private-licensed schools, must establish a educational program to promote sexual violence awareness.

The programs must include: discussion of sexual violence as well as consent (the fact that victims are not at fault is to be stressed) and the effects of drugs and alcohol on sexual violence. Information about personal protection, both against physical violence and diseases, is required, and protocol on reporting an incident to police and campus security must be detailed as well. Finally, students must be introduced to local law enforcement, health centers and counseling while being assured that confidentiality and discretion will be upheld. Gorton, a political science major, had a helping hand with the Children in Foster Care Act.

After being taken from his family at age eight, Gorton was under the care of the foster home system from 1997 to 2005, during which he said he was, "bounced from home to home." After working as a volunteer with Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a non-partisan/profit group, Gorton and other sought to create a foster-care alumni group whose goal is to raise awareness regarding the system. After five years, the bill, introduced by Rep. Phyllis Mundy, passed unanimously in both houses of the State Congress. Pre-Law director, Dr. Kyle C. Kopko, said the Children in Foster Care Act is "like a bill of rights for those in foster care." Gorton agreed, stating to reporters after an official press conference that the rights mentioned in the bill aren't new creations, but its purpose is to bring every legal right a foster-child has together in one document: "this brings them together in a condensed version." A few basic rights granted to foster-children include access to fair treatment, freedom from any form of discrimination and harassment, proper nourishment and access to appropriate clothing– things that many may take for granted. The ability to bring about change, especially on a local or state level, may be easier than one would think. Often, you only need to contact a local representative to express your concerns and ideas, and from there a simple "yes" or "no" vote can result in visible progress. "Find something you're adamant about," Gorton advised. Zerfuss and Gorton, are two shining examples of Elizabethtown students making lasting impressions.


Original article, by Andrew S. Herm, retrieved on Feb 24th, 2011

Feb 24, 2011 By FC Steve