Correspondence to Dennis Showers, School of Education, South 222C, firstname.lastname@example.org, 245-5264
Note: Page numbers indicate pages as per the paper copy of the Bulletins.
March 1, 2013
President's response to "Student Affairs Committee recommendations for sexual assault policy" 85
Note: The President's response is a conversion from a pdf file. The font was standardized in Times New Roman and set at 12 points.
The Chair apologizes in advance for any errors in the conversion that were not caught in the proofreading process.
Republication of the Report of the Student Affairs Committee to the Senate meeting of April 3, 2012 89
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TO: Dennis Showers, Chair, College Senate
FROM: Christopher C. Dahl, President
DATE: December 10, 2012
RE: Student Affairs Committee recommendations for sexual assault policy
As I reported recently to the Senate Executive Committee, the senior leadership of the College has carefully considered the Student Affairs Committee's recommendations - presented to College Senate on April 3, 2012 - and has responded in a variety of ways. I appreciate the work of the SAC under Dan Repinski during the 2011-2012 year and am pleased to report that significant progress has been made in all four of the areas highlighted by the committee.
Program funding recommendation: that the President should support funding for sexual assault prevention and education
Numerous sexual assault education and prevention programs are underway and have generally been funded by the Vice President for Student and Campus Life. A grant proposal for a comprehensive sexual assault prevention program was submitted to the Department of Justice in Spring 2012 to obtain external funding for a comprehensive education program; unfortunately it was not funded. Nonetheless, the Vice President for Student and Campus Life and I continue to support program needs identified by the Administrative Director of Student Health and Counseling and the Advisory Committee on Campus Security. In most, if not all cases, we have been able to provide funding. As I indicated to Professor Repinski when we discussed the report last spring, we will not designate a specific base budget line for this purpose but funding will be provided centrally or from appropriate unit budgets. The College strongly supports sexual assault education, just as we supported the Sexual Assault Teach-in.
Transportation funding recommendation: that the President support the development and funding of a service to transport to Strong Hospital medically stable students seeking forensic evaluation.
I am pleased that progress has been made in providing transport to Strong Memorial Hospital for individuals who have experienced sexual assault and desire a forensic evaluation. Thanks to the Student Affairs Response Team (SART), comprised of volunteers from the Student Association, the Center for Community, and Student and Campus Life staff, drivers are available for this transport. Vice President Bonfiglio is currently working with the Chief of University Police to purchase a new vehicle that will be available for SART drivers in the evenings and during night time hours.
Administration recommendations: that the organization and procedures of the College sexual assault response effort be reviewed.
The Office of Student and Campus Life has reviewed the sexual assault data collection and record-keeping procedures. I commend the Administrative Director of Student Health and Counseling (the College's Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Student Sexual Assault) for the accuracy of the records she keeps of reported incidents of sexual assault. The position of chief Title IX Coordinator rests with Geneseo's Director of Affirmative Action. We are currently completing a search for that position. When the position is filled, we will revisit questions of data collection and record-keeping.
The Senate recommendation refers to a letter issued by the Department of Education on April 4, 2011. As recently as October 25, 2012, the SUNY Office of Legal Counsel circulated a proposed resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, New York Office of Civil Rights (OCR), about Title IX requirements. The language and requirements of the proposed resolution, which eventually will apply to all SUNY campuses, are currently under negotiation between SUNY and OCR. Campuses, including Geneseo, will need to wait for these negotiations to be completed before making changes in administrative responsibilities for Title IX.
Senate further recommends that a College official be designated to "own" sexual assault issues, coordination, and response. This kind of personnel decision must be made within the larger context of faculty and staff needs throughout the College, and follow the regular procedure for hiring or reassignment of duties. At the present time, on the recommendation of Vice President Bonfiglio, the College is exploring the possibility of establishing a shared interpersonal violence position with Monroe Community College.
Currently, the Sexual Assault Focus on Education (SAFE) web site offers several options for· reporting sexual assault. As with reporting of bias-related incidents, it is important to have more, rather than fewer, places for victims to file reports. This, I believe, is in the best interests of those who have experienced sexual assault; it enables them to make a decision to report to someone whom they trust.
I commend the Advisory Committee on Campus Security, the Student Affairs Committee of the College Senate, and others involved in sexual assault education and prevention on campus. Their efforts have played a key role in improving Geneseo’s ranking on the SUNY Student Opinion Survey. Geneseo was ranked #2 among SUNY "comprehensive colleges" on satisfaction with sexual assault prevention programs in the 2012 SUNY Student Opinion Survey; this is a significant improvement over our ranking of 11th in 2009.
Student Code of Conduct recommendation: that the President initiate a review of the Student
Code of Conduct to increase the likelihood that students will seek help during an emergency.
As was made clear in facilitator meetings for the Sexual Assault Teach-in, the perception by some that students are reluctant to seek assistance for themselves or others when illegal alcohol or substance abuse is involved does not match the data we have. In the 2008 and 2012 CORE Alcohol and Drug Survey (produced by the CORE Institute of Southern Illinois University) 89.9% and 87.5% of Geneseo respondents, respectively, answered "No" to the question: "During this academic year, have you ever chosen not to request needed assistance for a friend under the influence of alcohol or other drug because of fear that they or you would get into trouble?" Having noted these survey results, though, we don’t want to dismiss the concerns of the 10% of Geneseo students who would hesitate to ask for needed assistance. It behooves us to be aware of this, and consider the best way to allay these students' fears.
On November 2, 2011, Vice President Bonfiglio issued an "ethos of care" pledge to the College community. This "ethos of care" states that "the safety and well-being of every member of the College community is the highest priority of the College. Every student is entitled to the College’s assistance and support at all times, and especially in times of need." The pledge addresses instances where violations of College policy may occur and notes that "the positive impact of demonstrating care for the welfare of any member of the Geneseo community will be given strong consideration by College officials..."
The Senate recommendation referred to recent changes in NYS law (penal code 220.78). The revisions to this statute - the "good Samaritan" act - specifically apply to actions by police, not students. Revising the Student Code of Conduct in light of this statute, then, isn't appropriate. We have consulted with student affairs leadership at other SUNY institutions and found that none have revised their student codes of conduct as a result of the changes in penal code 220.78.
Nevertheless, in response to concern by the Student Association about "disciplinary amnesty," Vice President Bonfiglio has drafted a policy that will ultimately be reviewed by College Council in which those who seek emergency medical or other professional assistance for themselves or others will be exempt from student conduct action related to underage drinking.
C: Dan Repinski, Chair, Student Affairs Committee, College Senate
Robert Bonfiglio, Vice President for Student and Campus Life
April 3, 2012
Student Affairs, Dan Repinski
The committee moves the following resolutions related to sexual assault issues:
#1 Program Funding
Presently: There are no designated funding sources for the education and prevention efforts of the Advisory Committee on Campus Security (ACCS) and other participating College offices.
Motion: The Senate recommends to the President that he support funding for efforts which seek to (1) prevent sexual assault at Geneseo, and (2) educate faculty, staff, and students about resources and options available to those who have experienced sexual assault. The Senate SAC will seek to update with the President regarding status of this issue in fall 2012.
o Motion carried.
#2 Transportation Funding
Presently: The College does not offer to transport to Strong Memorial Hospital medically-stable students who seek a forensic evaluation by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner following the experience of sexual assault.
Motion: The Senate recommends to the President that he support the development and funding of a service whereby medically-stable students who seek a forensic evaluation by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner following the experience of sexual assault are assisted by the College with transportation to Strong Memorial Hospital. We urge that this be implemented prior to the start of fall 2012 or sooner.
o Motion carried.
#3 Administrative Structure and Procedures
Presently: The organization and procedures of the College response to sexual assault warrants review:
-there appears to be a lack of coordination and communication among those offices responsible; and
-there appears to be no coordinated and systematized data collection and record-keeping protocol.
Motion: The Senate recommends to the President that the organization and procedures of the College sexual assault response effort be reviewed. We urge that the following be considered and implemented prior to the start of fall 2012 or sooner:
-implementation of best practices as those outlined in the “Dear Colleagues” letter issued by the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (4/4/2011) for data collection, policies, procedures, and efforts towards response, education, and prevention;
-designation of a College official who “owns” the issue of response to sexual assault, coordinates College efforts, and offers periodic reports to the College community; and
-implementation of an expanded, coordinated, and systematized data collection and record-keeping protocol which records all reports of student sexual assault, and expands current recording and reporting practices beyond those based on compliance with Clery Act requirements.
o Motion carried.
#4 Policy Governing Student Conduct
Presently: College policies and the Student Code of Conduct appear to serve as institutional barriers to students in need of assistance during some emergencies. Seemingly, students refrain from reporting or seeking assistance during some emergencies and crises (e.g., sexual assault and excessive chemical consumption) due to concerns about possible sanctions linked to event-related alcohol and/or chemical use. Further, the Student Code of Conduct warrants revision in order to align it with recent changes in NYS law (Penal Law 220.78) regarding the provision of assistance in medical emergencies.
Motion: The Senate recommends to the President that he initiate review of the Student Code of Conduct, and support changes which align the Code with NYS law (Penal law 220.78) and serve to increase the likelihood that students will contact College officials to report and to seek assistance amidst emergencies and crises. We urge that proposals for changes to the Student Code of Conduct be presented to the College Council for review and approval prior to the start of fall 2012 or sooner.
o Motion carried.