College adopts new sexual assault regulations

Tyler McNeil, Managing Editor

Changes in the way the college addresses sexual violence are in effect this semester after being mandated by SUNY and statewide reform last year.

“There’s new avenues for justice,” said Sandra McCarthy, coordinator of the college Judicial System and Student Senate attorney.

Last February, the Board of Trustees adopted comprehensive SUNY sexual assault regulations. Along with adopting SUNY policy, the college is now in the process of adjusting its language to match state affirmative consent laws passed in July.

“This new legislation gives a lot of rights, services and avenues for people who believe they are victims of dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and rape,” said McCarthy. Although the deadline for adding the new affirmative consent laws into the college catalog extends to 2017, McCarthy expects the language to match the legislation by the Spring 2016 semester.

Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Development Alexander Popovics said that the most substantive change with the new legislation is the way transcripts are handled for offenders. “We are [now] required to make sure that a student who is suspended [or] expelled asa result of sexual violence has an indication on their transcript regarding that,” he said.

As of this year, student leaders like student-athletes and the officers of the student senate are now required to have sexual assault prevention training. Prospective students will meet with Director of Public Safety Fred Aliberti to learn the rules and regulations of the legislation.

Along with new provisions for student leaders, starting this year, a Student Bill of Rights is required to be posted in every building on campus grounds. According to Popovics, the communications department has designed “more colorful” Student Bill of Rights posters, scheduled to go up around campus this week.

A message was sent out to all students about the Student Bill of Rights this Monday by President Drew Matonak. This marks the second time the college president has sent out information regarding the Student Bill of Rights since the provisions were passed last year.

Under the Good Samaritan Law, those reporting sexual violence to at least six college or law-enforcement officials are offered drug possession amnesty. For students under the age of 21, the school reserves the right to notify parents or to encourage counseling for students potentially under the influence of recreational drugs. “Even if someone’s under the influence — that’s not what they’re there for. They’re there to make sure the person is safe,” said McCarthy.

While rape has not been officially reported at Hudson Valley in over a decade, off-campus incidents have occurred. In 2008, then-Hudson Valley student Shane Harding held an air pistol to the head of a 17-year-old girl in his Troy home and raped her. He was convicted of a Level 3 sex offense and served four years of a six-year prison sentence. In April 2015, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of kidnapping.

Popovics said that the new reform addresses possible concerns with student housing, which is scheduled to open at Hudson Valley in 2017. “Many of the incidents that are reported at other institutions have to do with situations that occur in housing,” said Popovics.

According to McCarthy, of the issues addressed by the new legislation, dating violence and stalking are currently the most common Hudson Valley. “The school’s going to do what it can to educate students to leave their dating drama off campus,” said McCarthy.

 

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