Former student comes forward with allegations

Julio Rodriguez
Zoe Deno
Staff Writer

A former Hudson Valley student claims the college mishandled her reports of sexual harassment that had escalated over the course of three semesters.

The student requested to have her name omitted from the article.

M. said, “The incidents were ongoing from fall 2015 to spring 2016. [The harassment] was not one isolated event. It happened on a weekly basis. I was routinely catcalled and harassed by a group of guys throughout the year.”

According to M., public safety caught several of the students who were harassing her in March of 2016 and wrote them up.

After the events on campus, M. turned to public safety to report the incidents. Public safety referred M. to the former Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development, Dr. Popovics.
“[Dr. Popovics] could not meet with me for over a week. I walked into his office a few weeks later and was confronted by a group of about five-to-seven school officials,” she said.

M. said she had to share what happened to the room of faculty members at the college. “It felt like I was being forced to stand trial against them. They were not supportive at all. They kept trying to poke holes in my story and trivializing what happened,” M. said.

The newly appointed Vice President of Enrollment and Student Development, Vance Valerio, outlined the initial meeting a student has with campus officials after a report is filed with the school.

“During an initial meeting with a student making a report of sexual harassment or violence, a college judicial officer, licensed mental health counselor, physical healthcare practitioner and/or public safety personnel may attend in order to provide immediate help, support and protections to the student,” wrote Valerio in an email correspondence.

Valerio noted the members present in the room are there to provide support and protection to the student. Additionally, staff present in the meeting depends on a case-by-case basis.

“The staff present depends on the nature of the case and where it is reported. We also provide the reporting student with access to off-campus resources for support while implementing immediate protections and accommodations on campus (such as class schedule alterations, counseling and personal security where appropriate).”

“[The college] assured me that they would handle it, but clearly they didn’t, because less than a week later, one of the perpetrators approached me,” M. said.

M. said she returned to public safety and told them she was still being harassed. “The campus police officer tried to shut me down. He said that they didn’t mean harm and that they didn’t know it wasn’t okay to come up to me again.”
According to M., public safety told her that because the individuals had not contacted her, followed her or stalked her on social media that they had officially left her alone by the college’s definition. They did not offer her further assistance.

“It was horrible. I was afraid to go back to campus because I felt like I had a target on my head and the school didn’t care about me. They wanted to shut me up. They wanted to keep me from drawing attention to it. I was so isolated and scared to even walk to different buildings between classes, and no one took me seriously,” M. said.

Valerio will look at reviewing judicial procedures at the college to ensure that all members of the community feel supported.

“As the new vice president overseeing all matters related to student conduct, I am thoroughly reviewing Hudson Valley’s judicial procedures, including those related to sexual harassment and assault. Our goal is to ensure that every one of our students, faculty, staff and visitors feel safe and fully supported by the college.”

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