SUNY Plattsburgh officials and students are strengthening their efforts to reduce the number of sexual-based crimes on campus. The goal is to reduce the stigma and heighten the number of reports so that more students can be helped.
PLATTSBURGH — In light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, SUNY Plattsburgh officials and students are looking into more ways to protect the people within the campus community.
In 2015, there were 95 reported incidents of sexual assault, harassment and violence, which is about 25 percent more cases than the year before, said SUNY Plattsburgh Title IX Coordinator Butterfly Blaise.
The numbers for 2016 won’t be released until the end of the school year.
“This rise doesn’t mean a rise in violence, but a rise in reports,” she said. “Our goal is to make everyone comfortable when reporting about any type of abuse.”
A number of U.S. senators recently renewed legislation to combat sexual assault on college campuses, which proposes a number of protective measures, including heightening support services for student survivors and training for on-campus personnel.
“We already do everything they’re proposing,” Butterfly said. “In fact, we’re going above and beyond that.”
SUNY Plattsburgh started its efforts to reduce the numbers of sex crimes in 2015 after Gov. Andrew Cuomo spearheaded the “Enough is Enough” policy that required all college campuses to strengthen their guidelines for handling sex crimes.
Blaise was hired in 2015 to investigate allegations and spearhead outreach efforts on raising awareness of these crimes.
Blaise, along with the help of other officials and interns, has organized many training and educational programs to students and teachers throughout the main and branch campuses.
Over 200 educational sessions took place last year alone, said Blaise.
The goal for the future is to hire more help, both paid staff and interns, to increase the campus’ outreach efforts.
SUNY Plattsburgh also plans to start working with local bars to teach them the college’s local policies in an attempt to reduce the number of sexual-based crimes off campus as well.
Lastly, the college’s goal is to begin some type of outreach program in schools across the North Country to teach kids the importance of consent.
The goal is to start and finish these efforts during the next fall semester, said Blaise.
“We’re always trying to think of ways to reach out to the campus community,” she said. “We will continue to do so.”
The SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Womyn’s Concerns — a student-run organization dedicated to raise awareness on “isms” such as sexism and racism — will be hosting a series of events this month in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“This month is important for college students to recognize because we need to realize that sexual assault and sexual violence does happen,” said CWC President Sydney Dixon in an email. “We should not be throwing these personal and emotional stories under the rug, but we must shatter the silence and end the silence and violence together as a college campus.”
The college’s annual Take Back the Night event will take place this Saturday at 7 p.m. starting in the Warren Ballrooms in the Angell College Center.
That same night, two films — “Rashomon” and “Star Trek: The Enemy Within” — will be shown by the CWC and local film enthusiast Andy MacDougall starting at 7 p.m. at the Newman Center on Broad Street. A panel discussion will follow.
Next Saturday, the films will continue with showings of “How to Say No to a Rapist & Survive” and “Demon Seed,” which will take place in the same location at the same time.
All these events are free and open to the public.
For more information about the college’s efforts, visit plattsburgh.edu.