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The herald. (Geneva, N.Y.) 1942-current, February 06, 2015, Image 4

Image and text provided by Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Persistent link: http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/np00050001/2015-02-06/ed-1/seq-4/


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4 FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2015 Campus Happenings Hobart and William Smith: A Safe Place? Choosing a college is a difficult decision for any person. Everyone is looking for a college that feels like a home away from home. A place that they will feel safe for the next four years of their lives. Andrea Proctor was 18 years old when she first arrived on campus at Knox College in Sept. 2010. \I was accepted at 7 colleges, applied to 8 colleges, researched, 20 colleges carefully, visited 15 of them and then· chose Knox,\ said Proctor. \I did not choose Knox lightly.\ Proctor was initially very happy with her choice in colleges, but that all changed during her first round of final exams. It all began with the final exam for Math 101. Proctor was thrilled to be finally done with her first trimester in December. During the exam she noticed two sophomore students whispering to one another, using their notes and looking information up online. After the exam was over she approached the professor and told her what she saw. She composed an anonymous statement that the professor then ~ook to the Honor Board. \The weekend after the hearing concluded, I was present at the same campus event as those two girls,\ said Proctor. \I didn't know they were also there until they came up to me, screamed in my face, and pushed and shoved me against the wall that I was near. Throughout the next thirty minutes, my group of friends and I were physically assaulted five more times by them doing .the same action.\ About a month later the two students approached Proctor again. \They tried to start a conversation by asking me· questions to which I gave brief answers,\ said Proctor. \Both students made comments and statements to me such as, 'In the back of your mind, always be careful,' 'In the end, we will win,' 'Why would you mess with someone's life like that?,' 'Andrea Proctor, just know that we know' and 'Think about this when you're dead in a ditch.\' Proctor determined that due to the circumstances she had experienced it would be best to withdraw from Knox College since she no longer felt safe there. Proctor. took the following· semester off and spent that time looking at new colleges. She'd heard about Hobart & William Smith Colleges through Project Eye-to-Eye and decided to look . into it more. She said she spent a lot of time reading about it, decided to visit, and ultimately fell in love with the campus. In Jan. of 2012, Proctor made the decision to accept a spot in Hobart & William Smith Colleges' Class of 2015. Proctor said that everyone she met at HWS seemed so nice, and the professors were so involved in the student's lives and were very understanding. She lauds the Center for Teaching & Learning, the shuttle system, the Center for Counseling & Student Wellness and Campus Safety as some of the greatest resources ori the campus that helped to make her feel much Sl!-fer there than at Knox. HWS became her safe haven and her home. A place far removed from the violence and distress she had experienced at Knox College. · Many students like Proctor feel · like HWS is their safe place as well, and were then horrified when in May 2014, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation into higher education institutions that had potentially violated federal law 'over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints. 55 higher education institutions were implicated,.including HWS, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The New York Times article about HWS that was posted in July 2014, closely followed the + By Xena Pulliam '16 Herald Contributor announcement of the investigation. The article and across America, is developing a whole culture detaifed how the colleges handled one student~s oh:espect. In there lies, in my opinion, the answer.\ sexual assault complaint, and did not paint a Overall Murphy does believe that HWS is positive image of what life was like at HWS. a safe campus for students. \From my experience The bottom line was that many students walking around the campus, and talking to began to feel unsafe on a .campus that had hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds of students; previously felt like home to them. · I believe we do a good job. Is it perfect? I don't Many students, faculty and alums responded to think. any place is going to be perfect.\ the article demanding change from the colleges' Lucia Cardone '16, was also able to speak president, Mark Gearan, and the Senior Staff at extensively about the progress the colleges have HWS. The Coalition of Concerned Students was made regarding the safety of campus. Cardone is . formed in May 2014, with the goal, \to change a founding member of the Coalition of Concerned institutional policies regarding sexual assault, Students, an executive board .member for William to change campus culture and to fight for more Smith Congress, a member of the Sexual Violence administrative transparency,\ according to the Task Force and she is also a member of Women's group's official Facebook page. Collective (HWS's feminist group). The student group created a petition on Cardone believes that one ::>f the most change.org that asked President Gearan and the important changes regarding safety at the colleges HWS Senior Staff to \take action to prevent further is through the implementation of 'Bystander mismanagement of campus assault cases.\ As of Intervention Training. 'December 2014, the petition has received support \HWS is currently . holding Bystander from 119,022people. Intervention Training for specific pockets of The big question then is; has anything individuals on campus such as first year stUdents, really changed regarding student's safety at Hobart fraternity members and varsity athletes,\ & William Smith Colleges? · said Cardone. '.'At the moment this training is In comparison to last year's. visitors from July to being Viewed as extra-curricular. My specific Sept., there was a 2% decrease in visits to HWS recommendations for the implementation of this by women, and a 2% increase in visits by men, progr:aming on the HWS campus would be to said President Gearan, according to the meeting instead include this training as a core part of the minutes from the Oct. faculty meeting at HWS. curriculum.\ From July to Dec. 2014 it was reported \In order to create and maintain cultural that visits to HWS were down by 23-24%, change there needs to be systems in place at .according to Vice President for Enrollment & the institutional level enforcing certain norms, Dean of Admissions, Robert Murphy.· The dip in · teaching what is and is not acceptable behavior on visits has then resulted in a decrease in this year's . our college campuses,\ said Cardone. · applications as well. The harsh reality is that in one year \We're off 16% in applications,\ said 300,000 college women will experience. rape, Murphy.· While he acknowledged that the according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest reduction in numbers was a direct result of the National Network). The presence of a bystander New York Times article at first, he also attributed makes a completed rape 44% less l:kely, which some of the reduction to the switch from paper files is why Cardone views Bystander Intervention to computer files in the Office of Admissions. Training as critical for all college campuses. · Murphy said that he would get calls from ' Students come from all over the world parents initially after the article was published who to· attend HWS, and many students like Andrea would tell him they would never let their children Proctor were looking for a home away from home .. attend HWS, but the vast majority were calling In order for college to feel like a hooe it should to ask what the colleges were doing on campus to be a safe place. Incidents like the one Proctor address the issue of their student's safety. experienced at Knox College and the one detailed Murphy said he was very empathetic to . in the New York Times article don't foster that the parel}tS as he is a father himself. He then talked state of mind for students. That is why the students about the increase in security on campus, the have demanded change at HWS. inside out review of the judicial processes and the Change has been happening slowly emphasis on educating incoming students about but surely within the HWS community these the issues of security during orientation. past few months. Students, alumni, faculty and President Gearan has also noted the administrators alike are all putting in an extensive creation of a Title IX office at the colleges, and the amount of effort in order to improve the safety of establishment of a hotline with Safe Harbors, a. the colleges' for the present and future students. local organization assisting those who have been Hobart & William Smith Colleges . has violated sexually. · been extensively under the microscope of the \Those are things that you'd expect us to entire country throughout the past year. While do,'' said Murphy. \Perhaps the most important the press wasn't initially positive and the events thing that ftold them, what is really going to go to themselves are horrifying, many people, including the heart of this issue here, and across higher ed Murphy, believe that some good has come of it and ,,...--...,..,._,.,., that there is hope for the future. \I think it's important to know that we are going to · •.. ,.,\'\'' have a program here as a result of that article, we'll always have· a good program, but as a result of that article we 11 probably have one of the best . safety programs, proactiv~ programs, in the world here.\ Title IX staff gather in their office in the s'eneca Room Annex on South Main Street + ---~------------------------------------~--------~----~------------------------------------------------~--------·--------------------

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