Staff Editorial: President Dahl must enact Senate’s sexual misconduct policy recommendations

After the adoption of a new Sexual Misconduct Policy in the Student Code of Conduct following 2011’s Sexual Assault Teach-In, the College Senate made recommendations to President Christopher Dahl on April 3 of this year about further changes to address current weaknesses in the college’s sexual assault policies. At The Lamron, we strongly encourage Dahl to initiate these policies as they would not only improve the safety of the student body in emergency situations, but would also advance Geneseo’s already honest attitude regarding sexual education.

Because we apparently live in a day and age when some people still think it’s OK to make light of sexual assault, it’s inspiring and comforting to be a part of a campus in which the students, faculty and administration understand the seriousness of the issue.

For example, Boston University’s independent student newspaper The Daily Free Press Editor-in-Chief Chelsea Diana was rightfully asked to resign after printing a tasteless April Fools’ issue that made light of the “gangbanging” of a female student and of “roofied” sorority girls.

Increasing the inappropriateness of the comments, the issue was released just weeks after BU’s hockey team went under investigation for sexual assault charges and a campus sorority was temporarily suspended for alcohol-related hazing.

Despite the use of an example at another college, however, we’re not ignorant of the fact that these incidents involving sexual assault – and hazing, for that matter – do happen at Geneseo, which is why we’re in full support of the authorization and addition of these policies to the Code of Conduct.

In short, the recommendations made to Dahl include: funding for education and prevention efforts; development and funding for the transportation to a hospital following a report; and reviewing the organization and procedures of the college’s responses to sexual assaults.

There was also a call for the Code of Conduct to be aligned with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Good Samaritan policy, which was signed into law in July 2011. This alignment would bar arrests and prosecution of people for the possession of drugs, paraphernalia or underage drinking when they call for help for a victim of overdose or sexual assault.

The adoption of these policies is especially important to protect victims and make them feel more comfortable when reporting these sensitive incidents. Many sexual assaults at Geneseo often go unreported because victims are afraid of the potential repercussions or do not feel they will be adequately guided through the process, and increased reporting would also lead to more accurate statistics.

With more accurate statistics, the college could more adequately create and configure prevention and education programs to better the campus community as a whole and continue the spread of awareness about these difficult situations.

While the complete elimination of sexual assault at Geneseo is a goal toward which we can work, it’s necessary to realize that it is a very serious reality right now. The Lamron staff, however, feels that the sanctioning of these positive changes is a big step in a promising direction.