Sexual assault is widely discussed on college campuses. While an unknown amount of sexual assaults go unreported, when a report is made, it can have a clear effect. On Sunday April 13, Geneseo’s University Police Department sent out an email alerting the campus that two suspects had committed a sexual assault on campus. The email provided a brief description of the two suspects, detailed as white, short males.
Interim Chief of UP Thomas Kilcullen said the investigation is ongoing, and thus no information can be released at this time.
“We have interviewed a number of people and we have scheduled more interviews, so the case continues to move forward at the point,” Kilcullen said.
Following the incident, UP implemented some increased immediate security measures in response as well as planning some other long-term changes, such as better visibility in remote areas.
“We have implemented patrol special attention, and we have officers and staff that are dedicated to surveillance in the area where the incident has taken place. In addition to that we are stepping up visibility in remote areas and parking lots, and we’re directing the officers’ activities in those areas and having them document times,” he said.
Most importantly, UP’s focus is maintaining community confidence in the department and to “alleviate any fear that may be in place.”
While fear is an expected result after a sexual assault is reported, Geneseo is typically a very safe campus, without a sexual assault with a similar classification since 2011. In that case, there was an arrest.
“This [is] something that is out of the ordinary for this community, and our response is to be supportive of the victim in this case and to go forward with the investigation and give a response to the overall community,” Kilcullen said.
The school also provides many resources for students, such as the blue light emergency phone systems, which haven’t seen any recent use, which Kilcullen attributes to the time.
“We looked back at 2013, and there were no activations of the blue light phone for a call for service, but there were a number of malfunctions that were reported. One thing that impacts the use of the blue light phones, which are crucial in a community like this, is the use of cellular phones today,” he said. “We do have those in areas that are remote, with the intention of having them visible if someone needs assistance, and they don’t have access to a phone.”
Other resources include Pathways: Geneseo Peer Advocacy Program and the Geneseo Sexual Assault Response Team, both under the advisement of associate professor of psychology Jennifer Katz.
“Pathways is … a resource that’s available to students to reach out to for any number of issues, sexual assault being one of those,” Katz said. “And so the nature of the organization is to provide the service and to be available to students who have concerns for needs for nonjudgmental listening.”
SART is a transportation program that exists to provide victims of sexual assault a trip to the hospital in a way that circumvents reporting the incident to the authorities.
“It became clear that our campus is unfit to provide the medical and forensic needs necessary as well as the proper storing of evidence,” she said. “We wanted to provide students a way to access those resources without having to report the incident in any official way if they choose not to.”
While SART did not play a role in the incident this weekend, they were available for assistance had they been called on.
When it comes to safety on campus, UP urges students not to walk alone, to avoid remote areas at night and to use the Livingston Area Transportation Service. UP is also available 24/7 to provide an escort for students going somewhere on campus.