Residence Life reforms sexual assault policy

The Department of Residence Life changed the policy for reporting sexual assault this year, its main goal being to decrease the number of people required to read such a confidential report.Residence Assistants are a primary resource for students who find themselves victims of sexual assault and would like to discuss it.

Director of Residence Life Celia Easton explained that the first step is for the RA to make sure the victim is okay emotionally and physically. If the victim chooses to file a report, he or she is presented with a “Victim’s Option Form.” This form explains the different options and people available to share the report with. “If you decide something now, you can still make different decisions later,” Easton said. Options on this form include: speaking with someone but not filing a report, filing a report with Administrative Director of Student Health and Counseling Melinda DuBois, filing a report through the school’s conduct system or filing a police report.

These reports filed within the conduct system are transmitted through the incident report system. Here, only three people will see the reports: DuBois, Assistant Dean of Students for Student Conduct and Community Standards Tamara Kenney and Director of Affirmative Action Adrienne Collier. “The thing that’s changing is that fewer people have access to reports. In the past, when an RA wrote an incident report, that incident report would have been read by the building director and by me,” Easton said. “Now if a student comes to an RA and says ‘I want to report a sexual assault,’ there is a new kind of incident report for sexual assaults and only three people read it.” According to Easton, the three aforementioned women were chosen to read the incident reports because they are the people responsible for the educational climate issues on campus.

With this new system, the only member of Residence Life to see the report is the RA who wrote it. Easton explained that national mistakes influenced the current changes in policy. “At Geneseo, there hasn’t been a backlash. But looking nationally, we could see that a lot of mistakes going on at campuses involved loose information––someone who is victimized shares something that’s very traumatic to them and then finds out there’s all kinds of people talking about it,” she said. Easton said that although the chain of people viewing the report has changed, the philosophy behind the process has not. She explained a major component of this process is making sure the victim is in control of the process of reporting the incident, not to make them feel like they are still being victimized.

According to the national 2012 Student Opinion Survey, in which Geneseo is ranked with other four-year SUNY schools, Geneseo was ranked second for their educational efforts for sexual assault prevention. “Geneseo is committed to making sure that someone who is a victim of sexual assault–– whether they are male or female––has their needs addressed,” Easton said.