Students consider quality of sexual assault support after number of reports rise

The issue of sexual assault on college campuses has not left Geneseo untouched, with some wondering if enough is being done. 

There has been an increase in the number of reports and disclosures of incidents this year, according to Title IX Coordinator Tamara Kenney.  

“We’ve certainly seen a spike this year,” Kenney said. “We’re almost at the same number of disclosures and reports this year that we were at the end of last year. It’s bad that these things continue to occur, but it’s great that people are feeling comfortable to come in and get those support services.”

English adolescent education major senior William Antonelli similarly stated, “It’s good and bad. Good in the sense that more people are coming forward and willing to report, and bad in the sense that sexual assaults are still occurring. It’s a complicated topic and sexual assault policies on-campus always come with their good and their bad, unfortunately.” 

Antonelli expressed some concerns about the way that the college handles sexual assault. From his knowledge of others who have used the Title IX services, Antonelli feels that the process can be disorganized and occasionally lacks full confidentiality that reporting students desire. When students disclose a case that the administration deems a potential threat to other students, Title IX is obligated to report that case to law enforcement, according to Kenney. 

International relations major junior Melissa Hartlipp cited the structural challenges that campuses across the country have when responding to sexual assault cases. 

“I don’t think it’s necessarily worse here on-campus than it is throughout the rest of society,” Hartlipp said. “I think it’s being handled as well as it can be … I don’t think that there’s anything happening at Geneseo that is so offensive that they’re not addressing.”

Though the process differs depending on the situation, students are offered the option to file a criminal or student conduct complaint, while also being provided with support services to help them deal with the trauma. 

When students report to other organizations on-campus, they are often referred to the Title IX office as a resource. Kenney stressed that there are many resources available to students and the choices they have in dealing with assault. 

“No one is ever told to do one thing over the other,” Kenney said. “It’s truly their decision as to what they choose to do and we’ll support them with that.” 

Women’s Action Coalition Vice President junior Jennifer Galvao believes the administration’s approach to raising awareness of support services can be improved. 

“Generally, we wish that policies about what to do and who to reach out to were more available and better publicized,” Galvao said. “Some good steps are taken … but I think the college could be more proactive about running workshops and things like that.” 

Hartlipp agreed that increasing awareness of services for sexual assault survivors can be remodeled to better serve the campus. While she commented that the Title IX office has made attempts to reach out to the college community, Hartlipp felt as though the office could make services more accessible and available to students who need them. 

Galvao attributed the rise in disclosures and reporting to the broader societal conversations about sexual assault.

“It makes me think that a lot of things in the news right now have had an impact,” Galvao said. “As soon as one person comes forward and accuses someone, it’s more likely that people feel like they can come forward. We want people to feel like they can speak out and that they’ll be believed when they speak out.”


News editor Malachy Dempsey contributed reporting to this article.u