SUNY has announced that it will be expanding its Sexual Assault and Violence Response resources across all of its campuses, prompting a positive response from members of the Geneseo community.
The current initiative will aim to translate the Enough is Enough legislation into more than 100 different languages, to increase the accessibility of resources for international and immigrant students and to offer these resources for free to a college, state agency or community organization.
Director of Student Care Services and Title IX Coordinator for Students Tamara Kenney believes that the expansion will prove an invaluable resource, as it will allow students and families of all backgrounds a single destination to find relevant information on sexual violence and how it is treated, according to a phone interview with Kenney.
Currently, the Title IX Office works with advocacy groups such as RESTORE and Chance for Changes. These provide free, confidential counseling services through the Office of Violence Against Women, as well as connections to on- and off-campus resources. The Title IX Office also sends out a mandatory online training program called the “Think About It Program” to all first year students to raise awareness of sexual assault and alcohol use.
In addition to this, Kenney said that she speaks at first-year student orientation, which is also where peer led awareness programs are held. In addition, members of the Geneseo University Police Department offer a Rape Aggression Defense course in which students, faculty, staff and Geneseo community members learn self-defense and risk assessment skills.
English major junior Hannah Embry sees the expansion of SAVR as a way to make international students more comfortable in getting help and in taking steps toward healing.
“I know that for survivors who are international students that do not speak English as a first language, it is very challenging to get support,” Embry said. “I think that SAVR is an important step in letting them know they have a right to support and resources.”
In regard to how Geneseo currently handles sexual assault, Embry believes that while the support groups on campus are valuable, a larger access to mental health care would be greatly beneficial.
President of Women’s Action Coalition senior Maya Lucyshyn echoed similar beliefs, as she hopes the program will encourage students to speak out.
“As strange as it sounds, I hope reporting rates of sexual assault will increase,” Lucyshyn said. “It looks bad on paper, but that just means that more people are comfortable coming forward and using the resources available to them.”
As far as how Geneseo currently handles sexual assault, Lucyshyn said she would like to see more sexual assault awareness programs for upperclassmen.
“They do a lot of sexual awareness programs for freshmen, but then it kind of ends after freshman orientation,” Lucyshyn said.
Going forward, Kenney, Embry and Lucyshyn all affirm that they wish for the best possible resources and care to be accessible to all students
“We always encourage victims to report so we can provide these services,” Kenney said. “We want to support our victims to getting all the resources they need, so they can continue to be successful at Geneseo.”