Local rape trial ends in acquittal

Livingston County Court Judge Dennis Cohen acquitted a 2008 Geneseo graduate on charges of rape in the third degree in Livingston County Court on Monday.

The defendant had been charged after an incident that occurred on October 18, 2007.

Livingston County District Attorney Thomas Moran opened the trial, noting that the defendant and the plaintiff had previously had sexual relations before the incident but in the past both parties had consented and used a condom.

In his opening statement, Moran referenced the dangers of unprotected sex. "This is different from getting pregnant in the back of a '57 Chevy. She has the right to say, 'We can't have sex without a condom,' because it's too dangerous."

"Rape is a horrific, heinous act," countered Greg McCaffrey, the defendant's attorney, who proceeded to argue that the he had stopped when the victim had asked him to. "If it was truly a rape, my client wouldn't have stopped," he said. McCaffrey later explained that the defendant and the victim had been, for lack of better words, "friends with benefits," before the incident.

Several witnesses were called to the stand by Moran, including two forensic biologists, one of the plaintiff's housemates, Strong Hospital sexual assault nurse examiner Alexandra Schneider, and Wyoming County Sheriff Deputy Christopher Bryant, who worked for the Geneseo Police Department at the time of the incident and responded to the scene.

The plaintiff's housemate claimed that, upon arriving home on the day of the incident, the plaintiff appeared to be distraught. The housemate claimed once he left, the plaintiff was "in shock," and she and their other housemate tried to console her. She said that the plaintiff still is troubled by the incident. "She has higher levels of anxiety," she said. "A lot of things trigger emotions in her that remind her of that time."

After a brief recess, the trial resumed with the victim taking the stand. She said that in November 2006, she and the defendant started a physical relationship and saw each other on and off until early in the fall 2007 semester.

Around this time, the plaintiff, under the influence of alcohol, went to the defendant's house where they had anal sex. The plaintiff claimed that she screamed and that the act was against her will.

On Oct. 18, 2007, the defendant and the plaintiff met again. A professor, after finding the plaintiff's cell phone left in a classroom, called the defendant because his name was the first recognized on the contact list. They met in order for the plaintiff to retrieve her phone and they ended up getting ice cream together and going to the plaintiff's apartment, where, according to the plaintiff, they "started reconnecting."

According to the plaintiff, she had consensual oral sex, but the plaintiff claimed that she did not want to engage in intercourse because neither of them had a condom. In her testimony, the plaintiff claimed that, despite her five or six pleas to stop, the defendant persisted. The plaintiff admitted that if a condom had been obtainable, she probably would have consented to sex with.

After the plaintiff's testimony, the defendant took the stand. He claimed that after the plaintiff put her hands on his chest during intercourse, he had stopped. After his testimony, Judge Cohen acquitted him of the charges of rape in the third degree.

The defendant, a native of Nigeria and permanent resident of the United States without full citizenship would likely have been deported if he had been convicted.

"He maintained his innocence throughout this whole thing and basically waited a year to tell his story," said McCaffrey of his client.

Moran spoke highly of the plaintiff. "I'm very proud of the victim. This is a very difficult endeavor," he said. "I believe she took a leadership role in standing up for all SUNY students when she testified."

Several Geneseo students attended the trial and wore turquoise ribbons promoting sexual assault awareness. Senior Emily Pisacreta, who attended the trial said, "It seems like the legal system can't really respond to this problem when it comes down to 'he said, she said.'"


Rental service drives forward

Student Association is seeking student feedback regarding a potential car rental service that would likely carry an annual cost of over $30,000.

Students intending to use the cars would likely pay a membership fee of between $30 and $50, which would include insurance and maintenance fees as well as between 150 and 180 free miles. Students would reserve the cars in advance for a maximum of four days at a time. According to SA President Danielle Forrest, were the service to be provided, no student would be required to pay any additional fees.

SA's executive board is currently divided about whether there would be sufficient student interest to justify paying for the service, and no definite decision has been made in the choice of rental service company to be used.

"It seems like it would be a very good service," said Forrest, adding that it would be a "large financial decision." At the soonest, the service would be brought to campus next fall.

Currently, the only SUNY campus which offers a rental car service is Purchase College, but many private colleges including University of Rochester provide some form of rental cars for students.

SA Director of Public Relations Amanda Dermady said that as of Nov. 24, no students had filled out the survey distributed through "What's Up" e-mails. She said that although "people sounded excited about it" at a recent SA meeting where it was discussed, "it would be really great to have student feedback."?

Students interviewed were divided on whether the service would be useful to a large portion of the student body. "I don't think I personally would use it," said freshman Justine Rosen.

Junior Jean Danaher said "I feel like I would have used it when I was a freshman." Danaher will have her own car on campus next year.

Some students who live far from campus said that a rental car service would save them from long drives back and forth from home. "We'd be able to fly here, use a car, and fly home," said freshman Joseph Brass, who is from Long Island.

"The better feel we get for it, the better decision we'll be able to make based on what students want," said Forrest.

Students are strongly encouraged to complete a short, six question survey about whether they would use a rental car service at http://survey.geneseo.edu:8080/survey/entry.jsp?id=1225747442162


Seneca Hall ready to house writers, transfer students

The Writers House, set to open next semester, will now accommodate selected incoming transfer students in addition to the current students who applied for the program.

According to Kim Bilinski, future area coordinator, Residence Life received about 65 applications from current students, with 55 of these students accepting an invitation to move into the hall in January. Among current students who have committed to living in the hall next semester, there are two seniors, eight juniors, 24 sophomores and 21 freshmen.

So far, about 20 incoming transfer students have expressed interest in the hall. The building is designed to house 80 students in four-person suites.

Bilinski said that some students who were interested in the Writers House preferred to move in next fall rather than halfway through the year, and she expects the application process to be more competitive in Fall 2009.

Students who intend to live in the hall will have to move out of their current rooms by the end of this semester, but will be able to store belongings in their new rooms over winter break.

"The students who will be residing in Writers House next semester have enthusiasm and excitement for the possibilities that lay ahead," said Bilinski. "We have such a wonderfully diverse group of students who will be residing there that I anticipate the pilot semester being an extremely successful one."

For more information on the Writer's House, located in brand-new Seneca Hall, contact Kim Bilinski at Bilinski@geneseo.edu.


Task Force suggests humanities change

In a meeting held on Oct. 22, the Task Force on Curriculum Reviewcontinued a more in-depth discussion of potential changes for the currentHumanities program. **

Still, more discussion is needed. "We are not actually at the point where we are recommending any changes," said Polly Radosh, dean of the college.

According to the task force's meeting's minutes, two proposals, one from professor Robert Owens and another from professors Tze-ki Hon, Carlo Filice and Maria Lima, were thoroughly discussed.

The common incentive for change is a desire to include "non-Western" perspectives in the Humanities program.

"The provost indicated that the task force would issue a recommendation for the inclusion of a non-Western component in our Humanities sequence," said English professor Ken Asher after meeting with Provost Katherine Conway-Turner on Nov. 20. "This recommendation would very likely mention whether this should be done in the current two semester format or a new three semester format. There would be nothing like a suggested syllabus attached, nor recommendations for any specific works."

Professor Owens' proposal, according to the Task Force minutes, "took Humanities proposals and multiple models blending those things together to deal with making informed decisions in the 21st century." Owens' proposal would call for increasing Humanities to 21 credits and limiting it to three departments. Finally, Owen called to include a capstone course, though the minutes acknowledge that this would be difficult with a "menu system."

The detailed proposal set forth by Hon, Filice, and Lima is under consideration. This proposition splits the Humanities requirement into three semesters instead of two.

The first semester, according to the proposal, is built around a goal of "comparing … the agrarian civilization built on river valley and the maritime civilization based on oceanic trade." Contents of this semester would include Mesopotamia, Greece, India, and China. Proposed texts include, among others, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Plato's Republic, selections of the Upanishads/Vedas, Confucius' Analects, and a Greek tragedy.

The second semester of the proposal "examines how Euro-Asia and Africa were interconnected through continuous cultural and economic interactions," with texts including, among others, The Bible, the Quran, selections from Dante's Inferno or Boccaccio's Decameron, selected Renaissance texts, and India's Laws of Manu.

The final semester of the proposal "examines capitalism as a modern form of production and accumulation." The proposal lists various text choices exploring early capitalism, imperialistic capitalism, critiques of capitalism, genocides and atrocities, and monetary capitalism.

Reaction to the proposal has been split and heated. "The Humanities program here is part of what makes Geneseo a great liberal arts college," said professor Stacey Edgar. "Do not tamper with one of the best things we have done with our core in order to accomplish new goals."

Freshman Angela Petracca agreed, noting no "justification for removing material from the existing setup."

Professor Paul Schacht said he would advocate, "broadening our humanities syllabus to include non-Western works."

Senior Seth Palmer, a member of the task force, and freshman Kim Hall also expressed interest in a non-Western component to the Humanities program.

Students are encouraged to jump into the discussion through the online forum at wiki.geneseo.edu by looking for the "General Education" link on the left side of the page and then proceeding to "Public Discussions."

**Editor's note: The changes to the Humanities curriculum discussed in thisarticle are only in the first stages of consideration. The Task Force hasnot yet submitted any proposals to the college.


Recent graduates run against struggling economy, job market

As the economy continues to worsen, job prospects have become increasingly thin for college graduates, as displayed through a recent survey conducted by the Career Services office.

According to the survey given to Geneseo's Class of 2007, more of these students entered either a graduate or higher education program than in years past. Full-time employment decreased 3 percent for business majors, education majors and communicative disorders majors. Many students who are only a few exams away from the real world have limited job prospects lined up.

Chris Marro, a fifth-year geography major, said that even though he's graduating this semester, he doesn't have a job waiting for him that involves geography.

"I'm going back home to work at a Taekwondo studio," Marro said. "After that I'm trying to move to Italy to teach English."

Marro also said that he's talked to several friends who have been struggling to find meaningful employment themselves.

"I have friends who graduated last spring who have just found jobs and a lot of them have said they're working for less money than they planned."

Senior Kelley Rehkugler expressed concern about her future prospects as well: "I haven't really done much to prepare for a job after college. With the job market and the bad economy I'm still thinking about staying in school and earning a master's degree before I try and start a career."

According to Jerry Wrubel, the director of Career Services, 74 percent of the Class of 2007 have found jobs within three months of graduation that relate to their major.

"I'm not sure [it's something] anyone can accurately predict, but nothing that I have seen thus far in the news or heard from my professional associations and colleagues suggests a quick turnaround in the job market," he said.

Wrubel offered several tips for graduates worried about their futures, including identifying what skills they have to offer employers, developing some tentative geographic preferences, implementing multiple search strategies and being persistent, patient and positive.

"It's simply not enough to say I just want a good job and I'll go anywhere or there's nothing on Monster today, so I'll check again tomorrow," he said. "The job search is much more strategic than that and employers, more than ever, expect candidates to be self-aware, prepared and focused. It would also be wise and perhaps necessary for this year's graduates to realize that it may take longer to secure the type of position they desire and that it's a good idea to identify intermediate steps or alternatives."