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Students react to sexual assault report at Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Updated: 08/31/2014 11:11 PM
Created: 08/31/2014 6:46 PM WHEC.com

Sunday was move-in day at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.

Students were walking onto a campus that, just weeks ago, had been in the headlines after a student reported that she had been sexually assaulted.

We spoke with a number of students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and they all knew about the sexual assault case. Back in July, The New York Times highlighted a student on campus who claims she was sexually assaulted last year. She says she went to the school for justice but justice came up empty.

Students were out buy books and talking about something the article that sent a shockwave through campus less than two months ago.

“It’s scary to think that things like that do happen, and it’s not just us,” said Cathryn Pickei, a sophomore.

Now, students say they are cautiously optimistic new changes will turn things around. This all stems from an article in the New York Times back in July. A student named Anna criticized the school’s investigation after three football players stood accused of raping her. The report says a school panel cleared the men in a 12 day investigation. The story caused an uproar on and off campus.

In a letter to the New York Times in July, the school said the case was handled with compassion and respect.

Although classes don’t start until Monday, the school has already begun to raise awareness.

Students like Will Cost say changes are underway. Meetings over the summer between students and administrators have led to different school policies for investigating sexual assault as well as a revamped sexual grievance board. Students say they hope the changes will better serve and protect victims of sexual assault.

“In the first few days here, there have been skits by the theatre group, and a lot of upperclassmen and orientation mentors working to try and get freshman talking about these difficult conversations. They’ve been trying to get male and female perspectives,” said Will Cost, a freshman.

“I’m not really concerned. I think the school handled it the best they could, and I think they have our back. Whether the story was true or not, I don’t think they would let that happen again,” said Selena Delgado Schultz, a sophomore.

“Some people still think it’s not really an issue, and some people are afraid that’s it’s going to be an issue for them,” said Schultz.

Another change coming this fall is a new rape/crisis hotline for students of campus.

Some students say what happened at Hobart and William Smith Colleges doesn’t necessarily change their view of the school. They say they still feel safe on campus and say this helps to make them more aware of their surroundings.

We did reach out to the colleges for an interview, but we’re told no one could speak with us until Monday. Shortly after the New York Times article ran, the president of the school did come out and say how devastating it was to hear what happened on their campus.





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