A letter from the federal education department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) was sent to SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher at the end of October to discuss Title IX compliance throughout the university system.
SUNY New Paltz was one of four schools in the SUNY system to be observed by the OCR, along with SUNY at Albany, SUNY Buffalo State and SUNY Morrisville.
In the New Paltz section of the letter, the OCR said “New Paltz does not utilize the SUNY system procedures for sexual harrasment complaints against students,” and that they were concerned with the school’s handling of those complaints once they had been made from the 2007-08 academic year to the 2010-11 academic year. However, they applauded awareness efforts such as the workshops done at first-year and transfer orientation, as well as events like “Tunnel of Oppression” and “Take Back the Night.”
SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said the standards the OCR were holding SUNY to were changed after the earliest files examined.
“It’s hard to ask someone to get into a time capsule and change these guidelines, when they hadn’t been in place for earlier files,” Christian said.
Dean of Students Linda Eaton said the school has since followed the current OCR procedures since the guidelines had been changed. She also said while it would appear in writing that the school wasn’t following the procedure, they were doing so in practice.
“There was nothing intentional about not having the proper procedure in writing,” Eaton said. “It was probably just a matter of oversight because it was always a practice that we followed.”