Just over a week ago, the campus community was alerted by the University Police Department (UPD) of an attempted sexual assault in the area of Plattekill Avenue and South Oakwood Terrace.
In the past year, the area was the site of two other sexual assaults reported off-campus. The New Paltz Oracle reported the amount of sexual assaults reported by college students jumped from four to 12 from 2011-12.
Both local governments and UPD and the New Paltz Police Force have addressed the issue and said the “quick fix” would be to add several more lighting fixtures along Plattekill. SUNY New Paltz’s Student Senate said they supported increased lighting in the area.
We at The New Paltz Oracle commend the parties involved for finding ways to increase safety in the community. However, we are also imploring Village and Town members to take this issue as seriously as we know the campus community will.
In the past several years while covering meetings, local politics and local news in the area, we have found most community members are happy to interact with the campus community and the students who live here nine months out of the year. However, we’ve also seen community members who speak as if they are anti-student and unwilling to accept that they live in a college town.
Regardless of how community members feel about the students and the University, it needs to be accepted that we all share and cohabitate this area. Our problems are mutual problems and right now we need to address that sometimes New Paltz is not as safe as we would like it to be.
Each of the sexual assaults that have been brought to our attention in the past two years have involved at least one college student and all of them have occurred off-campus in areas lacking adequate lighting. We’re sure there are also crimes committed on campus that aren’t being reported, but most of what we hear is what happens in our shared community and it’s something we all must address immediately.
We need our local politicians and law enforcement officials to take every necessary measure to ensure our off-campus environment is a safe one. Though the locals living in New Paltz year-round are a primary concern, so too are the students who share a community with those locals for the better part of the year.
We hope the conversations started and the changes made following these incidents are handled with sensitivity and respect to the urgency of the
Now is the time for all New Paltz residents, regardless of affiliation, to come together and help one another solve this problem that has been growing and could easily become worse. It’s important that our law enforcement and officials allocate time, energy and funds to creating a safer environment.
Particularly in terms of the most recent attacks, the emphasis should be on creating the safest possible environment to prevent future incidents. We do not want to hear fear-mongering warnings against walking alone at night that put blame on innocent parties; we want thoughtful, sympathetic measures taken to protect our residents, on-campus and off.