President Christian Attends White House Meeting

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

SUNY New Paltz became one of the few colleges to be represented at the White House through a new sexual assault task force event.

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian journeyed to the nation’s capitol with other selected college presidents on Tuesday, April 29, to listen to presenters address concerns about sexual assault and violence on college and university campuses, a New Paltz press release said.

This government task force was created as part of a new federal initiative to curb such crimes, according to “Not Alone,” The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault.

According to the report, one in five women is sexually assaulted in college.

“Most often, it’s by someone she knows – and also most often, she does not report what happened,” the report stated. “Many survivors are left feeling isolated, ashamed or to blame. Although it happens less often, men, too, are victims of these crimes.”

The task force that organized the event is co-chaired by the Office of the Vice President, Joe Biden, and the White House Council on Women and Girls, according to the report.

Others present at Tuesday’s event included other higher education representatives, leadership of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Task Force members, Cabinet members, several senators, including United States Senator for New York Kirsten Gillibrand, victim advocacy groups and students, according to the press release.

“Preparing for this event reinforced for me the tremendous work that SUNY New Paltz has done and is doing to support victims, provide clear and equitable processes and broadly educate and train members of our community to prevent sexual violence on our campus and in our community,” Christian said in a press release.

The task force report highlighted four first steps needed to be taken in the fight against sexual assault; Identifying the problem through campus climate surveys, preventing sexual assault through programs, research and engaging men, effectively responding when a student is sexually assaulted and increasing transparency and improving enforcement.

Locally, SUNY New Paltz recently underwent an Office of Civil Rights (OCR) review of the college’s policies and practices as part of a SUNY-wide audit, according to the press release. The OCR review of five years of New Paltz records found that there were no cases of sexual assault or violence that required more investigation, as it was handled according to OCR standards.

“Not only did the OCR review indicate that we handled cases by OCR standards, but also that our longstanding practices, sharpened by the OCR review, are aligned with current federal expectations,” Christian said in the press release.

However, he noted there is room for improvement.

The task force report can be found on the White House government website.