In light of the alleged rape of a SUNY New Paltz student on Nov. 1, University Police Department (UPD) officials are stressing that students exercise caution.
Twenty-three-year-old Brennan G. Debrosky was charged with attempted rape after the New Paltz Police Department was dispatched to a multi-unit home occupied by SUNY New Paltz students at 5:30 a.m on Saturday.
While investigating, police learned that Debrosky was visiting a tenant of the home and attempted to rape the SUNY New Paltz student, according to the Daily Freeman.
University Police offered their opinions on safety both on or off campus.
Lt. Johnny G. Coxum said he believed students must always be cautious, whether they are on or off campus. He said he feels they should take the same safety precautions because both are “the same environment, so to speak.”
According to the 2009 Annual Security Report, which is published to meet the requirements of the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990 (now known as the Clery Act) SUNY New Paltz reported three forcible sex offenses on campus property in 2009. The number of forcible sex offenses has decreased over the last three years.
The report also states that in order for SUNY New Paltz to educate students about sexual offenses, all new students are given a “comprehensive orientation session on rape and sexual violence prevention” and UPD offers sexual assault education and information programs to students and employees upon request.
One of these courses is “RAD” which stands for Rape, Aggression and Defense. The course teaches female students about situations involving sexual offenses and how to react.
“We teach them not to freeze or panic during these situations,” said Coxum. “Depending if a weapon is involved they may be able to get themselves out of the situation.”
According to the New Paltz website, “RAD” is “a comprehensive course for women that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training,” and is open to students, faculty, staff or community members.
Officer Jenelle Kelsey said she advises students to trust their instincts when in potential situations that lend themselves to possible sexual violence.
“If you feel like something is not right, give us a call,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey said she believes the best way to avoid dangerous situations is to not walk alone, be aware of your surroundings and stay in well lit areas.
“Don’t go off the beaten path,” Kelsey said. “Don’t go behind buildings or bushes or places where predators can hide and easily take you away quickly.”
Coxum stressed that students should take advantage of the Police Department’s Escort service, which is designed to bring students from location to location on campus if walking alone is their only option.
According to New Paltz’s website, the service is available for students, staff and faculty at SUNY New Paltz and stops at various parts on campus.
While teaching students how to defend themselves is important, Coxum said the police’s main concern is teaching students not to get themselves into potential dangerous situations.
“If you allow yourself to get into these situations, it’s going to happen,” Coxum said. “If you’re not trained to defend yourself, most times, you are in big trouble. You may not survive.”