Cazenovia College Response to Aug. 7 Syracuse.com Story on Sexual Assaults

Date: 
Friday, August 8, 2014 - 8:15am
Dear Students, Parents, Trustees, Alumni, Faculty and Staff,

Yesterday, Syracuse.com released a story that is contrary to the image we all have of Cazenovia College and our campus community. In an effort to localize a growing national concern – sexual assaults on college campuses – the article provided a misleading perception of Cazenovia College. Its headline, “Cazenovia College has more reported sex offenses per student than any other college in New York state” is based on what College officials truly believe is misleading data.

The article states that “Cazenovia College, which has an enrollment of about 1,000 students, reported 12 forcible sex offenses in 2010, 2011, 2012” or “a rate of offenses of 12.12 per 1,000 students.” It is important to clarify that this total of 12 reported cases was made over a three-year period, yet Syracuse.com chose to base their sex offense per student rate on one year of enrollment, 1,000 students in Cazenovia College’s case. An accurate computation based on the College reported numbers should have stated that Cazenovia College experienced an average rate of 4 reported sexual offenses per 1,000 students per year.

The article does eventually get to the matter of federally mandated reporting and the Clery Act, which requires all colleges and universities to self-report offenses on and off campus. We take this very seriously at Cazenovia College and as I shared with Syracuse.com, Cazenovia College's per student rate of reported sex offenses may be higher than other colleges because we strive to educate our students about sexual misconduct, and encourage our students and employees to report all sex offenses. We report everything and strive to keep the issue at the forefront so that students are educated, aware and supported. I assure you that Cazenovia College is investing heavily in safety and security; we train our staff and educate and empower our students from the first week they arrive on campus to report offenses to us. This is clearly supported by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who is referenced in the Syracuse.com article and in a recent Washington Post article as being “more concerned about schools with no reported offenses than those with many,” and wonders “whether the schools with zero reports are doing enough to encourage victims to step forward.”

Something not stressed nearly enough in the Aug. 7 Syracuse.com article is Cazenovia College’s small student population, which helps facilitate strong relationships/positive connections between our students and the staff, faculty and administrators, which has a profound impact on the College’s self-reporting. Employees get to know students as individuals, not just as students attending classes or living in a residence hall. As such, many students at Cazenovia College feel comfortable in sharing and discussing a wide range of topics with staff, including issues related to sexual misconduct. When our students share incidents that may or may not be founded as incidents of sexual assault/misconduct/violence – staff members (Resident Advisors, club advisors, Student Life staff, etc.) report these incidents to Campus Safety as required under the Clery Act. Cazenovia College strives to be as transparent as possible about these types of incidents on campus, while maintaining the highest level of campus/student safety and confidentiality. That is, and will continue to be, a priority for the College.

How is Cazenovia College ensuring the safety of our students?

Cazenovia College is acting swiftly in light of the recent reports and will be implementing the following new initiatives for the 2014-2015 academic year, aimed at educating and protecting our students.
 
  • During New Student Orientation later this month, all incoming first year and transfer students will attend Bystander Intervention Training, facilitated by training staff from Liberty Resources (Victims of Violence Program). Students will also participate in a new national program – Student Empower – that addresses topics such as sexual violence, “Men as Allies”, concepts of Consent/No-Consent, and use of drugs and alcohol.
     
  • All students on campus will be encouraged to attend a campus-wide program – “Nonviolent Sexuality: Making Peace with Passion.” The program will be presented on September 10th and is designed to encourage a campus dialogue on sex, conflict, alcohol and intimacy.
     
  • Cazenovia College is also spearheading the creation and implementation of a CNY Title IX Roundtable. The goal is to create a forum for vested constituents to discuss, share, learn and collaborate on all types of issues related to sexual respect on college campuses. Tentative discussion items include: collaborative student training opportunities; strategies for developing a positive working relationship with local law enforcement; responses to sexual assaults involving students; policy development related to required new/pending legislation; etc. Cazenovia College has already hosted the first Roundtable on July 23, 2014.
     
Cazenovia College is committed to establishing strong partnerships with community resources, strengthening communications with local law enforcement, and enhancing our internal policies, procedures and student training/educational programs to ensure we fully comply with all new legislative requirements. Most importantly, our goal is to gain a better understanding of sexual misconduct on campus, implement stronger prevention programs and judicial enforcement, and preserve the safety and security on campus for all of our students.


Sincerely,

Wayne Westervelt
Vice President for Marketing & Communications