Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recent CUNY news and policy updates

SGC would like to acknowledge the recent NY Post article that exposes a few CUNY schools in violation of complete compliance with the Clery Act and would like to present healthy dialogue on how this finding affects the inclusive policy process we have continually advocated for.

Under the Clery Act, mandated crimes to be reported include sex crimes that are forcible and non-forcible, such as rapes and sexual assaults. While this is a legal obligation of the school, it is only a superficial level of addressing the issue of sexual violence. Certainly, a college reporting sexual assaults on campus indicates a reasonable attempt of the college to openly acknowledge any incidences that have occurred. What is more salient, however, is that a college focus on preventing the atmosphere that allows for these crimes to happen.

The process for obtaining a CUNY-wide sexual assault policy has been so far a year and 2 months in counting and is expected to culminate with an approved policy by the Board of Trustees of CUNY in November. Some may wonder why has it taken so long?

The answer is not as one would probably be led to think.

From our point of view, CUNY could have simply accepted the idea of having a sexual assault policy and produced one within a few months. After all, it is mandated for colleges to have a sexual assault policy and this provides CUNY with a way to cover all 23 campuses. However, this process has considered many perspectives on ways to address sexual violence in an effort to not only have a mandated policy, but to have one that is holistic in it's approach to reduce the atmosphere of sexual violence that happens on campuses. Make no mistake about it that is an incredible responsibility and one that SGC helps to shoulder with great resolve. It is important to get this right, to set a precendent that CUNY has the foresight and will to ensure its students are fully protected from all angles of the law, and psychosocial considerations.

SGC will be holding a town hall meeting on October 22nd at Queens College to discuss the affect of the policy for practical implementation and to advance the dialogue surrounding sexual violence to get students to critically analyze the policy for constructive feedback. We look forward to updating you as the date approaches.

The taskforce expects to have a meeting to review the latest policy draft (which includes provisions for stalking) in late October.

To building a greater CUNY,

Elischia Fludd
Students for a Greater CUNY (SGC)

Become involved! Email us at cunypolicy08@gmail.com.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Alternate Perspectives

Update on Sexual Assault at Hofstra’s Campus

In order to blog about the updates of this case, I had to take a moment and reflect on the various responses I personally had to this case and what I was hearing from individuals. The first distinction I want to draw is the language used to frame the topic. The initial article had presented the gang rape that occurred as a sexual assault. However, in the article where the female who alleged the attacks stated the encounter was consensual, the article is titled, “Hofstra Student Recants Claim of Gang Rape.” I draw attention to these titles because language is a powerful tool on how we frame a topic. When the assumption was that the case was true, the language framed a brutal gang rape as a sexual assault, which dilutes the act for readers. However, in an article where the female stated the encounter was consensual, it took a harsher tone and actually stated what the female had alleged, which adds to the myth that females allege things like gang rape, for it is such a rare occurrence that they never really happen. In addition, the article painted the female as a criminal where the prosecutor has decided to launch a criminal investigation on her. And for the purpose of the media and press attention, the case has been closed.

Let us look at this case through two different angles and what it means for our policy. Primarily it is a horrible incident for any individual to go through a gang rape. It is also horrible to be falsely accused of being a rapist, for in our society that comes with a lifetime stigma, if one is caught and prosecuted. This is important to point out for we know that only 6% of rapists will ever spend a single day in jail (RAINN.ORG). If one is prosecuted, and is wrongfully put in prison and jail, they are categorized as among the most sensitive populations and are in need of protective custody. If and when these individuals are released, they are placed on sex offender registry for the rest of their life. In New York, a debate is raging on whether to civilly commit sex offenders. What this means is that once sex offenders are finishing up their prison or jail sentences, because they may be deemed to be a danger to society, they can be placed in hospitals and facilities for the mentally ill for as long as the psychologists deem it necessary. Therefore, the result of someone living with the label of a sex offender while they did not commit the crime is very serious. Therefore, any policy dealing with sexual assault must include provisions and mechanisms for handling false accusations of sexual assault, and the rights of the accused. However, this is just one way of processing the Hofstra Case.

Another way of looking at the Hofstra Case is by trying to look at this situation from the eyes of the eighteen year old who stated she had been gang raped. One is a sophomore at college, went out to a party, and is gang raped on a campus with thousands of students. One is still trying to process the events that happened in one’s safe space. And we as students do consider our schools as places where we are more comfortable than we are walking on the street, and do consider it part of our more safe areas to be in. Since Hofstra is a dorm, then one feels a sense of safety, as they may feel around their own neighborhood, or areas one is not constantly looking over their shoulder. One is a student and has been violated in their safe space, not to mention being tied up and then begging five men to let one go, and yet they still assault. The next thing one knows is the media is all over it, the police and the prosecutor are involved and arrests are being made. Police officers and the prosecutor are asking you to repeat the same traumatic story over and over again. They are asking you every single detail. Why were you here? Why did you run after him and not call security? Did you scream for help? Where are the bruises on your arm? How did the men look like? Are you honestly telling is no one was around.

Just imagine being gang raped, and then having to prove to different people that you were actually gang raped. When we go through something very traumatic, are we systematically asked why?who?when?where? Yet, if a victim of sexual assault, whether it is gang rape, stranger rape, incest, marital rape, has to prove to police officers, detectives, and a prosecutor that she or he went through the incident. Maybe the reason she said it was consensual was because she didn’t want to go through the billions of questions. This point is important to note because in any sexual assault policy we have a victim should have the right to drop a complaint if they do not want to go through the process, even if they have initiated it, without the fear that dropping the complaint will equate to being criminally investigated for lying or being categorized as a liar and criminal; for, then we have only continued the same cycle of blaming the victim rather than empowering them.

Become involved! Email us at cunypolicy08@gmail.com. We currently have an immediate need for:

* A skilled technician with software to make jpeg files to post letters of support on the tracker
* A graphic arts designer to help our website designer
* Skilled media savvy persons to chronicle CUNY's progress for the students on campus blogs, radio and television.
* Organizations and individuals to endorse our cause (willing to sign a letter of support)
* Organizations and individuals to join Students for a Greater CUNY as a member

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reflections on the Gang Rape on Hofstra's Campus

Current Events: Gang Rape on Hofstra’s Campus

The Associated Press on September 15, 2009 reported they were covering a sexual assault of an eighteen year old college student. The ironic thing is AP did not recognize that the eighteen year old’s sexual assault is actually a gang rape, which shows us that either the term was too strong for the AP to include in their article, or they themselves were not aware what type of sexual assault actually occurred, The NYC Alliance against Sexual Violence definition of gang rape is “Forced or coerced sexual activities by two or more persons known or unknown to the victim (http://www.nycagainstrape.org/survivors_factsheet_113.html).”
The facts of the case include the following:
· Police stated the eighteen year old student was at a dance party at an on-campus nightclub;
· The female had danced with one of the suspects, and he snatched her cell-phone and ran away with it;
· The female ran after the assailant, while screaming she wanted her phone back;
· The assailant then entered the dormitory and went inside an elevator where the female followed him.
· Once he walked out of the elevator, the man met another acquaintance;
· The two men then tied the girl’s hands with a rope and took her into the men’s bathroom where they sexually assaulted her and left her;
· Three men later entered the men’s room, and the female pleaded with the newcomers for help, and all three men also sexually assaulted her one by one;
· The police have identified one of the men, Rondell Bedward, 21, from the Bronx, who was the only Hofstra student, and had signed in the other four as his guests in the dormitory.

This case brings up many questions and presents how college campuses can serve as places where non-students can perpetrate a crime. The perpetrators had methodically planned out the gang rape, for they actually lured the victim by stealing her cell phone, and then tying her up. Such a crime shows planning. We also have to admit that this case shows the failure of campus security, and most deplorably the failure of fellow students, staff, and faculty. This occurred in a dormitory, which is inhabited by students. Where were the students who lived in these dormitories? Are students that dismissive and apathetic of their surroundings that a woman can get gang-raped, and no one even intervenes, or even hears about it? I am not blaming Hofstra or anyone for what occurred, and it must be noted this event can occur on any college campus, and sadly does occur. But what we must draw attention to is the lack of awareness on the issue of sexual assault on campuses. If students , staff, and faculty are more aware, then we are more aware of such an incident occurring, which means we can prevent sexual assaults from occurring. I am not advocating for being paranoid and monitoring everything that goes on around you, but I am advocating for the spread of awareness of crimes that occur on college campuses, and realizing that just because it is a college campus does not mean individuals who do not attend the campus cannot commit crimes on the campus.

Become involved! Email us at cunypolicy08@gmail.com. We currently have an immediate need for:

* A skilled technician with software to make jpeg files to post letters of support on the tracker
* A graphic arts designer to help our website designer
* Skilled media savvy persons to chronicle CUNY's progress for the students on campus blogs, radio and television.
* Organizations and individuals to endorse our cause (willing to sign a letter of support)
* Organizations and individuals to join Students for a Greater CUNY as a member

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Memory So Dark But Vivid

A Memory So Dark But Vivid
Gestures on familiar faces,
some frightened,
some sad,
and some judgmental.
The memories still dwells in my mental,
of a stolen soul.
It feels like it was just yesterday,
one of our many visits to the race track.
The soft country breeze on the back of my neck,
added to the moisture in the air.
There many ways to describe the aroma in the air,
but not that of the almond tree,
rather the smell of stench,
of a gruesome injustice.
Flies were in a frenzy,
and maggots felt at home.
We knew someone has done this,
but no names written in stone.
Her womanhood was destroyed,
the sight of rotten flesh,
the discoloring of her blood,
upon her beaten chest.
She wasnt that popular with folks of descent trends,
the love she shared around,
brought her life to an end.
They ripped up her tunnel of life,
leaving a viscous imprint,
with a gun shot wound to her head,
this left a deadly dent.
Her remains dried in the sun like raisons,
this forced me to continue thinking.
Will i forever see this image?
day beak to sunrise,
while I sleep or when I have risen.
The answer is YES!

Become involved! Email us at cunypolicy08@gmail.com. We currently have an immediate need for:

* A skilled technician with software to make jpeg files to post letters of support on the tracker
* A graphic arts designer to help our website designer
* Skilled media savvy persons to chronicle CUNY's progress for the students on campus blogs, radio and television.
* Organizations and individuals to endorse our cause (willing to sign a letter of support)
* Organizations and individuals to join Students for a Greater CUNY as a member

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dating Violence and Sexual Violence:You are not Alone

This piece will focus on Dating Violence and Sexual Violence, and is part of the larger project that Students for A Greater CUNY has embarked on, which is a larger series of blogs that fall under the topic of What is Sexual Violence: Definitions, Myths, and Facts. In our first blog, we brought some definitions of sexual assault, stranger rape, and non-stranger rape. While we will be bringing different definitions of sexual assault and the contexts they occur in, it is very important to mention that defining the different forms of sexual violence and the context they occur in has its own ramifications. Primarily, definitions of various types of sexual assaults sometimes create hierarchies of the severity of sexual assault. For example, some individuals may feel rape is more serious than molestation, or being raped by a stranger is worst than being raped by a boyfriend. We are not here to create debates on what is worst, or bring you definitions that encompass everything, or categories of sexual assault, for that hurts our ultimate goal of changing the dialogue on sexual violence. For example, rape and sexual assault are defined much narrowly in the legal world than the social work field. What we want to do is to begin to look at these definitions, which differ from field to field. We may want to think why that is the case, and what are the positive aspects of this and what are the negative aspects of having such narrow definitions. And we want to challenge and critically think about whether these definitions are inclusive of victims and survivors of sexual assault. If they are inclusive, who are they inclusive of, and if they are not inclusive, then who do we leave out. These are questions that we challenge everyone to think about.

Dating Violence and Sexual Violence : YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Dating Violence : Includes sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse in the context of an intimate relationship. (NYC ALLIANCE AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT)

"What I know now is that if I had known I wasn’t alone, I may have been able to help him and to help myself. I usually have one message for young people who may go through something similar: You are not alone." -female teen dating violence survivor

"Now I know how cruel people can be when they take you for granted and do sexual things to you without your okay to do it…" -17-year-old female

In June 2008, the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault published a report titled, "Partners and Peers: Sexual and Dating Violence Among NYC Youth," which found SEXUAL AND DATING VIOLENCE ARE EXTREMELY COMMON AMONG NYC YOUTH. The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, in their study focusing on dating violence among public high school students, found the following findings:

These statistics only looked at results from a study on dating violence in NYC. Let us look at some national statistics of sexual and dating violence among teens and college age students.

All of these harrowing statistics just represent the tip of the iceberg in respect to prevalence of sexual violence among young individuals. We honestly do not have a clear idea of how many individuals are truly suffering from sexual violence and being in abusive relationships. In addition, these statistics do not offer a breakdown or even mention other populations, such as males, transgender, gay, and lesbians. Let us take the topic of dating violence further. How about the overwhelming majority of individuals who have grown up seeing their parents, care-takers, or siblings in violent relationships. These individuals are as much effected by being present in the abusive relationship, even if they are not the intimate partner who is the victim. Do we honestly think a child who grows up to become a teenager under a mother or a father in an abusive relationship is not going to be effected? Therefore, as mentioned before dating violence is not occurring in a vacuum. There are much more subtle and nuanced ways that we define relationships in our culture that are having an adverse effect on the way individuals are engaging in relationships. Since no one is born as an abuser or a victim, then there cultural and social aspects of the way we define relationships, which is based on power, coercion, and control, that are leading to dating violence relationships. Silencing or brushing the issue to the side is not helping, for these young individuals will grow into being adults without understanding that dating violence is not supposed to be the norm. Therefore, our culture and our society bear the responsibility for what is occurring.

"It has made me a very sad and depressed person. I have trouble trusting"-17 year old female

"I feel that it is too fuckin' horrible and that if I am walking down the street and guy is sexually abusing a girl, I would kill him"-15 year old male

"It didn't affect me, I just blank it out."-17 year old female

"It has changed me and has hurt me a lot emotionally."-16 year old male

"The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault develops and advances strategies, policies and responses that prevent sexual violence and limit its destabilizing effects on victims, families and communities. As the only sexual violence organization in the country conducting primary research on sexual violence, we are in a unique position to raise public awareness and create sustainable change( http://www.nycagainstrape.org/research.html)."