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Documentary screening to call attention to sexual assault prevention and education policies

hunting groundSUNY New Paltz will host a screening of “The Hunting Ground,” a new documentary addressing issues of sexual assault on college campuses, April 27 at 7 p.m. in Lecture Center 102.

A panel discussion and audience Q&A in response to the film will follow the screening. Moderator Kathleen Dowley, coordinator of the department of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, will join Tanhena Pacheco Dunn, executive director for compliance & campus climate, and student panelists for a consideration of how “The Hunting Ground” fits into the framework of recent news and debate about sexual assault on American college campuses.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity to remind our community of our collective responsibility to promote a culture of respect, to report incidents, to step up as active bystanders and to support those who experience sexual violence,” said Pacheco Dunn. “Through this film and discussion we have an opportunity to expand our understanding of the impact of sexual assault on the educational environment, to discuss efforts and best practices that can help make all campuses safer and to share our practices, our resources and our message of support to all those who experience sexual violence and to those who support victims and survivors.”

This event is just one example of a number of initiatives undertaken by the Office of Student Affairs and other units at SUNY New Paltz to raise awareness among students, faculty and staff about current practices and policies that have been implemented to protect campus community members from sexual harassment and aggression.

“We take every opportunity to look at our programs and integrate more awareness and prevention efforts,” said Linda Eaton, associate vice president of student affairs. “The more we can get the information out about resources available to the campus community, the better it will be for our students.”

Student outreach at New Paltz begins at first-year orientation, when new students attend a sexual assault prevention module that defines key terms and covers topics including consent, relationships, alcohol, misperceived cues, and laws and College policies pertaining to sexual contact. Continuing education is mandatory for all student leaders, including residence assistants, orientation leaders, student mentors and counsellors at OASIS and HAVEN, all student athletes and fraternity and sorority members and candidates. Similar training has been designed (and in some cases is mandated) for New Paltz professional staff members.

“Our work is to empower those people on the front lines to step up, in terms of reporting and referral, and I think it’s been very effective,” said Dean of Students Robin Cohen-La Valle. “We want to ensure that no matter where or when a student first reports an incident, someone will be there to talk with them about their options.”

This screening is brought to campus by UUP, with support from the Student Affairs Division, the Office of Compliance and Campus Climate and various academic departments.

“After several members of the New Paltz chapter of United University Professions (UUP) saw screenings of The Hunting Ground, they agreed it was an essential film to show on campus,” said Vice President for Faculty of the UUP Anne R. Roschelle. “Given the high rates of sexual assault on college campuses, UUP saw the showing of this film as an opportunity to advocate for students.”

More information about “The Hunting Ground” and about sexual harassment and assault policies at SUNY New Paltz can be accessed online.