Reed Organizes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Roundtable at Suny Fredoina
Tom Reed was on campus at SUNY Fredonia Wednesday with a diverse group of campus, law enforcement, counseling and medical personnel listening to their experiences handling sexual assault cases and brainstorming ways to start educating students earlier, improve resources and make everyone better equipped to handle sexual assault cases, from specialized training for on-campus personnel to guidance on reporting cases to counseling for victims.
“The statistics on sexual assault in our country are troubling, particularly on college campuses where we send our sons and daughters with the expectation that they will be cared for and free from the horrors of sexual assault,” Reed said. “On college campuses here in the U.S., one in five women experience sexual assault during their college years. We went to work today to brainstorm how to start reversing that trend and make college campuses safer. If we start the conversation with students earlier in their education about appropriate relationships, we have the potential to reverse the trend we’re seeing currently.”
Representatives from SUNY Fredonia, Jamestown Community College, St. Bonaventure University, Chiefs of Police for Dunkirk and Fredonia, Jamestown Police Department representatives, local hospital personnel and advocacy organizations were all in attendance. The group of about 30 also included Assemblyman Andy Goodell, Dunkirk Mayor AJ Dolce, and a representative from County Executive Vince Horrigan’s office.
The group spent much of the time talking about the need to talk about appropriate, consensual behavior in middle school, rather than waiting until students are in high school or even college. Many in attendance felt the nation’s best chances at mitigating sexual assault means educating students about what respectful relationships look like in students’ earlier, more formative years.
Reed stressed the need for a country-wide campaign to make people aware of the sexual assault problem: “What we need to do is create a nationwide awareness campaign to generate a complete cultural shift to send the message that sexual assault in any form is one hundred percent unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The conversations about what is appropriate behavior in relationships need to start at a much younger age and needs to be directed at both genders.”
Earlier this week, Reed announced his co-sponsorship of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. The bill strengthens accountability and transparency for colleges and universities, sets stiff penalties for a school’s non-compliance, requires training for on-campus personnel and gives students access to confidential advisors to use as a resource.
Reed is heavily involved in awareness and education efforts to help curb sexual assault. Earlier this year Reed held a roundtable at Ithaca College with representatives from Cornell University, Corning Community College and area district attorney offices to listen to ways to better protect students from sexual assault on campus.
Reed also continues to work with local and national advocacy groups – including NO MORE – to speak up and out against sexual assault and domestic violence. Earlier this year Reed led his House colleagues in recognizing national NO MORE week and national Sexual Assault Awareness month.