SUNY approves sexual assault prevention resolution

By Rebecca Anzel, Giselle Barkley and Hanaa’ Tameez

(STATESMAN STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged SUNY to pass a resolution outlining sexual assault prevention and response practices. (STATESMAN STOCK PHOTO)

The State University of New York is taking steps to better combat sexual assault and violence across its 64 campuses. At Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s urging, the SUNY Board of Trustees passed a resolution on Friday, Oct. 2 to create a uniform set of prevention and response practices.

“I don’t need to suggest, and it would not be accurate for anyone to suggest, that this is a SUNY problem,” he said. “It is not. This is a societal problem. This is Harvard and Yale and Princeton, Albany and Buffalo and Oswego. It is not SUNY’s problem by origination. I would suggest it should be SUNY’s problem to solve and SUNY’s place to lead.”

The resolution requires all SUNY campuses to adopt an identical definition of consent; a policy to protect victims of a sexual abuse crime from being punished for a student code of conduct violation like underage alcohol consumption or drug use; and the Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, which would provide victims with his or her rights, a list of resources and steps for reporting the incident, according to the memorandum. The document also specifies SUNY will work to organize a training course for each campus’ police force and administrators to address handling sexual assault incidents as well as “a public campaign to increase awareness among students and parents.”

The resolution comes during the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) investigation into the way one of SUNY’s campuses, Stony Brook University, handles Title IX complaints. As part of the 1972 Education Act, Title IX is a federal clause prohibiting discrimination based on gender at any federally-funded educational institution. The investigation into SBU began on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

This is not the first time OCR opened a case into SUNY’s Title IX compliance. An investigation in December 2010 into the 29 state-operated SUNY institutions—including Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Purchase and Stony Brook—was closed in September 2013 after OCR and SUNY reached an agreement that detailed 13 improvements the SUNY system was required to implement, according to a Department of Education (DOE) press release.

One of those improvements is a mandate that each SUNY institution designate a Title IX coordinator. At Stony Brook University, Marjolie Leonard holds that position.  According to Leonard, her role is not only to get involved with sexual assault cases, but also to oversee the university’s risk management program.

“[My role is] also to have a pulse on the campus community and see if there are any trends or any things we need to address,” Leonard said, “whether it’s more training, whether it’s looking at our policy and does our policy reflect our practice, and does our practice reflect the need of the campus population.”

It is unknown what Leonard and the Stony Brook administration’s role will be in implementing the different aspects of the newly passed resolution, what the impact of these changes will be on the university or the how long it will take these improvements to be enforced across its campuses.

According to Stony Brook’s Media Relations Officer Lauren Sheprow, the new resolution lines up with similar programs that already exist on campus.

“The statewide policy introduced by Governor Cuomo and the new SUNY [Board of Trustees] resolution are aligned with many initiatives that are already underway at Stony Brook,” she said in an email.  “[This includes] awareness, prevention and education programs (i.e., Red Watch Band, CPO lesson during the 101 courses, Rape Aggression Defense [RAD] Programs, crime prevention awareness sessions about sexual assault, etc.); providing several types of training for students and employees; administering a campus-wide climate survey to all students that is systematically linked to our prevention work; and having a comprehensive definition of consent in our Student Code of Conduct.”

Sheprow added Stony Brook is anticipating further guidance from SUNY on the action items listed in the resolution but will also “monitor mandates and guidance from federal and state agencies.”

Wolfstock 2014

Wolfstock 2014, the highly anticipated SBU event of the Fall semester as it is widely celebrated throughout campus, kicked off Tuesday, Sept. 23 with the Homecoming King and Queen Creative Explosion and continued through Homecoming night on Saturday, Sept. 27. Annual SBU traditions such as the Hoopla Carnival and the Apple Market were held during Campus Life Time on Wednesday, and clubs and organizations got to show off their talent at the Seawolves Showcase on Friday night. See the entire week, leading up to Homecoming night, in video and photos.

Sports Highlights: Seawolves ground and pound to first win of season

“It’s nice to be in the win column,” Stony Brook football’s Head Coach Chuck Priore said after his team pulled out their first victory of the season. Led by 300 yards rushing and 100-yard efforts by both Stacey Bedell and James Kenner, the Seawolves were able to rebound from a sluggish first quarter to control the ground and earn a 20-3 victory over the American International Yellow Jackets on Saturday night at LaValle Stadium.

This was the first time the Seawolves put together a 300-yard rushing attack since they put up 446 against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 29, 2011. It was also the first time that two Stony Brook running backs ran for 100 yards each since Miguel Maysonet and Marcus Coker each hit triple digits against Villanova on Nov. 24, 2012.

“We knew coming in that we were going to run the football,” Priore said.

Bedell was able to put together 130 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game late in the third quarter. Kenner came right in and picked up where Bedell left off, picking up 102 yards on 10 carries. Bedell’s night was highlighted by a 72-yard touchdown run in which he bounced to the right sideline and took it to the house to start the scoring in the game with 7:58 to go in the second quarter.

“They were shooting the inside gaps, and I bounced it to the outside which was wide open,” Bedell, a sophomore UMass transfer, said.

This touchdown was the fifth-longest rushing touchdown in the Division I history of the Seawolves.

(SONGGENG ZHANG / THE STATESMAN)

Stacey Bedell (21) carried the ball 72 yards for the fifth longest rushing touchdown in Seawolves history. (SONGGENG ZHANG / THE STATESMAN)

The rotating cycle of quarterbacks continued in this game, as John Kinder and Conor Bednarski split drives in the opening half, with Bednarski finishing the game by taking all of the drives in the second half.

This game also had some personal significance to it, as Priore and American International head man Art Wilkins have a history that started long before this game. Coach Wilkins recruited Priore to go to Bucknell back when Priore was at Maria Regina High School.

The Seawolves offense was sluggish in the first quarter, only producing 47 yards, all of them rushing.

American International was able to outgain Stony Brook in the quarter, accumulating 63 yards.

After some refocusing, the Seawolves were able to get their act together, producing 123 yards in the second quarter, which included Bedell’s TD run on the first play of their second drive of the quarter.

“From there on, we did what we needed to do,” Priore said.

Stony Brook was able to double the lead later in the quarter, when Bedell bounced outside again and took it to the house on 1st and goal from the two-yard line. This came after a defensive pass interference penalty on Mike Ford on 3rd and goal extended the drive.

“Being at Stony Brook, we have so many talented running backs,” Kenner said.

The only points for American International came on a Jared Hulsey 23-yard field goal. This drive was kept alive by an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Seawolves on 4th and 18 when the Yellow Jackets were getting ready to punt.

“I own those three points right now,” Priore said. “Those fall on my shoulders.”

That was one of eight penalties for the Seawolves on the night, resulting in 90 yards.

“We have to stay away from crucial penalties, but those are apart of the growing pains,” the ninth-year coach said.

Three plays after the penalty, Shawn Brathwaite completed a pass to Stephan Davis, who spun off a tackle and took the ball 62 yards to the Stony Brook 7-yard line before Christian Ricard took him down from behind.

“We work on taking angles every day in practice and I was able to take a good one,” Ricard said.

Kenner finished the game’s scoring when he pounded in a touchdown run from three yards out to finish off a nine-play, 81-yard march down the field to make it 20-3.

Stony Brook’s defense was able to play very well again, matching the physicality of an American International team that made the Division II playoffs a year ago, holding them to just 196 yards of total offense.

“This was more physical than the UConn game believe it or not,” Priore said.

Ricard led the way again, recording nine tackles, seven solo, with three of them behind the line of scrimmage along with a sack. Ricard’s was one of five in the game for the Seawolves.

Naim Cheeseboro played very well, as he recorded six tackles and also intercepted a pass and forced a fumble against the Yellow Jackets.

“Our brand of football is what you saw tonight, running the football and playing very hard on defense,” Priore said.

The Seawolves will look to continue that brand of defense when they head to Grand Forks, ND on Sept. 21 to take on the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota in their last non-conference game of the season.