FROM THE POUCH
Volume 1, Issue 3 – September 22, 2014
Student Issue Resolutions
A regular feature of “From the Pouch” will be updates on issues students raise. As mentioned last issue, if you have a problem that you can’t solve any other way, I want to hear about it. You can write it in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the blog. I won’t post the comment, but I will respond to you personally, and summarize the results in the next issue of the blog.
Here are some issues that came up last week:
- Two students asked about a rumor that unless you have work study, you can’t get an on campus job. Not true. If you’re looking for an on-campus job, see Courtney Bish, our Dean of Students and Chief Student Affairs Officer. Her office is in the Campus Center room 225, and her phone number is 315-386-7120.
- A student complained about the long lines in the mail room, and their not being able to find a package of his that had arrived. The director of the area was already aware of the problem and has taken steps to address it. The mail room now has longer hours, and more people have been hired to staff it. There’s been more staff training, and some software to allow for better tracking of packages has been ordered.
- A student pointed out that a toilet stall in a Campus Center men’s room that didn’t have a door on it. He didn’t mention which one, but we found one meeting that description between the Taco Bell and the Bookstore. A door has now been installed.
- A student complained about the distribution of Roo dollars on the meal plans. The change was a conscious decision to make sure that every student that lives on campus has at least one meal on campus everyday. We’re looking at other ways we can make the plans a little more flexible.
- Another student asked why the portions at Chaney Dining Hall weren’t larger. Chaney is an all you care to eat location, but we still practice portion control to keep waste and your costs down. [You don’t want to know what the meal plans would cost if every student loaded their breakfast plate with a pound of bacon!] If you want more, you can always go back for seconds, though I know that can be difficult at the lunchtime rush. There are lots of food options so at least one of the lines is usually short.
- A student and our student government have asked about the tennis courts. In the short term, the weeds in the cracks have been sprayed and are now dead. Today, the staff will shovel the high lawn areas preventing the court from draining. The court will then be scrubbed and rinsed. The work should be done by Wednesday. For the longer term, we have bids out to resurface the courts, and set them up for both tennis and basketball with new permanent fixtures. There will also be new fencing.
- A student asked about using the small soccer nets on the turf field. We’ll check with the coaches, and when they’re not in use by a team, we’ll move them to the area behind the turf field for general use. Further down the road, a new grass field that will have two soccer nets is being completed.
We’re still working a few other issues, so stay tuned.
Safety On Campus
I’m happy to tell you that compared to most campuses and other locations in the United States, SUNY Canton is a very safe place to be. The incidence of crime of any type is quite low, and we have an excellent police force on campus and in the village. That having been said, we want things to be even safer here on campus. Here are some ways you can help.
IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. If you see something that doesn’t look or feel right, contact someone who can help. That someone can be your residence hall advisor, a faculty member, campus police, or even me. It may be that a door has been propped open that shouldn’t be. It may be that you see someone pushing someone else around. It may be that you see someone staggering around who has had too much to drink. It’s way too easy to say “It’s not my problem” or “I don’t want to rat anyone out”, but in many cases, by doing nothing, you can be leaving a fellow classmate in real danger.
I’ve already heard about one incident on campus where someone was being pushed around and other students were present, but didn’t call anyone. That’s unacceptable—it’s never OK to push someone around. There are always better ways to handle a situation. If you see something, say something.
It may also be that you’ve noticed that a friend or someone on your residence hall floor is having a hard time of it. They’re on the razor’s edge. They seem depressed, they aren’t leaving their room, and their personal hygiene has deteriorated. You’re afraid something is wrong. You can let us know that you’re concerned by clicking here and filling out an anonymous referral form. We have a team of faculty and staff who meet every week to address issues like this, and only want to help. If you see something, say something.
YES MEANS YES. You may have read about various incidents of sexual violence that have occurred on other campuses. In some cases, those colleges responded well, supporting the victim while ensuring that the accused person’s rights were also respected. In other cases, the colleges didn’t do so well, leaving the victim feeling unprotected or jumping to conclusions without evidence.
At SUNY, we take the issue of sexual violence extremely seriously. We have comprehensive policies addressing how to support the victim and how to gather evidence so that the accused’s rights are protected. SUNY was the first university system to endorse Senator Gillibrand’s Campus Accountability and Safety Act bill, which provides support for victims of sexual assault on college campuses. Our own SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher made the following statement:
“SUNY has a long and unwavering commitment to combating sexual assault and we strongly support Senator Gillibrand in her efforts to make this pressing issue a national priority just as we have done here in New York. With resources, training, expert and caring staff from law enforcement to attorneys to student affairs all working together to protect and assist students, SUNY can and should be a national model. Under Senator Gillibrand’s leadership Washington is coalescing and is poised to act, making college campuses safer so we can grow our public mission of educating more students and educating them better than anywhere else in the world.”
I had the privilege of representing the SUNY presidents at Senator Gillibrand’s press conference announcing the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, and you can read her press release in its entirety here.
At SUNY Canton, our primary goal is for you to have a safe environment to study and learn in. We need all of our students to understand that yes means yes. This means that if you’re about to engage in a sexual relationship, you need to get a specific “yes” from your partner that they want to proceed before doing anything. You can’t assume that they mean “yes” by their actions. You need to ask. And most important—if your partner is drunk or otherwise incapacitated, their condition means that they CAN’T say “yes”. Only a sober person can say yes.
Too often, sexual relationships happen when one or both partners are intoxicated. Some students think that being drunk excuses them from responsibility from what happens next. It doesn’t. Aside from the obvious consequences of possible pregnancy or disease transmission, being intoxicated does not provide a defense against being prosecuted for rape. Being intoxicated does not indicate consent for sex. Yes means yes, and only a sober person can say yes.
If you engage in a sexual relationship with someone who is intoxicated, you are taking the very real risk that your partner will see things differently when they are sober. You may think they wanted to have sex. They may even say “yes”, but when they sober up, they may accuse you of having purposely gotten them drunk. You may even be accused of rape. That’s why it is important to understand: only a sober person can say yes.
When you are intoxicated, you’re not in control of your actions. Many times, people who are intoxicated do things they would never dream of doing when they’re sober. They ignore warning signs. They ignore when their partner is pushing them away. They think that pushing their partner down on the bed and forcing them to have sex is OK because in their intoxicated state, they think their partner wants it. Only a sober person can say yes. If you push someone who’s intoxicated into having sex, especially if any level of force or coercion is involved, even if you’re intoxicated yourself, you are committing rape. Dating violence and sexual assault is never the victim’s fault or responsibility. If you’re the one pushing for sex, whether you’re intoxicated or not, it’s YOUR fault and responsibility. Yes means yes, and only a sober person can say yes.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. There are some excellent websites on how to end domestic violence and sexual assault. One of the best, which also has an extensive section on the current domestic abuse issues involving the NFL, is called No More, and can be accessed here. The state of New York also has a website for its Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, which can be found here. Spend a few minutes and look them over.
DANGER ON CAMPUS. A few days ago, I got an alert on my cell phone about a dangerous situation taking place at my former college. When I was there, I had signed up to get alerts whenever something dangerous was taking place. Sometimes the alerts had to do with weather—Georgia is prone to tornadoes at certain times of the year. The one I just got had to do with a student being confronted by someone from off-campus with a knife. She ran away and was able to escape, and once she was in a safe location, called the campus police. They sent out the alert, locked down the campus, and searched for criminal.
There are a few important take-aways from this story.
First—every student should sign up for New York Alert through their UCanWeb account. That way, you’ll know when there’s an emergency on campus and be alerted as to what to do. If you haven’t signed up yet, drop everything right now and do it.
Second, even on the safest of campuses, unexpected things can happen. You should be alert to your surroundings. If you even have just a feeling that you’re being followed or are in danger, go quickly to a safe location and call the Campus Police (386-7777). Our police would much rather deal with a possible false alarm than have our students be threatened by a dangerous situation.
Third, all students should know what to do if there’s a dangerous situation. And you need to know what to do before it happens. There is a useful video prepared by the City of Houston called Run, Hide, Fight that you should watch, which tells what to do in an active shooter situation (though the advice applies to many other kinds of dangerous situations). While the chances of this happening on our campus are very small, we still want you to be prepared. Please take six minutes to watch the video. It could save your life.
The 2014 Foosball Challenge
Last Wednesday in Heritage Hall, I took part in a foosball challenge against the winning teams in each of our six residence halls. In each case, I partnered up with the dorm director and we played against the winning student team.
So how did the old man do? A respectable 3 wins and 3 losses, and two of the losses were pretty close (though I have to admit that one student team pretty much shellaced us!). Student teams that beat me and their RA won a green T-shirt that says “I beat Prez Szafran/Foosball Tournament 2014”, with a picture of a foosball man (with my face!) in the middle. It was lots of fun, and the student winners should wear their T-shirts proudly!
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s trivia contest had to do with the word “fall”. The first person getting all four correct was Kathryn Daley. Others getting all four right included Lacey Conklin, Francesco Palumbo, Laura Marlowe, Jordan McCarthy, Brittani Weaver, Andrew Baker, Kim Kurdziel, and Mackeba Campbell.
Just come by my office (6th floor of FOB) on Wednesday or later to get your prize, Kathryn. Here are the correct answers:
- What you should do before midnight on weeknights. Fall asleep.
- Rock group whose song Dance, Dance won several teen choice awards. Fall Out Boy.
- The person you blame everything on, also a 1981-1986 TV show. The Fall Guy.
- A person who was previously sober who starts drinking again has done this. Fall off the wagon.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
The temperature actually fell below freezing the other night, so the answers to today’s challenge contain the word “cold”. The first reply with the most answers right takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!
- British band whose albums “A Rush of Blood to the Head”, “X&Y”, “Viva la Vida”, “Mylo Xyloto” and “Ghost Stories” all hit #1.
- What you have if you’re afraid to do something.
- 1977 song by Foreigner, its first line ends with “you’re willing to sacrifice our love.”
- Quitting an addiction all at once.