Aid Arrives for SUNY Sexual-Assault Victims

New Paltz and Ulster granted funds help rehabilitate students

With the recent Stanford University rape case re-igniting the national conversation around sexual assault on college campuses, local leaders have taken action to ensure that victimized Hudson Valley SUNY students have access to proper aid and assistance. In Ulster County, a $140,000 grant was awarded earlier this week via the state’s “Enough is Enough” legislation to hire a crisis counselor for SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Ulster.

“This new program is an important first step that will provide victims with an independent resource they can feel comfortable going to and they will have confidence that their voice will be heard and all appropriate actions are taken,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein at a press conference.

The initiative will place Cynthia Craft—a crime victims’ advocate in the Ulster County Probation Department and a counselor within the Ulster County Crime Victims Assistance Program—on the two campuses, which have a combined total of 11,200 students. Craft will serve as a certified rape-crisis counselor while also helping victims throughout the legal process. In addition, she will continually educate students and administrators on sexual assault and consent.

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While New Paltz has a comprehensive set of procedures already in place, President Donald Christian is investing in further measures to better protect students. “We take seriously issues of sexual violence and its grave impact on students and the broader campus community,” said Christian in a statement. “Our training for students and staff, and resources for victims, helps to meet our collective responsibility.”

Likewise, SUNY Ulster President Alan Roberts expressed his gratitude for the initiative, commenting, “We applaud the leadership and support from Governor Cuomo and the vision of County Executive Hein to provide us with additional resources and expertise to address an issue that impacts all sectors of our society.”

Is this a step in the right direction, or are there larger, preventative issues that need to be better addressed as well? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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