On Tuesday, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler announced that a grant of $3,500 will be provided to Newburgh’s Mount Saint Mary College in support of their participation in the White House’s It’s On Us anti-sexual assault initiative. The money will provide the school with tools to raise awareness toward sexual-assault prevention on campus, as well as funding for speakers and educational literature. Grant money was comprised of funds forfeited from criminal activity to the DA’s Office.
“They came to us asking for assistance to better their program, and we were happy to help and come together with this collaboration,” Robert J. Conflitti, Counsel to the DA,” tells Hudson Valley. “They had many of their own ideas that we look forward to putting into action.”
Conflitti elaborates that some of those ideas will likely include T-shirts, brochures, pamphlets, posters, and flyers for campus-run programs, as well as the possibility of bringing in a speaker on the dangers of alcohol and decision-making by next summer. “We’d also like to create hang tags to build on to our Gotcha Program,” adds Michael O’Keefe, Mount Saint Mary’s Executive Director of Operations and Risk Management. He explains that, “Basically, we do surprise check-ups in our student apartments throughout the year to make sure that everyone’s locking their doors. If we find that someone’s door is unlocked, we’ll leave the tag on the door handle, letting the student know why it’s important to lock their doors and how it could help prevent the event of a sexual assault.”
By participating in It’s On Us, Mount Saint Mary’s joins 200 colleges and universities across the nation that have rallied around the Obama administration’s campaign. Its efforts are also a continuation of what Orange County set in motion last December when it became the first county nationwide to launch an organized It’s On Us program. That’s in addition to coming on the heels of a recent, statewide sexual assault-prevention initiative, Enough is Enough, which granted $140,000 to Ulster County colleges, SUNY New Paltz, and SUNY Ulster to hire an on-campus crisis counselor and victims’ advocate.
The prevailing hope, according to O’Keefe, is that, “This grant will assist the Mount in maintaining its positive campus culture that fosters respect for each student,” ultimately helping “ensure a healthy environment where every student can succeed.”