The campus of Hobart and William Smith on the shore of Seneca Lake is now in the national spotlight after a New York Times report criticized the school's response to a sexual assault complaint last fall.
An 18 year old Hobart and William Smith student told the New York Times that she was sexually assaulted by football players in September of 2013 at a dance hall near campus, but after an on-campus judicial hearing the Times report says that the accused students were cleared. The story, written by the Times, portrays the school as unprepared to handle the serious consequences of a sexual assault on campus, and questions whether the schools judicial board properly understood the evidence. Some students on Hobart and William Smithâ??s campus feel that the way the schoolâ??s administration handled the case and its aftermath is very troubling.
"It's been rough to see our school not acknowledge there is a problem, they say we're doing our best but there is a rape culture here on campus and it's tough to see the administration not acknowledge it at all,â?? said recent Hobart and William Smith graduate Jessica Lynn.
The Times investigation into the assault allegations was front page news , and some current students hope the rest of the country doesn't judge Hobart and William Smith based just on this report. "They're definitely working to fix the issue if there is any issue and make it better for everyone," said incoming freshman Dylan Doeblin.
CNYCentral asked the school to do an interview on camera, but they only released a statement. In it, the school says Geneva police were notified within an hour of the sexual assault being reported, and that the school has handled seven sexual misconduct cases in the past two years with four students being expelled.
In the statement, the college president also says the Times article is â??a story that unfairly portrays the Colleges and belittles the urgency and seriousness with which we address reported violations of our community standards."
Jessica Lynn says many schools need to reconsider how they approach issues of sexual assault on campus, and hopes the case highlighted in the New York Times will lead to changes nationwide."It's terrible that [the alleged victim] had to go through this in order to become that agent for change but I think this the kind of spurring that our school and other schools needed to amend their policies on rape," said Lynn.
In a statement, Hobart and William Smith say the school is auditing its current sexual misconduct policy this summer. According to the school, faculty, staff, students, parents and alumni will be a part of that process.
In May, the Department of Education announced that Hobart and William Smith were one of 55 schools under investigation for potentially violating federal guidelines designed to prevent sexual harassment.