Security changes en route
Although the alleged sexual assault on campus may have never taken place, the Marist community is taking many steps to increase security and safety awareness around campus. Marist Security has already begun to make some security changes near the East Campus bridge. Student Government is taking several initiatives to keep students safer and more aware.
Security has increased patrols until 8 a.m. near the East Campus bridge. Additionally, security will keep a car posted near the Steel Plant, Eric Zeyher, Vice President of Student Life and member of the state mandated security council, said.
Despite these security changes on East Campus, Zeyher along with others in SGA recognize that a sexual assault could have happened anywhere on campus. Consequently, security improvements are being made elsewhere on campus.
Previously the gates by the construction site at Lower Fulton were kept unlocked, but now they are being locked every night. Lighting on campus has been an issue for many students, and now additional lighting is currently being installed in the Beck parking lot. Also, security is looking into purchasing smaller vehicles so that they can navigate the East Campus bridge and the sidewalks on campus.
In an effort to increase awareness of safety services that Marist already has, students received informational pamphlets about the Student Auxiliary Patrol, or SNAP, in their campus mailboxes.
"SNAP," the pamphlets explain, "is designed to provide the Marist Community with a safe means to travel around the campus at night.The most important responsibility of the S.N.A.P. Safewalkers is to provide walking escorts to the Marist Community in a safe and respectful manner."
SGA has several ideas to decrease the potential for crime on campus.
"They've been pretty responsive to what we've been trying to get done," Zeyher said.
Before the last state mandated security meeting, members of SGA met to prepare a list of suggestions for security.
"We wanted to put together a list of things that we could suggest to the administration, and make sure that the students use all of the available resources that they have, aka SNAP patrols," Resident Senator Steve Townsend said.
Students should "be proactive, travel in groups, and be aware of their surroundings," said Zeyher.
The current safety situation on campus is not acceptable for some members of SGA.
"It's completely unacceptable that there are places on campus that people don't feel safe," Matt Reiman, Speaker of Student Senate, said during a student Senate meeting where senators shared thoughts in light of the alleged rape.
Consequently, SGA is examining the best way to make the Marist community more aware of sexual assault.
"We're looking about getting a speaker to come in," Townsend said. "Last year a speaker came in.and talked about rape and self defense."
Also, SGA hopes to collaborate with athletics to host an event to raise awareness for sexual assault.
"We want to figure out a way to get a program in and have a sponsorship of a game, an awareness night," Townsend said.
Zeyher noted another program meant to raise awareness on sexual assault.
"The Midrise RSC they're actually doing a program with the Vagina Monologues," he said. "It's a passive program; their just basically just handing out cards."
These cards will be Valentine's Day themed and will encourage consensual sex and the power of "no."
Student government is printing small cards with off-campus transportation information to be given out at basketball games and other campus events.
"On the back of [the cards] you'll see there's all the numbers for campus security, Town of Poughkeepsie Police, Poughkeepsie City Police, all the cab companies that Marist allows," Townsend said.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of being assaulted on campus is for students to take steps in order to stay safe.
"I want people to know that they can take preventive measures to reduce that risk," Zeyher said.
"I would definitely say travelling in groups is probably the biggest thing. To just really be aware of your surroundings," Zeyher said. "If it's 3:30 in the morning don't go walking alone across campus; you wouldn't be doing it in the City of Poughkeepsie, you really shouldn't be doing it anywhere."
Townsend and Zeyher were confident that SGA is doing their best to maintain a safe campus.
"In total this is our campus; we want to be safe on it," Zeyher said.
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