Siena College works hard to ensure students are safe and aware of others. In April, this especially is true when on the topic of sexual assault. When speaking of this issue, it is important to remain compassionate and create understanding. To provide a healthy atmosphere, Siena offers many resources available to students. I spoke with Siena’s Title IX Coordinator, Lois Goland, to get a better idea of what exactly our school offers. Goland emphasized the importance of being aware of the sexual misconduct handbook. In this influential document, it informs students and faculty of Siena’s responsibility when an event like this occurs. As well, it helps with preventative measures. Goland also mentioned that her office is working on an “It’s On Us” campaign. This project promotes sexual assault awareness and asks students and employees to take the pledge to eliminate assaults at Siena. The Title IX Office also asked students to submit either essays or videos on what a healthy relationship means to them. Goland added, “We have received several wonderful essays and will be selecting our winners at the conclusion of the month.”
Goland also mentioned an event that Siena hosted on April 23 in the Norm. The Title IX Office and St. Peter’s Hospital partnered to provide hand-packaged bags for survivors of sexual and physical assault. The bags contained toiletries, a teddy bear, and a personal note. Amazingly, the students who participated in the event packaged the 100 care bags within 10 minutes. The nurses and faculty were astonished at the speed and efficiency of the Saints. After the event, I had the opportunity to speak with a St. Peter’s forensic nurse, Tina Bates, who opened up about the importance of sexual assault awareness month. She informed me that these bags greatly impact survivors lives. It gives them the tools to clean themselves up when leaving the hospital. Bates noted that survivors must leave their clothes for DNA testing which is why clothing drives are often held. The clothing must be new for hygiene purposes, but it gives them something other than scrubs to go home in.
The testing provided by St. Peter’s is free of cost for anyone who needs the care. This testing is crucial to the incident because it can give survivors answers and evidence. As well, it could help survivors move on from the assault. St. Peter’s also provides free STD screens during the exam to ensure that the survivor gets the proper treatment if needed.
Bates informed me that anyone over 18 can become an active support system for survivors by volunteering at St. Peter’s Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program. Advocates must undergo 40-50 hours of training in order to work with survivors. The advocates are trained to help facilitate free services such as therapy and any reimbursement that the survivor might need. Bates acknowledged how impactful advocates are to her since it is difficult to help with physical and emotional needs as a nurse. Although nurses help greatly with emotional support, advocates’ sole focus are the survivors’ emotions. Bates also emphasized how crucial it is to believe one another when it comes to this topic. If someone comes to you looking for support, listen with compassion and urge them to seek medical assistance.
If you or someone you know would like to pursue support, there are a vast array of options. If you are at Siena, you could confidentially disclose a crime/assault to the Counseling Center located in Foy Hall. Some other resources include the Health Center and the Office of the College Chaplain and Siena College Friars. There is also the option to anonymously report if you choose to. You or anyone you know can put in a tip at www.siena.edu/anonymous. Siena will then have the responsibility to investigate the information. Also, St. Peter’s has a 24-hour hotline, 518-271-3257, for anyone who needs it. If you or anyone you know need support or an examination, you could go to the St. Peter’s Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program office located at 2200 Burdett Ave., Suite 109 in Troy.