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Plattsburgh State Approves Stalking, Dating Violence Policy

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ Although official reports of domestic violence and stalking at Plattsburgh State University of New York are small in comparison to numbers at other colleges and universities nationwide, Plattsburgh State has established a new Domestic Violence and Stalking Policy for responding to incidents involving students, staff and faculty.

Jean Cass, coordinator of the Office for Violence Prevention at Plattsburgh State, said, "Domestic, or dating violence and stalking are under-reported crimes on college campuses (81% of on-campus assaults are NOT reported to police). It is very well known that people don't want to talk about these crimes - they are personal and intimate - neither men nor women will report them. So the emphasis of this policy is reporting the event so we can respond effectively, ensure resources and services are available to victims and victim safety and offender accountability are priorities."

Plattsburgh State received an initial two-year Federal grant in 2002 to establish the Office for Violence Prevention. The effort to develop the new policy began shortly after her appointment in January 2003 when officials from the University of Alabama were invited to come to Plattsburgh to consult with the Office for Violence Prevention and the Office of the Dean of Students about the existing policies, the judicial process and a peer education program. The University of Alabama was one of the first colleges to receive a grant to establish a similar violence prevention policy, which has been used as the basis for policies at other campuses nationwide.

Cass said reports of domestic violence are made to University Police, but police have not been required to publish these numbers. Cass also said that it is now apparent that the number of domestic or dating violence incidents are going under-reported.

"In fact, there were 19 reports of dating violence in a six month period (July-December 2003) to University Police, and we are receiving anonymous reports from Stop Domestic Violence, Behavioral Health Services North that are not included in their numbers," said Cass. "I think anything more than one is problematic."
Most of the on-campus reports to University Police are made by a second or third person, such as a resident assistant.

To introduce the new policy to students, staff and faculty and to stem stalking and dating violence at Plattsburgh State, prevention and educational workshops are being offered on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 26 and 27.  Matthew Markon, a program attorney for the Stalking Resource Center of the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, D.C. will be the presenter.

Prior to joining the National Center, he was an attorney in private practice representing crime victims, served as a Montgomery County, Md. police officer specializing in the investigation of stalking and domestic violence and was also a member of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). He is a former U.S. Marine, a certified critical incident stress debriefer and co-facilitator for the Abuser's Counseling and Treatment Program (ACT).

He will hold two public training workshops on Thursday 5:15 - 7 p.m. and Friday, 10 a.m. -12 p.m. in the Plattsburgh Room, Angell College Center on what stalking and dating violence are and how to respond effectively to victims and survivors of these crimes.  The workshops are open to the campus and Plattsburgh community.

Cass has also scheduled training workshops for introducing the new policy for responding to stalking and domestic violence incidents for Wednesday and Thursday, March 24 and 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Cardinal Lounge, Angell College Center.

Cass said the college is concerned about domestic violence off-campus as well since employees and their families are not immune to it.

"People who work here aren't less likely to be victims themselves," said Cass. "Having films, forums and discussions raises awareness of these issues. We cannot possibly train every person on this campus to know how to work with someone who is a victim of domestic violence. What we can do though is train every single person at Plattsburgh State about who to call to get that information."

Individuals looking for more information about violence prevention at Plattsburgh State, can contact Cass at 564-4028 or by email: [email protected]

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