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Hobart and William Smith welcomes students

Geneva, N.Y. – New students were welcomed at Hobart and William Smith Colleges Friday.

“This is coming home, so you move into your home for the next 4 years here,” said Paul Ciaccia, a senior at Hobart and a Freshmen Orientation Coordinator. “One of our main focuses is just allowing them to feel comfortable.”

The New York Times put the colleges in the spotlight this summer after they released a report about the school’s handling of a sexual assault case.

A student named “Anna” gave her account of sexual assaults on and off campus as a freshman, and then criticized the way her school handled her investigation.

“There was a lot in that article and it was really hard just as a person to read,” said Dana Williams, a junior at William Smith and Freshmen Orientation Coordinator. “What is comforting about it is that I know this is a place where change can happen and I'm really confident this year there will be a lot of progress.”

The Colleges’ Vice President of Student Affairs, Robb Flowers, said there is an increased focus on sexual misconduct training.

“When parents leave their students with us they entrust their most important possession to us,” said Flowers.

Faculty members were recently trained on sexual misconduct intervention, knowledge they will pass onto students.

The Colleges now also have two full-time psychologists on campus.

Transfer student Emily Spraggs said the article did not change her decision about attending William Smith.

“I think it really happens everywhere, which is really unfortunate, but it’s not something specific Hobart and William Smith is doing differently,” said Spraggs.

Her parents also supported her decision.

“We talked about it,” said Spraggs’ father Jeremy of the article. “Emily, Beth and I talked about it and everyone is responsible for themselves and it’s tough sometimes.”

Spraggs’ mother said, “It feels homey for us and we feel very safe and confident sending her here.”

The Colleges told 13WHAM students are working on a 24 hour hotline that other students can call.

Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes, Inc. also offers a 24 hour hotline for anyone who has experienced sexual assault, abuse and interpersonal violence. The number is (800) 247–7273.

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Washington Times