Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention

College Policies and Regulations on Sex Offenses

Sexual Assault is prohibited.  Sexual assault is defined as forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual acts, which include but are not limited to, unwanted touching of an intimate part of another person such as a sexual organ, buttocks, or breast; sodomy; oral copulation; and rape by a foreign object. Violations may lead to college disciplinary action and/or arrest.
Rape is prohibited. Rape is defined as sexual intercourse by a friend, acquaintance or stranger:

  • which is forced, manipulated, or coerced through the use of verbal coercion, intimidation (emotional and/or physical), threats, physical restraint, and/or physical violence; and/or
  • where no consent was given due to the victim being unconscious or asleep, being unable to communicate, or the victim saying nothing; and/or
  • where the victim is temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his or her conduct owing to the influence of alcohol; or other drugs consumed without his or her consent or to any other act committed upon him or her without his or her consent.

Sexual Harassment is prohibited. Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:

  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education;
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment or education decisions affecting such individual; or
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Code of Student Conduct, Rights and Responsibilities: Prohibited Conduct

Sexual Assault is defined as any touching of a sexual nature that is without the consent of the person touched. Sexual assault may include, but is not limited to, rape, sexual abuse, sodomy (non-consensual) and sexual misconduct as defined by New York State Penal Law. Sexual assault is prohibited.

Sexual Harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and/or other unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature which interferes with a student's performance or creates an intimidating hostile or offensive environment. Sexual harassment is prohibited.

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention

SUNY Potsdam has a responsibility to inform you of the potential risks of sexual assault.  The college believes that you also have a responsibility to learn about sexual assault in an effort to prevent its occurrence and protect yourself.

What is the College’s Position on Sexual Assault?

The college believes that the best approach to sexual assault is prevention.  To enhance this concept, the college has put forth considerable resources in the areas of sexual assault education, support services, crime prevention and campus law enforcement.  Furthermore, the college believes that all sexual assault incidents are very serious and must be dealt with in a highly sensitive, confidential and professional manner.  The college will make every effort to identify persons responsible for sexual assault offenses and will pursue arrest charges as well as campus disciplinary action.

When disciplinary action is taken, both the accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during a disciplinary proceeding, and both the accuser and the accused shall be informed of the outcome of any institutional disciplinary proceeding brought alleging a sex offense.

Recommended Sexual Assault Preventative Measures

What can you do to avoid sexual assault?

  • Avoid alcohol/drugs; be aware of the effects that alcohol/ drugs have on your behavior and the behavior of others.
  • Be assertive; know your limits, make decisions.
  • Watch nonverbal cues (from yourself) - dressing sexy, touching.
  • Trust intuitions; feeling creepy/uncomfortable - get out of the situation.
  • Previous consent does not imply current consent; NO MEANS NO.
  • Be alert.
  • Lock doors - car doors; also carry keys in your hand.
  • Avoid dark, desolate areas.
  • Ask for an ID when repair person or service person comes to your door (before entering).
  • Learn self defense.
  • Never walk alone.  Call University Police for an escort if you feel you need one.
  • Always walk with assurance and confidence.
  • Plan your evenings, your dates; go to public areas; don’T put yourself in danger.
Residence Hall Safety Precautions:

  • Do not let strangers in through locked outside doors.
  • Sign in guests and register all overnight visitors with your Hall Director.
  • Lock your room door at all times when you are napping, visiting friends on the floor or in the building, or using the bathroom.
  • Report lost keys and ID cards immediately to your Hall Director and to University Police.
  • Use your peephole.  Do not open the door if you do not know the person.
  • Report any suspicious persons or activities to the RA, Hall Director, or University Police immediately.
  • Do not prop outside doors.
  • Hang up on “prank” or obscene phone callers.
  • Should the problem persist, report it to University Police.

Avoiding Sexual Assault

To avoid sexual assault, you need to understand the nature of the crime.  Sexual Assault is an all-encompassing term that includes rape and any unwanted sexual activity that involves touching.

The most common assumption regarding rape or sexual assault is that it is perpetrated by the monster who stalks his victim and strikes unexpectedly.  This type of rape can and does occur on college campuses, including SUNY Potsdam.  It should be noted, however, that the nature of this type of crime has been rare on this campus.

Time and statistics have proven that the common instances of sexual assault on this campus fall into the following categories - Acquaintance Rape and Date Rape.

Acquaintance Rape: a type of sexual assault in which the victim and attacker know one another.  Quite often they are only casual acquaintances.

Date Rape: a type of Acquaintance Rape that occurs while the victim and her attacker are on a date.  (Experts in the field of sexual assault report that this type of rape is widespread on college campuses and often goes unreported.)

Students are most likely to become victims of sexual assault during their first few weeks at college when they make the transition from the security of their parents’ home to the less-restricted lifestyle of a residence hall.  Another time of increased vulnerability is during the first few weeks when many make the transition from residence halls to off-campus apartments, sororities and fraternities.

Other factors which have been found to play a major role where sexual assaults have occurred include:

  •  Alcohol use/abuse
  •  Drug use/abuse
  •  Inviting your date or acquaintance to your room
  •  Mixed messages regarding sexual intent
  •  Walking unescorted on and off campus after dark

Knowledge and awareness of the nature and common instances of sexual assaults may assist you in making sound decisions regarding your personal safety. 

Victim Assistance

What if I become a victim of sexual assault?

SUNY Potsdam has enjoyed a relatively low incidence of sexual assaults.  This does not mean we can develop a false sense of security.  It is imperative that the campus community work together to provide a safe environment for all.  If you are a victim of any sexual assault, the following recommendations are presented for your consideration.

  • As a victim of a sexual assault, you have the right to report the incident or not to report the incident.  Only you can make that decision!  We strongly suggest that you report the incident.  The reason for this is to insure that you receive the necessary support to deal with this crisis and that we can address this situation in hopes of eliminating further occurrences.

  • As a victim of a sexual assault, the institution will change your academic and living situation after an alleged sex offense and inform you of the options for those changes.  The changes must be requested by you and reasonably available.

  • Who can I talk to and where should I report the incident?  Once again, you must make the decision who you are most comfortable talking to.  Here are some suggestions:
  • Talk to a friend or roommate.
  • Talk to your Resident Assistant or Resident Director.
  • Talk with a college counselor.
  • Talk with a clergy member.
  • Talk with your parents or other family members.
  • Talk with a campus law enforcement official.
  • Talk with the a member of Renewal House.  315-379-9845

As mentioned earlier, it is important that all sexual assaults are reported.  There are options available for reporting.  They include:

  • Report the incident to a counselor (ask that the college administration be notified).
  • Report the incident to any college official.
  • Report the incident to the University Police Department.

It is not uncommon for some women to be afraid of reporting a sexual assault.  They anticipate embarrassment and shame.  A rape victim is treated as a victim of a violent crime with special psychological and emotional needs.  The only shame would be if the rapist goes free.

What should I do if I want to press charges?

In order to build a strong case against the perpetrator of a sexual assault, it is important that you take the following steps:

  • Report the sexual assault immediately to University Police.
  • Do not change clothes, shower or clean up.
  • Do not throw anything away.
  • Do not use any medication.

 In addition to the above, the following information can greatly assist University Police:

  •  Vehicle license number, make and color (if the assailant used a vehicle).
  •  Race of assailant.
  •  Approximate age, weight and height.
  •  Color and length of hair.
  •  Color of eyes.
  •  Type of clothing.
  •  Any unusual marks, scars, tattoos, etc.
  •  Any belongings the assailant may have left at the scene.

Keep in mind that the college is concerned with your well-being.  If you become a victim of a sexual assault, get help immediately from a counselor.  If the reporting aspect seems complicated and scary to you, let someone (preferably a counselor or university police officer) assist you in this area by explaining all of your options.


Counselors are special people with enduring sensitivity, trained to respond to crisis situations.  Much of that training comes from working with other victims.  They can understand, support, advocate, listen and clarify.

You do not bring your best skills to a crisis, but a counselor can bring his/hers.

A counselor will help you sort through all the important issues one step at a time, at a manageable pace with you leading the way.  What are the issues anyway?

  • Getting immediate care for physical trauma.
  • Gathering medical/legal evidence using a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE)
  • Prevention/treatment of STD/HIV.
  • Prevention/treatment of pregnancy.
  • Linking with your personal support system of family and friends.
  • Legal assistance/reporting and prosecuting a rapist.
  • Help dealing with any long term effects of assault, including anxiety, depression and fears.

Student Health Services

It is crucial for victims of sexual assault to obtain immediate medical care, not only for their physical well-being but also to collect necessary legal evidence to prosecute the perpetrator.  Student Health Services is open to students during regularly scheduled hours.  Immediate emergency care is provided directly by a well-trained staff to victims of sexual assault/rape. 

However, due to the specific nature of obtaining evidence for use in criminal prosecution, victims of sexual assault/rape are referred to the local hospital emergency departments.  There, a thorough physical exam, lab work and photos are obtained by a certified sexual assault nurse and necessary precautions can be taken to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

Student Health Services may assist by:

  • making sure that physical evidence is not altered or destroyed.  Remember, do not shower, wash, change clothes, comb hair, drink or eat or do anything to alter physical appearance until after a physical exam has been completed at a hospital.
  • providing information to the victim on college policies and notifying University Police, Dean of Students and parents.  (All information is kept strictly confidential.)
  • discussing what to expect in the hospital emergency department and what precautions will need to be followed to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • providing follow-up post traumatic medical care.

SUNY Potsdam wants to advise you that there are a number of other support services available to victims of sexual assault.  They include:

University Police
Van Housen Extension

Counseling Center
Van Housen Extension

Student Health Services
Van Housen Extension

Canton-Potsdam Hospital

Potsdam, NY

Reachout (24 hour crisis hotline)
Potsdam, NY

Potsdam Rescue Squad

29 Elm St, Potsdam, NY

Planned Parenthood of NNY
Canton, NY

Renewal House (
Canton, NY

Campus Life
Draime Extension

Student Conduct & Community Standards
208 Barrington Student Union

Potsdam Police Department
38 Main St., Potsdam, NY