HWS students offer their takes on case

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 10:19 am | Updated: 3:07 pm, Mon Jul 21, 2014.

By DAVID L. SHAW dshaw@fltimes.com

GENEVA - Only a handful of students remain on the Hobart and William Smith Colleges campus each summer.

The Colleges don’t offer a summer session, so those who are in Geneva usually have on-campus jobs, are doing research or might be helping with camps.

Three students on campus Monday were willing to talk to the Finger Lakes Times about the New York Times article about a September 2013 sexual assault incident involving a William Smith student. The student, just two weeks into her freshman year, said she was assaulted by three Hobart football players.

Jessica Vasquez of New York City, a sophomore at William Smith, said the first year is especially difficult because it’s “easy to get involved in parties where you feel weird things going on.”

“You shouldn’t leave your friends alone because these things can happen,” she said. “I’m disappointed to see the school didn’t handle the case the way it should have. There were rumors at the beginning of last school year going around, but no one talked about it and ignored it, so the rumors died out. It’s just now coming to light, and it’s wrong to come out over the summer. The football season is over. It’s suspicious.

“There was evidence for the police. And the fact of the way the committee questioned her. It was not handled the way it should have been handled. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure what they did isn’t right.”

Macy Howarth, a William Smith junior from New Hampshire, agreed the Colleges didn’t handle the matter correctly.

“But many schools and colleges are currently being looked at for this problem,” Howarth said. “The bottom line is the school is not equipped to handle these kind of serious cases.”

She believes the matter should have been handled entirely by police, not the school. Howarth said HWS has a good support system of counseling, a health center and a security department, but they are not trained for a criminal investigation or to deal with evidence that could be used at trial.

“There’s a lot of horrible Facebook posts about the Colleges, but I believe it’s an amazing place to learn, and I’ve never felt unsafe,” Howarth said. “I’m sorry Anna went through this, and I’m proud of her for coming back.”

Howarth concluded by saying the Colleges, the football program and other institutions don’t deserve to be diminished in this way.

Rob Sollenne, a Hobart senior from Geneva, called the incident a terrible tragedy, adding, “If you look at it, it happens on many other campuses.”

Sollenne noted that the publicity has people talking about the problem and solutions.

“It’s bad it took such a tragedy, but the communication going on is really good, and we need to keep the conversation going,” Sollenne said. “It should be looked into further. The way it was taken care of was not working. That’s why the narrative may change the way such situations are dealt with.”

About a half-dozen other HWS students contacted Monday declined to comment on the record.


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