Thursday, September 23, 2021

Help provided for PSUC

Planned Parenthood Sexual Assault Services Legal Advocate Autumn Bennett has been appointed as Plattsburgh State’s Sexual Assault Advocate, beginning in October.

Bennett’s role on campus is to be a confidential resource for both students and staff if they are victims of rape or sexual assault. Bennett, if needed, can attend court cases, escort a victim to the hospital, be there to simply listen and give advice if wanted and can follow the victim from beginning to end of the case, if one is motioned.

Bennett is here through the Sexual Assault Services program of Planned Parenthood. Bennett has been employed there since May. Bennett’s position at Planned Parenthood is also new to their program.

Bennett got this position through volunteering and having the experience and skills for the job. Bennett is an alumna of PSUC and interned with Title IX Coordinator Butterfly Blaise

“Autumn is well qualified for this, she worked with me as an intern here on campus and I believe her being here will help many students,” Blaise said.

Blaise also said having Bennett here will benefit the victims. While Bennett can follow the victim around if needed in any situation, Butterfly must remain a neutral party, and is limited to where she can help a victim.

Macomb Hall Resident Assistant Azure Arnot said RAs cannot be confidential sources for victims, and having Bennett on campus might make student more willing to open up if they are victims.

Bennett said she doesn’t believe PSUC as a whole has a sexual assault problem on its campus, but campuses all around the United States have a problem with the issue. She said with her presence on campus, she hopes more students feel comfortable speaking with her, and with her being a confidential source.

“The only time I would report something to the campus or the police is if multiple victims come forward with the same place of which these assaults are happening” Bennett said.

Arnot was unaware of this new program on campus and said she did not know Bennett was here. She said she is glad she is here and if students come to her she can help send them over to Bennett in hopes of making the students feel more comfortable.

Bennett also sits in on campus resource panels. There are four resource meetings per semester. PSUC community members can receive information for advocates from multiple sexual assault advocates and law enforcement agencies, as well as the ways they provide for victims.

Bennett can be reached in her office at Redcay 223 Mondays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. or at her office at Planned Parenthood at 66 Brinkerhoff Street.

“It’s important to have many resources when going through a traumatic experience like sexual assault,” said Bennett.

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