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May 1, 2013

PSU students protest harassment

PLATTSBURGH — As Bobby Sheehan moved with the crowd of Take Back the Night marchers past the AXP fraternity house, he was disgusted when someone there shouted some hateful comments.

“I heard ‘sluts’ and ‘Shut up, sluts,’” he said. “There’s dozens of (sexual-abuse) survivors and their allies marching that heard the derogatory comments.”

Take Back the Night is an international effort to spread awareness of sexual assault, rape and domestic and dating violence. The SUNY Plattsburgh march took place Saturday night.

‘NOT ACCEPTABLE’

Tuesday afternoon, about 50 students and others stood outside Redcay Hall, facing the AXP house, to protest the incident that had happened there, at the corner of Beekman and Brinkerhoff streets.

Many held signs with slogans including: “We demand accountability” and “End the Silence.”

College administrators also were in attendance.

“Unfortunately, it left me really pessimistic about our culture on this campus,” said Sheehan, who holds a double major in gender and women’s studies and political science.

“However, now I feel optimistic because there’s this response, this community response, that this is not acceptable and we’re not going to allow this to continue.”

UNDER INVESTIGATION

Bryan Hartman, vice president for student affairs, said credible evidence has confirmed the incident, which had occurred at about 10 p.m.; Tuesday, it was not known who had perpetrated the harassment.

“The college is looking to see if judicial charges apply,” said SUNY Plattsburgh Director of Public Relations and Publications Michelle Ouellette.

The fraternity as a whole would be held responsible should that be the case, she said.

“The investigation is still ongoing. We’re collecting information,” Hartman said.

College officials should know by the end of the week how they will proceed, he said.

“Even hateful words are protected words under the (U.S.) Constitution,” he said but noted that he and the college do not support hateful language.

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