Backlash Over Ramapo College Sexual Assault Presentation

By Candace Kelley

A presentation about alcohol and the consequence of drinking has some students at Ramapo College outraged. That’s according to an article in the school’s paper — The Ramapo News.

According to the article, during a presentation called Haven — Understanding Sexual Assault. Women were guided to avoid unwanted attention by being mindful of their body language, dress, alcohol consumption and even their facial expressions. The presentation was given by the coordinator of the school’s Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention programs, Cory Rosenkranz.That’s blaming the victim, according to one student who attended the presentation.

“My thought the whole time was maybe women shouldn’t practice how long they’re blinking, men should just not rape people,” Brandon Molina told The Ramapo News.

The conversation quickly spread to social networking about the so-called “anti-rape face.”

“A way for people to not get raped by putting on a certain face which I personally think is ridiculous,” said freshman Paul Iannelli.

But the president of the University says what was said was a very specific response to a question about the influences someone may have after they have had too much to drink. He says what was shared were “harm reduction strategies” and the college does not condone victim blaming. While he didn’t condemn what was said, he did note that it was probably “unwise under circumstances” to have made those references without recognizing that they might be misinterpreted or interpreted differently.

In a statement to the college newspaper, Cory Rosenkranz says that she has always included what she calls “harm reduction strategies” in her presentation and that no one ever approached her after, saying that they were offended.

But Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle says no matter what the context, the message given in the presentation was wrong.

“Certainly it was from the dark ages and we need to empower the victims and never ever say that the victim is responsible,” she said.

She adds that on college campuses especially, students need guidance, clear information and education. She says the college’s president needs to step up and change the tide of the whole conversation.

“He can be a leader and in regards of this incident, we can take this negative into a positive and highlight the need that there needs to be awareness and a clear message to these victims,” Huttle said.

Meanwhile many of the students we spoke to say there is indeed a culture of victim blaming and the controversial presentation will help shed light on the subject.

“There’s a lot of ignorance to it and there’s a lot of misconceptions to it and I think it’s something that we should talk about,” said senior at Ramapo College Andras Castillo.

The president of the college says those who attended the presentation were contacted and reassured that the college’s position is that it is never appropriate ever to blame the victim.