Schenectady County Community College is developing an anti-stalking policy that will be implemented this fall, the school said this week.
The move comes at a time when SCCC is starting to resemble a more traditional college campus, with a new dormitory that opened in 2012.
“The reality is, we’ve got 265 beds that we’re responsible for,” said Denise Murphy McGraw, chairwoman of the SCCC Board of Trustees. “We’re not a sleepy little campus anymore.”
McGraw said that SCCC will develop its anti-stalking policy in consultation with the State University of New York and the school’s Campus Safety Council.
The push to create a stalking policy wasn’t triggered by any particular incident, she said. Rather, it was spurred by changes on campus.
“We’re a college that’s changing, that’s growing,” McGraw said. “During the past five years, we’ve changed a lot. We have campus housing now. Our enrollment is on the upswing.”
SCCC’s dormitory on Washington Avenue is the first residence hall in the school’s history.
Under the new anti-stalking policy, stalking will be defined as “engaging in any behaviors or activities composed of more than one act over a period of time directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.”
This fall, SCCC will also become a smoke-free campus.
McGraw said that both the anti-stalking and smoking measures are aimed at ensuring student health and safety.
SCCC has never had an anti-stalking policy.
The number of students at SCCC has steadily increased, McGraw said, growing between 1 percent and 2 percent over the past several years. The school now has between 8,500 and 9,000 students on campus.
This growth has been accompanied by a shift in the type of students who enroll at SCCC, McGraw said.
Previously, the school had more of a “second-chance community college” reputation, she said. Now “there are a lot of people who come here and want to be here,” drawn by the school’s programs in aviation and nanoscale materials policy.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, college women appear to experience “partner stalking” at high rates, with approximately 5.3 percent of female college students in one study reporting being stalked by an intimate partner in a seven-month period. Another study of college women found that 6.9 percent of participants had been stalked by a current or former partner.
“While we have not seen [stalking] directly at SCCC, stalking incidents are occurring at an alarming rate on the nation’s college campuses,” said Quintin Bullock, president of Schenectady County Community College, in a news release. “SCCC does not tolerate stalking and will pursue any perpetrators of such acts to the fullest extent possible.”