Governor signs legislation combating sexual assault on college campuses

Posted 7 July 2015 at 12:00 am

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed his “Enough is Enough” legislation to combat sexual assault on college and university campuses statewide.

The new law requires all colleges to adopt a set of comprehensive procedures and guidelines, including a uniform definition of affirmative consent, a statewide amnesty policy, and expanded access to law enforcement to ensure the safety of all students attending colleges in New York State.

“I am proud to sign into law the most aggressive policy in the nation to fight against sexual assault on college campuses,” Cuomo said. “Today, New York is making a clear and bold statement: sexual violence is a crime, and from now on in this state it will be investigated and prosecuted like one. With this law, we will better protect every student that attends college within our borders, and I am proud New York is leading the way once again.”

This legislation was first proposed by Cuomo in January and will extend the preventive policy and protections adopted by SUNY campuses to all university campuses statewide.

Specifically, the new law requires private colleges in New York State to adopt or implement:

A uniform definition of affirmative consent, defining consent as a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity;

An amnesty policy, to ensure that students reporting incidents of sexual assault or other sexual violence are granted immunity for certain campus policy violations, such as drug and alcohol use;

A Students’ Bill of Rights, which campuses will be required to distribute to all students in order to specifically inform sexual violence victims of their legal rights and how they may access appropriate resources. The Bill of Rights clearly states that students are given the right to know they can report sexual assaults to outside law enforcement, including the State Police;

Comprehensive training requirements for administrators, staff, and students, including at new student orientations.;

Reporting requirements for campuses to annually submit aggregate data on reported incidents of sexual violence and their adjudication and handling to the State Education Department;

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Cuomo at the bill signing today at New York University School of Law.

“Campus sexual assault is an all-hands-on-deck epidemic in America,” Pelosi said. “Today is a tipping point day, and I was proud to stand with the Governor Cuomo as he signed into law a strong tool for all the educators, administrators and women fighting to end campus sexual assault once and for all. We must confront this issue everywhere, from campus to Congress – and New York is leading the way forward for our nation.”

Additionally, the new law includes:

The creation of a new unit within the State Police called the “sexual assault victims unit,” with a focus on advanced training in responding to sexual assaults and related crimes that shall also provide assistance to campus police or local law enforcement, as well as training to college campus communities;

A commitment of $10 million to help combat campus sexual assault through various partners, split in the following manner: $4.5 million to rape crisis centers to provide services and resources to students, $4.5 million to the State Police to create sexual assault victims unit, and $1 million to colleges and universities; and

A requirement for first responders to notify survivors of their right to contact outside law enforcement.

“As state leaders and educators, our first and foremost responsibility is to ensure that our college and university campuses provide a safe haven for students as they complete their higher education and work toward a degree,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said. “The ‘Enough is Enough’ legislation signed today is a promise of safe and secure learning environments for students attending college anywhere in New York State, and SUNY has been proud to serve as the policy model for these comprehensive reforms. With this historic bill, Governor Cuomo and the legislature have further positioned SUNY and New York to lead the nation in combating sexual assault and violence on college campuses.”