Governor Announces Agreement on College Sexual Assault Legislation

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WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Office. June 16, 2015:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie today announced that a three-way agreement has been reached on the “Enough is Enough” legislation to combat sexual assault on college campuses in New York State.

This on-campus sexual assault prevention and response legislation was first proposed by Governor Cuomo in January. The package includes:

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

· A statewide 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; 

· A new unit within the State Police called the “sexual assault victims unit” specialized in 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.

“Today is a victory for students across New York State,” Governor Cuomo said. “As the Governor, and as a father, I am proud that with this legislation New York will become a national leader in the fight against sexual assault on college campuses.

This action is a major step forward to protect students from an issue that has been plaguing schools nationwide for far too long. Once again, New York is setting the standard for other states to follow, and I look forward to signing this legislation into law as soon as possible.”

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said, “I am pleased and proud that working together we have reached a consensus on a bill to combat and root out sexual assault so our college campuses are safe learning environments for all students. I thank Senator Ken LaValle for his hard work on this issue, as well as Governor Cuomo and Speaker Heastie, and I commend my colleagues and the advocates for helping us achieve a positive result on this extraordinarily important piece of legislation.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “Every student deserves the opportunity to obtain a higher education in a safe and supportive environment. Campus sexual assault disrupts victims’ lives and shifts their focus away from their studies. This plan encourages victims to speak up and provides a uniform policy for handling accusations throughout all New York State colleges, as well as bolsters support services for victims of this heinous act. New York must continue to lead the way in the fight against campus sexual assault.”
Supporters for this legislation include:
· Lady Gaga, who also co-authored an op-ed with the Governor;
· 17 of 18 county executives statewide;
· Whoopi Goldberg, who also filmed a video for the campaign;
· More than 40 city mayors from across the state;
· More than 100 elected officials from across the state;
· Nearly 20 members of New York’s Congressional Delegation;
· More than 50 statewide and local organizations, in addition to 30 advocacy groups, community organizations and unions and 14 labor groups;
· 28 public safety officials from across the state;
· Student advocates from Barnard College and Syracuse, Columbia, Fordham and New York Universities; and
· House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

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