In his latest effort to combat and prevent sexual assault on college campuses in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the new “Enough is Enough” campaign on Thursday, Feb. 25 “to push for the passage of the Governor’s legislation combating sexual assault on college campuses,” according to a press release.
“We must do more to address sexual assault and rape on college campuses, and this law will ensure that students at all colleges in the State are protected by the same uniform policies that SUNY adopted last year,” Cuomo said. “New York must take a stand to combat the culture of sexual violence in higher education. New York should be a leader in the fight against sexual violence on college campuses.”
According to the Governor’s office, the effort is aimed at bringing the state’s attention to the pending legislation, which would demand all public and private colleges and universities in New York to adopt an identical definition of consent; a policy to protect victims of a sexual abuse crime from being punished for a student code of conduct violation like underage alcohol consumption or drug use; and the Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, which would provide victims with his or her rights, a list of resources and steps for reporting the incident.
If a school does not comply with the policy after it is passed and codified in the state legislature, the school could risk losing the funding it receives from the state.
“Managing the work of 64 campuses to get this right and implement a consistent and uniform policy is really coming to fruition,” SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said at a cabinet meeting on Feb. 25 in Albany. “This will be an ongoing effort, lessons that must be enforced and most importantly requires a change in campus culture which is hard to measure but we know is absolutely necessary and of course we know that doesn’t happen overnight.”
“The ‘Enough is Enough’ slogan was generated because it seemed like an obvious tag to go with the campaign and would show that in New York, enough is enough when it comes to sexual assaults on our college campuses,” a spokeswoman from the Governor’s office said
in an email.
To further promote the new effort, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will visit colleges and universities around the state and meet with students, faculty, administration, service providers and advocates for survivors of rape and sexual assault, according to a press release.
In conjunction with the “Enough is Enough” campaign, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico also announced a new hotline specifically dedicated to reporting sexual assault cases on college and university campuses.
“The hotline is run directly by the State Police, which will have dedicated members on-call 24/7 to answer and respond to calls,” the Governor’s spokeswoman said. “If a sex assault incident is reported to the State Police, state troopers will be responsible for handling and investigating it.”
Stony Brook University Chief of Police and Assistant Vice President for Campus Safety Robert J. Lenahan said that although University Police has not received any “additional guidance” from SUNY in regards to the “Enough is Enough” campaign, he said New York State Police is still working on developing the protocols and training courses mentioned.
“I would say that as a general rule, additional methods for individuals to report they were a victim of sexual violence would be beneficial,” Lenahan said.
The new campaign comes out as Stony Brook University faces a lawsuit filed by an alumna on Jan. 23, 2015 for “deliberate indifference,” in reference to the manner in which the university allegedly handled her sexual assault case.
On July 23, 2014, the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights opened an investigation into Stony Brook to look into possible violations of Title IX, a federal clause prohibiting discrimination based on sex at any federally-funded educational institution. The department ended its investigation of Binghamton University after announcing the investigation in May.
On Friday, Feb. 26, 2015 Vice President of Student Affairs Peter Baigent wrote an op-ed in The Journal News titled “In reply: Stony Brook respects Title IX,” in which he described the hearing procedures in sexual assault cases. Baigent also said the university is unable to comment on the ongoing lawsuit as it would violate federal privacy laws that prohibit disclosure of student information.
“In accordance with federal policy related to Title IX cases, Stony Brook’s process enables complainants to determine the level to which they participate in the hearing,” Baigent said. “They may choose to confront their alleged assailant (although neither party may directly question the other) or have a university representative present the case on their behalf. It is the complainants’ choice to participate as much in the proceeding as they feel comfortable. Regardless of their initial choice they can change their mind at any time.”
According to the Judicial Process Flow Chart on the University Office of Community Standards website, “The respondent(s), then the presiding University Official or hearing board members, may question the complainant regarding the opening statement and evidence.” It also says “The complainant(s) then the presiding University Official or hearing board members may question the opening statement.”
When asked for clarification on the matter, Director of Title IX and Risk Management Marjolie Leonard and Director of Office of University Community Standards Matty Orlich were not available for comment.
The Governor’s office said that at this time, there are no plans to revise campus judiciary proceedings and protocols.