Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that SUNY will be implementing a new set of policies designed to combat sexual violence across state universities.
The policy calls for several new practices, including a uniform definition of consent before engaging in sexual acts, immunity for students who report sexual violence, new training programs for college authorities in addressing incidents, awareness campaigns and a Sexual Assault
Victims’ Bill of Rights, which emphasizes contacting State Police.
This is the first time a statewide policy against sexual violence has been implemented in state colleges, and Cuomo said he hopes to incorporate private colleges in the future as well.
“There has been an epidemic of sexual violence in this country that is truly disturbing, and it is plaguing our college campuses,” Cuomo said in a press release. “It is time for New York to take what is a difficult, uncomfortable topic and lead the way, and that is exactly what this resolution passed by the SUNY Board of Trustees today will do.”
Plattsburgh State Vice President of Student Affairs Bryan Hartman said the college is supportive of SUNY’s ongoing effort to increase sexual assault awareness.
“I would like to think that we (PSUC) have been leaders in this effort, especially in our Victims’ Services Receipt, which is similar to the Victims’ Bill of Rights,” Hartman said. “It will be a benchmark not only against ourselves, but other universities.”
While he noted that some SUNY schools may find the new policies more difficult to implement than others because of differing programs, Hartman said he believes it will prove invaluable for them to do so.
Cuomo also announced Thursday that the SUNY Board has appointed Linda Farstein to serve as a special adviser to the group as they prepare to implement the new series of policies.
Fairstein led the Sex Crimes Unit of the District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan for 25 years and is currently a Fellow at the American College of Trial Lawyers.