Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a comprehensive legislation to put all put private schools under the same set of regulations for dealing with campus sexual assault as state universities. To push the bill, he even launched the Enough Is Enough campaign to address the worsening epidemic of sexual violence on American college campuses.
To promote his campaign and subsequently urge lawmakers to pass the significant bill, Cuomo teamed with Lady Gaga, who has herself been a victim of sexual assault and understands the severity of the situation. The award winning pop star and the New York governor recently co-wrote a powerful op-ed the issue. They essay was published by Billboard.
“Today, too many college students experience sexual assault, too few of the assailants are prosecuted, and too often the survivors lack the resources they need to recover,” the duo wrote. “In New York, fewer than 5 percent of rapes that occur on college campuses are reported to law enforcement and just 16 percent of survivors receive support from a victim services agency.”
Cuomo and Gaga pressed on the fact that sexual assault is not just a campus violation, it’s a crime and should be treated as such.
“A 2010 investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that just a quarter of the individuals responsible for sexual assault were permanently removed from campus – and in some cases, that figure was as low as 10 percent,” the op-ed continued. “As a result, these victims are not only deprived justice, they are denied the opportunity to tell their stories publicly. Being able to speak about such difficult experiences openly is fundamental to easing a survivor’s recovery and to removing the shame that still shrouds sexual assault.”
Cuomo wants all the universities and colleges in the state to adopt the policy so that campuses can once again become safe for thousands of students who “head off to colleges across the country, dreaming of bright futures and the experience of a lifetime.”
“This situation is unacceptable. The likelihood that college students are not getting the assistance and support they deserve is heartbreaking, and the knowledge that sexual predators are left free to attack again is criminal. This bill will tackle this crisis head-on, because the status quo needs to change,” read the joint editorial.
The SUNY policy that deals with the campus sexual assault was adopted at all New York public campuses last year. Under this law, “affirmative consent” is defined as "clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed and voluntary agreement between all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive.” Anything else will be considered rape and dealt with as such.
Furthermore, under this policy, silence is not considered consent.