SUNY Approves New Statewide Policy On Sexual Assault

The policy includes a victim's bill of rights and a uniform confidentiality and reporting protocol.
Published: October 6, 2014

The State University of New York’s board of trustees approved a resolution last week that established a statewide policy for addressing sexual assaults on SUNY college campuses. This is the state’s first uniform policy to assist victims and prevent sexual assault.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he is now working with the state’s private colleges to establish the same policies. In a prepared statement, Cuomo said “There has been an epidemic of sexual violence in this country that is truly disturbing and it is plaguing our college campuses. “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.”

The approved resolution includes a sexual assault victim’s bill of rights, which provides victims with information about their right to report sexual assaults to state, local or campus authorities. It also details on campus resources to assist victims of sexual assault.

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The most important part of the resolution is a uniform definition of affirmative consent. The goal is to provide students with a clear understanding of what that means and the knowledge that silence does not equal consent. The definition states:
“Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.”

“Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity. Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.”

The resolution also calls for a uniform confidentiality and reporting protocol for all SUNY campuses and immunity for drug and alcohol violations to encourage the report of sexual assaults.

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