The State University of New York system released a sexual assault policy that will apply to all 64 of the SUNY campuses on Tuesday Dec. 2. The majority of the policy is effective immediately, but all campuses have until March 31 to issue an official plan regarding their compliance with the new regulations.
The policy contains a “Bill of Rights” for victims of sexual assault, laying out the rules for dealing with victims who report their sexual assault to the school.
According to USA Today, this includes “allowing [the victim] to decide whether to go to police without ‘outside pressures from college officials.’ It also requires schools to make victims repeat their stories to ‘as few individuals as practicable’ to avoid having them ‘unnecessarily repeat a description of the incident.’”
In addition, there is an to an 11-sentence definition of “affirmation consent, which requires clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed and voluntary agreement among participants in sexual activity.”
According to WGRZ.com, “The 14-page policy was adopted by SUNY after its Board of Trustees—flanked by [New York] Gov. Andrew Cuomo—passed a resolution in October calling for a uniform policy.”
Another component of this policy deals with providing amnesty to victims under the influence of drugs or alcohol during sexual-violence incidents.
“The policy deals exclusively with amnesty in the case of sexual assault. The Responsible Community Action Policy, [Student Associaton’s] current “good Samaritan” policy, already provides blanket amnesty in the case of alcohol or drug use by minors if there’s sexual assault, violence, etc. that occurs as a result of that,” Student Association vice president junior Paul Michael said. “It doesn’t change anything at Geneseo except for the new uniform definition of consent.”
Due to the minimal change this policy provides in the way of medical amnesty, Michael said SA will continue to pursue a policy that has “concrete promises for students.”
Although this hasn’t eliminated SA’s need to work towards passing RCAP, Michael noted the benefits of having this type of policy, citing the importance of “people recognizing that having barriers to students seeking proper medical attention––whether it be sexual assault, violence, or a medical emergency––only creates hesitation.”
Many SUNY schools have already voiced their agreement with the new policy, although Geneseo has yet to do so. This hasn’t stopped Michael from showing his support.
“I’m glad the state’s moving in the right direction on sexual assault, and I hope our administration extends that to move in the right direction regarding medical emergencies,” he said.