On of the first lessons for new or returning college students from across the state is likely getting them acquainted with new laws aimed to combat sexual violence on campuses. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” campaign sends a clear message as to what affirmative consent means. The state defines affirmative consent as a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.
LeMoyne College in Syracuse already had an affirmative consent policy in place but, now it’s been updated to reflect the state definition and a bill of rights. Deputy Title Nine Coordinator for Student Development Ann Bersani says new students are taking in performances of Relationships 101 to learn about the awareness campaign and new laws.
"A series of skits that are performed by our students in the performing arts center. Those students have integrated the new 'Enough is Enough' legislation into their portion of this which was incredible to see our students taking that on and explaining it to their peers."
Bersani adds she believes the performances leaves more of an impact because existing students are delivering the message and it get them talking to each other. Bersani explains that could potentially open the door for more reporting.
"We are really driving towards a culture, not just at LeMoyne, but across college campuses of bi-standard intervention. Teaching students you know what's right and what's wrong, you know if something is off, so step in, stand up and speak out. We are taking care of each other."
Syracuse University has implemented the required changes in its campus policies and procedures. From early on in the legislation's campaign, Syracuse University hosted several events, including a panel discussion with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in April and a press conference with governor Cuomo in January.
Since the start of the academic year, Syracuse University has implemented the following changes :
- The Syracuse University Policy on Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Stalking, or Relationship Violence has been updated with the New York State universal definition of affirmative consent and the amnesty policy.
- The Sexual Violence Victim/Survivor Bill of Rights has been added to the updated sexual and relationship violence resources bathroom sticker.
- Syracuse University has created a handout of the sexual and relationship violence resources and Sexual Violence Victim/Survivor Bill of Rights. This was distributed during the incoming student “Speak About It” presentation, and will continue to be distributed at student trainings.
- Syracuse University staff are training and will continue to train students, faculty, and staff throughout the year. This includes targeted trainings for student leaders and student-athletes.
- Student transcripts will now have a notation if a student is suspended or expelled “after a finding of responsibility for a code of conduct violation”.
- Changes are actively being incorporated into printed materials, website content, and trainings.
LeMoyne College has made changes to its handbook by including the adding the verbiage provided by the state, a new bill of rights, a transcript notation policy, and new policies and procedures in notifying survivors of their rights including their right to access outside law enforcement, plain language notification of confidentiality and privacy laws and access to campus and outside confidential resources.
The new laws also protects students under a statewide amnesty policy when they report incidents of sexual assault or sexual violence they are granted immunity from certain campus policies have been broken including the violation of drugs and alcohol.