Uniform sexual assault policy announced for all SUNY campuses

The video above was created by the New Paltz Student Association in support of the national “It’s On Us” campaign.

President Obama launched this Sexual Assault Prevention Campaign in September. The SUNY New Paltz community urges everyone to pledge their commitment to preventing sexual assault on our campus and all college campuses.

Utilize the hashtag #ItsOnUs on your various social media accounts to help spread awareness of this important campaign. And remember:

#ItsOnUs to say something, not look the other way, and take the pledge to help stop sexual assault.

SUNY New Paltz is ahead of the curve when it comes to the issues raised in SUNY’s newly adopted uniform sexual assault prevention and response policy.

The first of its kind in the nation, the policy aims to create a safer learning and living environment for students by outlining specific and consistent expectations of safety and responsibility at all 64 campuses. Key points of the policy include: a uniform definition of consent and amnesty policy to encourage reporting; uniform campus climate assessments and confidentiality and reporting protocol; comprehensive statewide training for campus police and administrators; and a statewide public awareness campaign.

According to Tanhena Pacheco-Dunn, the College’s executive director for compliance and campus climate and a member of the SUNY working group that drafted the policy, the new consent definition is based, in part, on language adopted by SUNY New Paltz last summer.

“SUNY’s work on this is really progressive and comprehensive,” she said. “It talks about all the responsibilities of the parties involved in sexual activity and making sure that affirmative consent is obtained before moving forward.”

Pacheco-Dunn noted that several of the key points raised in the policy are already in place at New Paltz, including the possibility of granting amnesty to people who report assaults who may hesitate because of drug or alcohol involvement.

“Amnesty has been a part of the code of conduct for years,” she said. “We’ve been very progressive and taken a victim-support approach. We’re making sure our campus is developing a culture of respect, a mutual responsibility of taking care of one another.”

Drafted over the past two months, in consultation with SUNY leadership and working groups of internal and external stakeholders, the policy is a result of a resolution passed by the SUNY Board of Trustees earlier this fall in response to the Governor’s request to create a comprehensive system-wide uniform set of practices to combat sexual assaults on college campuses.

In a press release distributed today, Governor Cuomo said the new policy is a “critical step” toward fighting sexual misconduct on college campuses.

“By implementing a uniform sexual assault prevention policy, we are better protecting our students and our communities and setting an example for other states and schools to follow,” he said. “I applaud the SUNY Board and Chancellor Zimpher for their leadership on this issue and their continued commitment to fighting for New York’s students.”

To read the Governor’s full press release, visit http://www.suny.edu/suny-news/press-releases/december-2014/12-2-14-sex-assault-policies/governor-cuomo-announces-suny-adopts-a-comprehensive-system-wide-uniform-sexual-assault-policy.html.