Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to adopt The Golden State’s “Yes means yes” law to combat rape in the state of New York. Cuomo is reportedly concerned with very specific institutions at this time. Recently, he enforced the law on all State University of New York institutions, and he now plans to make a move on private schools.
At a press conference on Thursday, the NY Democrat expressed his concerns on how private colleges and universities in New York State handle matters of sexual assault.
“I believe there are institutions that want to protect their relationships, and don’t want the publicity of attacks happening on their campus. This is not a private matter. This is a crime.”
Governor Cuomo has a large backing on the issue, according to the Wall Street Journal; the governor has the support of many advocates and even a Republican Assemblyman. Bill Nojay, widely known for his criticism of the standing governor, sided with Cuomo in a statement on Saturday.
Nojay’s statement via email read, “Creating a statewide, uniform standard for addressing these issues will be a good step forward. I will support the Governor’s proposed legislation if it protects the rights of both the accuser and the accused.”
With Governor Cuomo stating that one in four women experiences a sexual attack during their college years, it is no surprise that the SUNY state operated campuses had 238 cases of sexual assault in the 2013-14 academic year. According to Department of Justice statistics, only 20 percent of rape victims actually report their crime, so the number of sexual assaults on SUNY campuses is certain to be higher.
One upside to “Yes Means Yes” becoming a state law, according to one student, is giving sexual assault the weight that it deserves as a criminal act. Emily Hawkins, a Colgate University senior, explained that even after the enforcement of “Yes Means Yes” at SUNY campuses, students still don’t follow the protocol.
“Legislation brings legitimacy to these types of things. It seems unnecessary to me to have to legitimize sexual assault prevention, but if law brings legitimacy, then yes, why not throw it on the books.”
According to Governor Cuomo’s statements on Thursday, the New York “Yes means yes” law will enforce more than justice for sexual assault victims. The not-yet-drafted bill will also pardon alcohol and drug violations in matters pertaining to sexual assault. With President Obama backing Cuomo by considering sexual assault on college campuses an “epidemic” in the United States, legislation may be just around the corner.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s support for the “Yes Means Yes” law has also attracted the attention of states like New Hampshire and New Jersey.