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Editorial: Sex-assault law must be followed

Editorial: Sex-assault law must be followed

College campuses have responsibility to campus sexual assault victims
Editorial: Sex-assault law must be followed
The Union College campus.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

The good news for college students and their parents is that 88 percent of 244 colleges in New York are either complying or significantly complying with the state’s 1-year-old “Enough is Enough” law designed to combat campus sexual assault.

The bad news is that the remaining 12 percent, 29 schools, aren’t complying at all.

And that should be of concern not only to those directly affected by the policy like parents and students, but to all citizens who should reasonably expect that their  institutions of higher learning would enthusiastically and completely follow a law designed to protect our children from sexual predators.

The Enough is Enough law, which went into effect last September, was designed to force colleges to adopt uniform standards and practices for addressing campus sexual assaults and bringing perpetrators to justice.
It includes requirements for more cooperation between colleges and outside law enforcement, mandated sexual assault training for students and staff, a student Bill of Rights, and a uniform definition of affirmative consent stating that the partners must affirmatively agree to the participate in the sexual act.

Schools that don’t comply face a loss of aid.

Statistics show that about one in five women will experience some kind of sexual misconduct during their time in college, with all but about 5 percent of such cases going unreported.

The Trump administration is currently revisiting Obama-era national guidelines for addressing campus sexual assault, with the goal of replacing them. That’s why having a state law in place is so important and why it’s vital that colleges follow it to the letter.

While Enough is Enough is not going to solve all the problems colleges in New York state have with sexual assault, it does provide college administrators with structure, direction and consistency in how to address the problems.

From there, they can further develop their policies and improve their interaction with students and outside law enforcement.

Those who attend or send their children to local schools can be assured the law is being taken seriously here.

Union College, Skidmore College, Siena College and the College of St. Rose were all found to be fully compliant with the law, based on a set of about 60 criteria.

Schenectady County Community College, Fulton-Montgomery Community College and RPI were all found to be “significantly compliant,” showing only easily remedied minor shortcomings.

To see details on other colleges in the state, Google the New York State Office of Campus Safety and scroll down to Statewide Compliance Review Preliminary Report. For summaries for individual schools, click Review Results (Data).

The chart is kind of pain to read because the format isn’t ideally suited to home computer screens. But it can be done. To get your school’s overall rating and the state’s comments on its performance, scroll down to a school, then scroll all the way to the right to the last box.

A major step in reducing campus sexual assaults is making sure campuses in New York are following the law designed to reduce their number and bring justice to victims. It’s good to see officials holding colleges accountable.

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