To combat sexual assault on college campuses, Gov. Cuomo signed into law on Tuesday a bill that requires all universities in New York state to adopt a “yes means yes” affirmative consent policy for students engaged in sexual activity. Under the law, silence can never be interpreted as consent.
“Why is sex assault on college campuses such a problem? Because we let it go on too long,” Governor Cuomo said at New York University, where he spoke to a crowd of the bill’s supporters. New York’s public universities adopted this policy last year, but it will now be expanded to private colleges, too.
“Affirmative consent is a clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed, and voluntary agreement between all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent is active, not passive,” according to the law. Campuses will be required to distribute a “Student Bill of Rights” detailing students’ legal rights if they are the victims of a sex crime. The new law will also boost training for law enforcement and faculty, and give state police $4.5 million to handle sexual assault cases, $4.5 million to rape crisis centers that serve students, and $1 million to college campuses.
The bill’s biggest supporters include U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Lady Gaga, who in June penned an op-ed along with Cuomo in Billboard Magazine, calling for stricter legislature to help curb the campus sexual assault epidemic.
“Today, New York is making a clear and bold statement,” said Cuomo. “Sexual violence is a crime, and from now on in this state it will be investigated and prosecuted like one.”
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