Nineteen percent of women and 6 percent of men in college will be victims of attempted or completed sexual assault in the course of their undergraduate careers, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Justice.
"Enough is Enough," a piece of legislation signed into law by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo July 7, seeks to combat the national epidemic.
Yesterday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was at Niagara University to explain the new law and praise the institution for leading the charge against sexual assault on college campuses. Niagara, in recent months, has revised its sexual misconduct policy, which is now compliant with "Enough is Enough" legislation and the Violence Against Women Act, created a sexual assault bill of rights, initiated affirmative consent training for new students and their parents, and provided students with training on healthy relationships and violence prevention.
"I'm here to thank you on behalf of the governor for embracing this initiative," Hochul, a Hamburg native whose brother is an NU alumnus. "You truly have; you are the first college that I've gone to in Western New York to share this story with after the legislation was passed."
At the same time, Hochul stated all colleges and universities, regardless of previous proactivity, must continue to be diligent about strengthening the protection of sexual assault victims.
"You are in an environment where dignity and respect for each other is second nature to you," Hochul added. "From the administration on down, those are the values that Niagara University represents. But we have to make sure that nobody deviates from those good values."
The bills introduced by Cuomo take steps toward encouraging students who are victims of sexual assault to step forward by further defining the act of sexual assault and the definition of the term consent as "Yes Means Yes," according to a press release from the governor's office.
"This new law does more than provide additional resources," said Jenna Roberts, vice president of the Niagara University Student Government Association. "It draws out a conversation about how we talk and act regarding sexual assault, how we talk and act regarding our Vincentian mission of support for the marginalized, and how we talk and act as a community, with one voice, one set of behaviors that say enough is enough with apathy regarding this issue."
The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University's president, affirmed the institution will continue to implement safety measures guided by its mission and "Enough is Enough" legislation. Maher estimated Niagara's record freshman-to-sophomore retention rate is likely the result of the university's "dynamic, caring living-learning environment that always puts our students first."
"Our support of this legislation comes deeply from our Catholic and Vincentian mission at Niagara University," Maher said. "The educational environment we seek to create focuses on the dignity of every human being who comes on our campus."
To learn more about Niagara University, visit www.niagara.edu.