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Cuomo announces 4-point plan to reduce sexual violence in educational institutions as part of 2021 Women's Agenda

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Tue, Feb 23rd 2021 03:00 pm

√ SUNY will work with NYS Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence to establish Center for Advanced Research in Reducing the Impact of Violence in Education

√ SUNY's Student Conduct Institute will expand its existing resources and engagement to 1,000 institutions; will make its sexual & interpersonal violence prevention and response course available for free to any college or university across the country

√ Launches ‘I'm Asking for a Friend’ social & digital campaign to help students identify signs of sexual assault and domestic/dating violence

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a four-point plan to reduce sexual violence in educational institutions as part of the state's 2021 Women's Agenda. As part of this plan, the governor has directed SUNY and the state's Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence – a newly reimagined agency proposed by the governor in his 2021 State of the State – to establish an innovative hub to develop enforceable policies, trainings and outreach programs to combat and end sexual violence on college campuses.

SUNY's Student Conduct Institute will also expand its existing resources and engagement to 1,000 institutions. SUNY also will make its sexual and interpersonal violence prevention and response course available to other colleges and universities across the nation, allowing them to benefit from New York's leadership and program expertise on confronting sexual violence. Additionally, SUNY will launch a new social and digital campaign to raise awareness about the signs of sexual assault and intimate partner violence and connect students to support services.

These new actions build on New York's "Enough is Enough" legislation, signed into law in 2015.

"We've made significant strides in combating sexual violence on college campuses with aggressive measures that hold our colleges and universities to the highest possible standards," Cuomo said. "As the world around us changes, we need to become more innovative in the way we approach education and awareness about sexual violence, and these new measures will expand our reach to even more students across the state and help make our colleges even safer."

Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, chair of the New York State Council on Women and Girls, said, "Sexual violence has been a pervasive issue in our educational institutions and beyond, and New York has taken bold, nation-leading action to fight against sexual assault on college campuses and create safer environments for our future leaders to receive a first-class education. This new plan builds on the work we've already done to combat sexual and domestic violence in our educational institutions by using innovative strategies to increase public education and awareness while prioritizing access to support and services for survivors."

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said, "Under the leadership of Gov. Cuomo, SUNY has been in the forefront in ending domestic and gender-based violence on campuses. We have to repair a lot of damage done by the former federal administration that attempted to reverse policies to keep our students safe on campus. Today's announcement by Gov. Cuomo is further proof that our state will continue to lead in this effort with comprehensive policies, shared practices, and resources. SUNY is recognized across the nation as a think tank on the legal issues surrounding due diligence with any allegation or complaint, and developing policies to protect all students, particularly LGBTQIA+ students who are disproportionately impacted by sexual and interpersonal violence and less likely to seek services or report incidents. With Gov. Cuomo's support we will continue to lead the way."

The governor's four-point plan includes:

•National Hub for Policy Development: SUNY, in partnership with the New York State Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, will establish the Center for Advanced Research in Reducing the Impact of Violence in Education – or ARRIVE – to oversee the development of enforceable policies, student-focused training and outreach programs to combat sexual violence on college campuses. Trainings and programs developed by the center will be adopted by all 89 SUNY and CUNY campuses this fall, and made available to thousands of professionals nationwide through membership in SUNY's Student Conduct Institute.

•Expanding the Reach of SUNY's Student Conduct Institute Resources: SUNY's Student Conduct Institute will continue to expand its resources and engagement. Cuomo’s team said, “While federal response to sexual and interpersonal violence has been inconsistent, the SUNY Student Conduct Institute has helped to position New York to lead the nation in its innovative approach to preparing schools to respond to sexual assault with high-quality training on due process, trauma-informed investigations and adjudications, questioning and weighing of evidence and other critical best practices in the investigation and conduct process that complies with relevant case law.” SUNY's Student Conduct Institute has grown to more than 420 colleges, universities and other organizations, including all SUNY and CUNY campuses. Its member institutions educate more than 3 million college students nationwide. By the start of the 2022 academic year, SUNY's Student Conduct Institute will seek to expand to 1,000 institutions, ensuring at least 5 million college students nationwide can benefit from New York's leadership and program expertise on confronting sexual violence. More information and an application for institutional membership are available at system.suny.edu/sci/.

•Releasing SUNY's Nation-Leading Sexual & Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Response Course to More Colleges and Universities: SUNY will release its trauma-informed and survivor-centered sexual and interpersonal violence prevention and response course for free to any college or university across the country. Originally developed in 2017, the course is a customizable online training system to assist colleges and universities in training students in the prevention of sexual, interpersonal and related violence.

•Social and Digital Campaign to Raise Awareness: SUNY and the Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence will create and launch the "I'm Asking for a Friend" social and digital campaign to help students identify and prevent sexual assault and domestic or dating violence. The campaign will also alert students of support services that are available.

As part of his 2021 State of the State, the governor put forth a comprehensive package of proposals to combat domestic and gender-based violence.

Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Kelli Owens said, "Thanks to Gov. Cuomo's leadership, New York state is a national leader when it comes to protecting the rights of women, ending gender-based violence, and preventing sexual violence. OPDV is proud to partner with SUNY/CUNY to continue these efforts. As we reimagine our systems to deliver more survivor-centered support to victims and survivors of dating and sexual violence, training, outreach and awareness are key to our progress. We look forward to expanding the safety net of support for survivors and continuing our progress through these innovative approaches."

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, "OVS provides assistance to crime victims and works hard with a network of partners to ensure that all crime victims have the help they need. We are proud to partner with SUNY and OPDV on these critical initiatives, which will help put an end to sexual violence and ensure that victims can access support. We thank Gov. Cuomo, Secretary DeRosa and Chancellor Malatras for their leadership and steadfast commitment to making New York State a safer place for all."

Other initiatives at SUNY include: SUNY SPECTRUM, the nation's largest conference addressing violence against members of the LGBTQIA+ community; SAVR (Sexual Assault and Violence Response), an online program of state and national resources; the SUNY Visa and Immigration resource to serve immigrant and international victims and survivors; the SUNY RAPID training to help faculty and staff report disclosures of violence, crime and harassment; and SUNY's “Got Your Back,” a leading program providing comfort bags at hospitals and shelters throughout New York for survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence.

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