New Victims’ Unit Part of NY’s “Enough is Enough” Law; Good Start to Changing Culture on Assaults at Colleges and Universities, Advocates Say
September 9, 2015
by Nia Hamm
NEW YORK – In less than a month, New York’s affirmative consent law, requiring uniform steps to combat sexual assault on college campuses, takes effect.
State officials have announced details of how they plan to implement the law, including a dozen State Police investigators assigned to a new victims’ unit to help investigate campus rape cases.
Stephanie Nilva, executive director of the domestic violence prevention group Day One, says it’s a good start to changing the culture about assaults at colleges and universities.
“Would I like to see more? Of course, and I think the state would like to see more as well,” Nilva says. “I am really impressed that the governor, in passing this bill, first of all, not only focused on this important issue, got the bill passed, but also put money behind it – money not just for the law enforcement, but also for the community-based organizations.”
Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Enough is Enough law, the rules at state institutions are extended to private schools.
They include adopting student codes requiring affirmative consent before sex, and spelling out students’ rights to report sexual assault, dating or domestic violence and stalking to police.
Carry That Weight is a sexual assault survivor advocacy organization that helped Gov. Cuomo’s administration spread awareness about the law. But the group’s campaign director, Zoe Ridolfi-Starr, says some provisions could still be improved, including the monitoring and enforcement portions of the law.
In Ridolfi-Starr’s view, it lacks incentive for colleges to comply.
“The potential punishment for schools is that they would have their state funding or charter revoked, which is just not realistically ever going to happen,” she explains, “which means there is not a clear incentive for schools to actually comply with the new regulation.”
The new law, also known as New York’s “Yes Means Yes” law, mandates that state officials take extra steps to ensure evidence is properly collected and documented, and that cases are properly investigated. Extra training will also be provided for local authorities.
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