By Jason Klaiber
[Photo retrieved from syracuse.com]
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has traveled to college campuses throughout New York to explain the initiative for the New York State “Enough is Enough” legislation signed into law in July.
According to the press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, “Enough Is Enough” is a statewide policy designed to combat sexual violence between college students on and off their campuses through a set of comprehensive procedures and guidelines.
Hochul spoke to an audience of 80 people at 1 p.m. Friday in the Doyle Hall Trustees Room at St. Bonaventure University to raise awareness of the policy.
During her 17-minute-long speech, Hochul said the legislation takes the place of the previous “patchwork,” or non-uniform, approach to dealing with sexual assault at colleges within New York borders.
“People weren’t acknowledging that [sexual assault] was going on right beneath our eyes,” said Hochul. “This is not limited to women only. If I say ‘women,’ I mean it more generically in covering both sexes.”
The first rule is to follow the conditions of affirmative consent—an agreement by both parties to “continue down the path” they’re on, she said.
“The law has changed,” said Hochul. “You cannot assume that someone wanted something without their consent. If she’s under the influence of alcohol or has been drugged, she’s really not in the position to say ‘no.’”
Hochul said the second rule is to allow amnesty toward a student’s more minor offenses against school policy, such as underage drinking or drug abuse, in an attempt to break any silence related to a sexual assault.
“Our view as a state is that a greater public good is served if we close our eyes to the infraction and look at the greater crime, which is the assaults on someone else,” she said. “You need to come forward. You need to be part of the solution.”
The legislation also contains a bill of rights—a guide on how to properly handle a sexual violence situation on campus for the victim’s comfort.
“Every single person on campus has to be trained,” said Hochul. “Everybody has to know what to do, because you don’t know who the first person is that’s going to see the victim that night, the day after or whenever she’s ready to talk. I want to make sure everybody in the infrastructure that’s built around protecting these students knows what to do.”
She said the victim’s on-campus community should empower them to know they have options.
“She may want to have [the assault] dealt with within the confines of her campus, where she feels more secure,” said Hochul.
She explained that a small percentage of serial rapists commits the majority of sexual crimes on college grounds.
“When they are penalized for this, the behavior will stop,” said Hochul. “We need to have that sense of disgust. I want to get to that point of public shame for anyone who dare cross the line when it comes to a college student.”
She expects the “Enough is Enough” initiative to be implemented in college orientation routines across New York State by next fall.
“I would hope you feel that one year later, we have taken this issue, we have grabbed it by the throat and said ‘we own this,’” said Hochul.