There is no question that rape and sexual assault on college campuses has been an area of concern and debate in recent years. How faculty, staff and students deal with such a situation may vary, but the launch of a new training program means doing nothing should no longer be an option.
On Jan. 27, Cuomo announced a bystander training program being developed by the state Department of Health and the State University of New York to assist college students, faculty, and staff in identifying sexual assault and interpersonal violence on their campuses.
The training involves using existing research pertaining to sexual violence prevention on college campuses to teach bystanders how to intervene safely following all stages of an incident of sexual abuse, relationship violence or stalking.
Following the voluntary training sessions, SUNY faculty and staff will be certified to implement bystander intervention training programs and share their new knowledge and skills with the entire student body.
The goal is for everyone in the campus community to learn safe methods of intervention. This plan is part of a continuous effort by Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” campaign, which aims to eliminate sexual violence on college campuses.
The program is being funded by a $496,000 federal CDC and Rape Prevention and Education Program grant
Cuomo signed the “Enough is Enough” legislation in July 2015. It is considered the most aggressive policy of its kind nationwide. The rules adopted under that bill require all colleges adopt a set of comprehensive procedures and guidelines, including a uniform definition of affirmative consent, a statewide amnesty policy, and expanded access to law enforcement.
“New York is a national leader in the fight against sexual assault on college campuses and this new training further strengthens our efforts,” Cuomo said.
“Through these training programs, we will provide students, faculty, and staff with new insight into how to recognize an incident of violence before it occurs and teach them a few actions they can take that may prevent it from happening,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.
United University Professions, the union representing 35,000 academic and professional faculty on 29 New York-state operated campuses, responded positively to Cuomo’s bystander intervention program.
“We are hopeful that this initiative, which UUP supports and has called for in the past, will improve the safety of our students and faculty. We look forward to working with the governor and SUNY to begin this important training program,” said UUP President Frederick Kowal.