NEWS AND ISSUES
April 28, 2010
The Board of Trustees
c/o The Office of the Secretary
The City University of New York
535 East 80th Street
New York, NY 10021
Honorable Board of Trustees,
As the State Senator whose district includes the City University of New York's (CUNY) John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Macaulay Honors College, I write to express my appreciation for CUNY's decision to make education about the prevention and appropriate handling of on-campus sexual assault incidents a CUNY system-wide mandate, as well as to articulate several of my concerns and suggestions.
CUNY's proposed new policy is a great step in the effort to increase education about, and reporting of, sexual assaults. I commend CUNY's administration for being proactive on this important issue. However, I have two outstanding concerns with the policy as it has been proposed and hope my comments may be helpful as this proposal is finalized.
While proposed language about bystander education and requirements for preventative education are impressive, in order to ensure adequate implementation of the sexual-assault policy, it is necessary to spell out a basic curriculum as well as approximate time duration to which all of CUNY must adhere. I understand that CUNY's central administration may be reluctant to mandate procedures for the 23 different colleges, nonetheless sexual assault is such an awful, pervasive and complex problem that CUNY must enforce a uniform protocol.
Further, I have some hesitations about the ways in which alleged sexual assaults are to be reported under the proposed policy. I appreciate the legal concerns involved with anonymous reporting, but the most comprehensive sexual assault policies, in different types of institutions across the country, offer anonymous reporting to alleged victims. For instance, the military successfully uses anonymous reporting to mitigate the potential fear and shame attendant with reporting sexual assaults. Unfortunately, as you know, most college campuses have historically under-reported incidents of sexual assault; indeed, recent estimates by the Center for Public Integrity suggest that 90% of on-campus sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement officials. Colleges should do everything within reason to solve this problem, and anonymous reporting is a logical piece of the solution.
Thank you again for your commitment to reducing sexual assaults. I appreciate your consideration of my concerns and look forward to your response.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate