Monday, February 23, 2009

The Original CUNY-wide sexual-assault policy Proposal with Adjustments after two negotiations before the taskforce meeting


To: Vice Chancellor Frederick Schaffer, Vice Chancellor Garrie Moore, Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson

From: Jerin Alam, Hunter College and Elischia Fludd, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

CC: USS Chair Robert Ramos and USS Vice Chair Nicholas Kanellopoulos

Date: July 24, 2008

Re: CUNY-wide Sexual Assault Policy

Statement of the Problem: Since federal law requires colleges to have policies on sexual assault, we investigated the policies of various CUNY colleges. We found that there are significant differences among these policies that could lead to disparate treatment of both victims and perpetrators of sexual assault from one campus to another. Some policies do not address such matters as saving evidence, and most concentrate on what victims should do and not the standards of behavior expected of students and the penalties for perpetrating sexual assault.

We also found an underlying assumption that students who are victims of sexual assault should pursue the matter through the criminal justice system, a course of action some victims may not wish to pursue. Colleges need to take action to insure the safety of students in cases of sexual assault.

The National Crime Victimization Survey found that about 3% of college women are raped each academic year, usually by someone they know. The National College Women Sexual Victimization study estimates about 20 to 25% of college women are victims of sexual assault and attempted during their college years. According to research on urban commuter students conducted by professors at John Jay College, approximately 27% of female students reported having been sexually assaulted in the past year. The 19 CUNY schools, serving 400,000 students, reported only four sex offenses in their 2005 reports to the Department of Education. We know there are more incidents of sexual assault happening on campus. We want to address why they are not being reported and have a CUNY-wide policy that makes it easier for the victims and the colleges to report incidents.

Our Proposal: A CUNY-wide policy on sexual assault is clearly needed. We propose to model this policy on CUNY’s highly successful sexual harassment policy, and use a similar mechanism—campus-based boards that implement and monitor the policy. We believe this structure will be most effective, and we believe it can be implemented within one academic year.

The most important thing we would like to stress on is having input from all different communities within CUNY, from the administrators and faculty to the staff, students and alumni. We believe the most effective policy will address the needs and concerns of all the different groups within CUNY, of which students make up the largest portion. We would love to help you gather opinion from different students, such as student governments, different ethnic and religious populations, and the LGBTQ community. Many different people from the groups mentioned above would also love to offer assistance.

The chart below illustrates what we propose. We based this on successfully implemented policies at SUNY Albany, Case Western Reserve, and the University of California.

CUNY-wide Sexual Assault Policy Timeline Proposal

Community Assessment
November 1st
Schools from across CUNY would be surveyed to assess what services students would like to see implemented.

Community Input
November 1st
1. At least 3 town hall meetings hosted by a different CUNY campus in different boroughs would be held to solicit feedback from the diverse CUNY population.
2. Each meeting would be moderated by a student leader and include a panel consisting of at least one SGA representative, and a representative from the coalition of CUNY Women’s Centers.

Policy Drafting
December 1st
1. A taskforce consisting of a maximum of 8-10 persons would draft a policy that adheres to the legal standards of the Clery Act, Title IX and any other relevant legal standards, in conjunction with the expressed needs of students.
2. The taskforce will consist of a student representative from each Borough (5) and be Chaired by an expert on Title IX and Clery Act compliance (1) within school sexual- assault policies. The taskforce will also include two at-large student members (Ms. Jerin Alam and Ms. Elischia Fludd, or a representative designated by them) and a representative from the CUNY women’s centers. The taskforce will make decisions by consensus.

Public Review & Submission of comments
February 1st
Draft of policy would be placed online and distributed throughout each college’s SGA’s and faculty senates for review and recommendations for revisions.

Policy Revisions
March 1st
1. Taskforce will make all necessary revisions and prepare document for submission to the Board of Trustees.
2. Taskforce shall meet at least once to revise policy.

Policy Submission
April 1st
Final version of the CUNY-wide Sexual Assault Policy is submitted to the Board of Trustees.

CUNY-WIDE sexual-assault policy survey results


Purpose of the survey:

Student taskforce members Jerin Alam and Elischia Fludd re-designed the Student Development staff survey created by the taskforce into a student-friendly version on the Internet. The survey link was mass distributed to CUNY students via student, faculty and administrative contacts throughout CUNY in order to garner an inclusive-range of voices throughout CUNY about student knowledge and accessibility of CUNY campuses sexual assault policies.

The anonymous survey yielded the following key results:

Background data:

• 542 total survey responses were received from all CUNY campuses except the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, CUNY School of Law, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Kingsborough Community College and Hostos Community College.
• 386 students chose to identify their status in school (156 students skipped the question). In order of highest to lowest response rates, Seniors make up 23.8%, Juniors 22.0%, Graduate students 19.9%, Sophomores 10.4%, Doctoral students 7.5%, Freshmen 7.3%, Other 6.0% (CUNY alumni, staff, faculty, upper and lower status of current students and an exchange student to CUNY from Paris), and BA/MA students 3.1% of the data.

Knowledge of campus sexual assault information:

• Overall, 60-86% of students are not aware of the information their college has pertaining to sexual assault. Such information includes knowledge of NYS penal law, where to report a sexual assault, available counseling services for those affected by sexual assault, prevention education about sexual assault, the rights of complainants and accused and on-campus disciplinary procedures and clear sanctions for committing sexual assault.

Student satisfaction of campus information on sexual assault:

• 53.6% of students do not feel that their college provides adequate information about sexual assault.

Preferred information source for sexual assault information:

• 50-80% of students preferred information about sexual assault to be given on their college website, student handbook, in pamphlets, orientation seminar and workshops. Other specifications included emails, flyers, mandatory classes, awareness raising programs and rape crisis services.

CUNY-wide sexual-assault policy taskforce Members


Here are the current taskforce members as of February 12, 2009:

1) Jerin Alam, Hunter College student
2) Vanessa Anderson, Institutional Research
3) Eija Ayravainen, Dean of Student Affairs, Hunter
4) William Barry, University Director of Public Safety
5) Kristen Bowes, Associate General Counsel
6) Gilen Chan, Counsel to the President, City Tech
7) Elischia Fludd, John Jay College student
8) Katie Gentile, Director of the Women's Center, John Jay
9) Nicholas Kanellopoulos, Former Vice Chair, Univ. Student Senate
10) Garrie Moore, VC of Student Development
11) Lisa Montgomery, VP of Student Development and Enrollment Management, Hostos
12) Zina Richardson, University Director of Student Affairs
13) Frederick Schaffer, General Counsel and Sr. Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs



Our second press release was sent out on October 31, 2008

Students for a Greater CUNY
October 31, 2008


Sexual Assault policy taskforce to improve student information on sexual assault

New York, NY- The CUNY-wide sexual assault policy movement is gaining momentum. Student taskforce members and co-founders of the movement, Jerin Alam and Elischia Fludd, have kept the taskforce accountable to the students of CUNY, the largest stakeholders in the policy. Their efforts are finally paying off. The dynamic duo revealed the results of a survey of student knowledge of campus sexual assault policies that was widely distributed throughout CUNY via the Internet to the taskforce at their first meeting on October 21st.

Alam and Fludd received a total of 542 responses from 18 of the 23 CUNY campuses by distributing the link to their contacts throughout the University. Survey responses were received from Freshmen through Doctoral students, as well as a few alumni, faculty, BA-MA students and an exchange student to CUNY from Paris.

The most salient results of the survey are that 60-86% of students indicated that they are not aware of the information their college has pertaining to sexual assault, including counseling services, prevention education and disciplinary procedures for when a sexual assault occurs. Over half of students indicated that their college is inadequate in providing information about sexual assault. Moreover, 50-80% of students prefer to receive information about sexual assault through conventional measures such as in the student handbook and on the college website, but also through rape crisis services and mandatory classes.

In response to such overwhelming results, the taskforce unanimously decided to make a strong commitment to adhere to student opinions by including prevention education and training in the system-wide policy. Alam and Fludd remain optimistic that the initial draft of the policy that will be introduced in December will reflect the best interest of all stakeholders within CUNY and meet federal standards.

The taskforce will meet again in December to polish the draft of the policy before scheduling town hall meetings at CUNY campuses in different boroughs to gather feedback from the CUNY community. Alam and Fludd are collecting letters of support for the components of the policy to include the services and information students have asked for.




October 17, 2008


Students Survey Despite Taskforce Opposition
New York, NY

College sexual assault is a major concern for colleges and universities around the country. Institutions of higher education address how they care for the psychological wellness and physical safety of their students through their sexual assault policies, thereby meeting federal government requirements under Title IX and the Jeanne Cleary Act. Surprisingly, the City University of New York (CUNY) does not have a system‐wide sexual assault policy. In a unprecedented move, Elischia Fludd, a BA/MA student at John Jay, and Jerin Alam, a CUNY Baccalaureate student with home college at Hunter, negotiated with CUNY Vice Chancellor of Legal Affairs and General Counsel, Frederick Schaffer, for a democratic and transparent process to create a comprehensive, prevention‐focused policy for the more than 300,000 members of CUNY.

A task force has been assembled to create this comprehensive, prevention‐focused sexual assault policy with a commitment that it will be readily accessible to all CUNY members within one academic year. Fludd and Alam make up two of four student leaders on this dynamic, all‐inclusive, taskforce of 12 that represents CUNY’s community and senior colleges, Student Development personnel, faculty and staff researchers, the Department of Public Safety, General Counsel staff, and the Council of Presidents.

Fludd and Alam’s first challenge as members of the taskforce arose this month when some members of the taskforce decided to conduct a survey of Student Development office staff at each CUNY school to assess what services and information students are currently receiving pertaining to sexual assault. The decision of the taskforce was made without a formal meeting of all the members, and despite urgent student requests to maintain the integrity of the proposed transparent process by including a survey of students. Few task force members expressed similar concerns. Fludd and Alam believe that the task force needs to know what services and information students are actually receiving more than what the various schools believe they are doing. Students are the largest stakeholders in gaining a uniform sexual assault policy, and their
opinions need to be heard. So Fludd and Alam are surveying CUNY students themselves.

As part of their commitment to keeping the taskforce accountable to the students of CUNY, Fludd and Alam re‐constructed the originally dense survey to create a student‐friendly version on the Internet. Fludd and Alam will voice the student opinions that they gather through this process at the first taskforce meeting. To access the survey, go to:

The taskforce is scheduled to have its first meeting on Tuesday, October 21st, at 3pm.