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.

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