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Campus News

UB protocols help inform new SUNY sexual assault prevention policy

The annual Take Back the Night event aims to increase awareness of sexual assault and sexual violence, both on campus and off.

By CHRISTINE VIDAL

Published December 11, 2014

“I would say that our current policies contain about 90 percent of what has been set forth in the new SUNY policies.”
Sharon Nolan-Weiss, director
Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The new sexual assault prevention and response policy for all SUNY campuses announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Dec. 2 is the first of its kind in the nation and is based in large measure on input from UB.

The UB-developed Confidentiality and Reporting Protocol was used as a model for SUNY campuses. Dennis R. Black, vice president for university life and services, and Jim Jarvis, associate counsel, served on a working group of SUNY representatives that developed the SUNY-wide policy.

The policy addresses sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

UB already has in place the reporting options, accommodations, assistance and statement rights called for under the initiative. New information is being added to the university’s online policies about options for confidentially disclosing sexual violence, the sexual violence victims/survivor bill of rights and the new sexual violence response policy.

“I would say that our current policies contain about 90 percent of what has been set forth in the new SUNY polices,” says Sharon Nolan-Weiss, director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Title IX coordinator. “We have been doing things very well, and we can always be doing more.

“Sexual assault prevention needs to be everyone’s responsibility.”

The comprehensive SUNY policy applies to more than 463,000 students attending all SUNY colleges and universities, and is designed to create a safer learning and living environment for students by outlining specific and consistent expectations of safety and responsibility.

Key points of the policy include:

  • Uniform definition of consent.
  • Uniform amnesty policy to encourage reporting.
  • Comprehensive statewide training for campus police and college administrators.
  • Statewide public awareness campaign.
  • Uniform confidentiality and reporting protocol for all SUNY campuses.
  • Uniform campus climate assessments.

The SUNY policy also creates a Sexual Violence Victim/Survivor Bill of Rights that specifically informs victims of sexual assault of their right to report sexual assault to local, campus or state law enforcement.

In addition, the policy outlines how to access campus-specific victim resources, including obtaining a restraining/no contact order and counseling, health, legal and support services.

The Options for Confidentially Disclosing Sexual Violence (the former Confidentiality and Reporting Protocol) enables survivors to understand how information they provide will be acted on, to know the resources they can consult that are completely confidential, and to get the information and support they need regardless of whether they would like to move forward with a report of sexual assault.

UB will be strengthening other provisions contained in the SUNY policy, such as its Good Samaritan Policy, to make clear that it applies to a sexual assault situation as well as to someone experiencing severe intoxication or serious injury. UB also will implement the Campus Climate Assessment, which includes a SUNY survey instrument that campuses will implement beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.

UB has been a leader in sexual assault prevention programs on college campuses, beginning with the UB Personal Safety Committee, founded in 1991 to examine campus-wide safety and security issues, Nolan-Weiss says.

“UB has had prevention and awareness programs, policies and practices in place for many years to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and we have adjusted them over time to make them more effective and assure that they comport with applicable laws, regulations and agency guidance,” she says.

The SUNY initiative includes the launch of a new website that provides important information about sexual assault prevention and response on college campuses in a user-friendly format for students, parents, administrators and law enforcement.

The SUNY website also provides resources for students to learn how they can protect themselves and seek help when necessary, and access data regarding all sexual assault and violent crimes reported on all college campuses in New York State.