Open letter to Sullivan County’s newspaper editors & elected officials:
The Democratic Women of Sullivan County support Governor Cuomo and Senator Gillibrand in their efforts to address the epidemic of sexual assault plaguing our college campuses here in New York State and across the country.
We support Gov. Cuomo’s “call to action” and believe that his “Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses” is crucial to the health and well-being of all NYS college women. We support and advocate for implementation of his plan for a “comprehensive, uniform sexual assault policy on college campuses in New York State”.
The Governor reports some very disturbing facts: 5,000 forcible sexual offenses in 2012 were reported; it is estimated that fewer than 5% of rapes are reported to law enforcement; more than 90% of college rapes are committed by just 3% of college men. It has also been estimated that 25% of college women will be sexually assaulted.
We are pleased that all 64 college campuses adopted a sexual assault prevention policy but we believe, as does the Governor that the law needs to be changed to include a “statewide definition of affirmative consent, a statewide amnesty policy to ensure students report sexual assault…and a Sexual Violence Victim and Survivor Bill of Rights”.
Likewise, we also strongly support Senator Gillibrand’s “CASAct” (Campus Accountability & Safety Act) to stop under-reporting by college officials. 40% of colleges across the country have never reported a sexual assault. Senator Gillibrand does “not believe they’ve never had any incident” and it is possible that incidents were “shoved under the rug”.
Senator Gillibrand believes that “it starts with respect, respecting one another, valuing one another, and it’s about transparency and accountability” to turn this epidemic around. We support our Senator’s plan to: “create a unified process for disciplinary proceedings” and have these results posted online; require “confidential counselors” to help survivors on campuses; implement a consequence of up to a 1% budgetary loss to colleges who are non-compliant with the new regulation; utilize campus climate surveys to understand the culture of the student body; ensure equity by instituting Title 9 coordinators & creating Advocacy Centers, as has been done at SUNY Albany.
Here in Sullivan County, we are fortunate enough to have RISE (Rape Intervention Services & Education) but this organization is limited in its scope by budgetary constraints. We also have the support of our Legislative Chairman, Scott Samuelson, who will advocate for change on behalf of Sullivan County women and he supports our Governor’s initiative, “Enough is Enough”. The Democratic Women of Sullivan County urge our local high schools and Sullivan County Community College to address this very serious problem and take pre-emptive actions, including educational prevention programming to decrease violent sexual assaults against women and girls. We need to assure women and their families in our county that Title 9 violations stemming from sexual violence and sexual assault attacks are being addressed vigorously with the ultimate goal of eliminating such crimes.
The Democratic Women of Sullivan County look forward to working with you to achieve this very important outcome.
The Democratic Women of Sullivan County
Debra Gabriel – President, Joan Stoddard – Vice-President, Carol Montana – Secretary, Lily Stettner – Treasurer, Donna Schick – Steering Comm. & Founding member, Kathleen LaBuda – Steering Comm. & Founding member, Adrianna Greco – Steering Committee member
PO Box 387, Liberty, NY 12754