Binghamton University is among the very first SUNY campuses to comply with the state’s new uniform sexual assault prevention and response policy.
The policy, which created a uniform definition of affirmative consent across all SUNY campuses, was developed last fall during a meeting with the SUNY Board of Trustees and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
According to Brian Rose, the vice president for student affairs at BU, the University has been focusing on sexual violence prevention for several years.
“Much of the substance of the SUNY policies is already in place here,” Rose wrote in an email. “But we are updating some policies and information to be fully consistent with the SUNY-wide policies.”
These standards include a bill of rights for survivors, workshops for leaders of student organizations and the adoption of a system-wide definition of consent. According to the new policy, consent is a clear, unambiguous and voluntary agreement between the participants to engage in specific sexual activity.
This month, SUNY will be training University and state police on SUNY campuses on security plans and victim sensitivity. They will also be training SUNY attorneys and college administrators on how to address sexual violence. All SUNY campuses will also be implementing a system-wide Confidentiality and Reporting Protocol, which encourages immediate reporting of acts of sexual assault and outlines how campuses should efficiently address allegations of sexual assault.
All staff in the Division of Student Affairs were trained this past summer on handling reports of sexual violence. According to Rose, students will begin to see posters in campus residence halls and other locations over the next couple of weeks as BU raises awareness of the new policies.
Each year, the Office of Student Conduct presents code of conduct revisions to the BU council. This year, the code of conduct will be adopting the changes put in place by the new SUNY policy.
Rebecca Wolf, a freshman majoring in psychology, said she has recognized BU’s efforts to take steps in the right direction to combat sexual assault.
“At orientation this summer we had a very informative presentation on the topic, and I think it really taught the incoming freshman class valuable lessons,” Wolf said. “The University’s proactive implementation of the policy really shows its devotion to keeping new and current students safe and comfortable here at Binghamton.”
The presentation educated students on how to handle possibly uncomfortable situations, and told students where they could seek help in reporting sexual assault.
According to Rose, beginning next year the University will provide training to leaders of student organizations and clubs. In addition, Interpersonal Violence Prevention (IVP) offers a list of preventative services to students.
President Harvey Stenger assured all students that BU will continue to update its policies in order to promote the safety and well-being of everyone at the school.
“The safety of our students has been and always will be my highest priority,” Stenger wrote in an email. “I am grateful that we have great staff and students who have worked hard on our policies and procedures to make them responsive to our campus’ needs.”