Pelosi: End ‘scourge’ of sexual assaults on college campuses

Greg Nash

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday called on government at all levels to combat the “scourge” of sexual assault on college campuses.

Appearing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the House minority leader praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) push for new standards applied to all state campuses as a “bold and vital action” that should be mirrored nationwide.

“This idea against violence against women is something that has to be put to rest wherever it occurs,” Pelosi said. “We have to attack this problem on campus and in the Congress.”

{mosads}Launched in January, Cuomo’s proposal would establish a universal standard of affirmative consent; adopt a statewide amnesty policy to encourage victims to report incidents without fear of reprisal; and install new training requirements for campus staff and students. 

Although the State University of New York has already adopted those policies, Cuomo’s plan would expand them to all of New York’s colleges and universities, public and private.

Cuomo said the new standards are needed because college administrators too often sweep sexual assault cases under the rug for fear that the bad press would scare away future students. 

“They don’t want it reported. … It’s bad for business; it’s bad for recruitment,” Cuomo said Monday. 

“This is not a campus disciplinary issue,” he added. “It’s a police problem.”

Pelosi praised a California law, passed last year, that established similar standards for schools that receive public funding. But she suggested it didn’t go far enough, and she urged other states to heed the “drumbeat” created by Cuomo’s proposal.

“That is a tremendous model for the nation,” she said. “It is of personal and national significance.”

In a report released in December, the Department of Justice found that 80 percent of student sexual assaults were never reported to the police, and just 16 percent of student victims received crisis services.

Last year, President Obama addressed the issue by adopting the “Not Alone” initiative designed to prevent campus sexual assaults and provide victims with tools to seek crisis services and file complaints against schools that ignore the problem.

Characterizing campus sexual assault as “an epidemic,” Pelosi said those initiatives are a good start, but much more needs to be done. 

“This is all great, but it is not a substitute for what the governor is doing here, which is to put into law — to put into law — this very strong standard to apply to all college students in the state of New York,” she said.

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