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Campus sexual assault bill gains agreement in Albany (Updates)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks about his Enough

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks about his Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses. He was at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan on May 11, 2015. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

ALBANY - (Updates with comment)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo struck a deal Tuesday with legislative leaders to make his Enough is Enough bill a law to crack down on sexual assaults on college campuses.

The measure will make it easier for students to report sexual assaults on campuses and will "combat and root out sexual assault so our college campuses are safe learning environments for all students," said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).

The bill will further define the vague definition of "consent" under law when it comes to sexual assault. The measure will define consent as a "knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity."

Students who report a sexual assault will have amnesty against any violations of campus drug or alcohol policies.

The measure will also create a "sexual assault victims unit" within the state police with advanced training to respond to sexual assaults and working with campus police or local police. First responders such as paramedics will also be required to notify the victim of sexual violence of their right to help from law enforcements agencies rather than campus police.

In addition, the state will provide $10 million for rape crisis centers, the new state police unit, and to work with pubic and private colleges and universities.

State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has pushed the bill statewide. It mirrors a program already offered at SUNY's 64 campuses which she calls a success.

"Everyone has worked long and hard on this new legislation," said Laura L. Anglin, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities that represents more than 100 nonpublic colleges.

"Countless experts from private, not-for-profit colleges and universities have consulted with the Executive Chamber and the Legislature with the singular goal of drafting legislation that would be balanced, appropriate and helpful for students and campuses," Anglin said. "Wherever it occurs, sexual assault is a crime, and our campuses are fully committed to educating the women and men enrolled on our campuses about healthy relationships."

Cuomo said: "As the governor, and as a father, I am proud that with this legislation New York will become a national leader in the fight against sexual assault on college campuses."

"This plan encourages victims to speak up and provides a uniform policy for handling accusations throughout all New York State colleges, as well as bolsters support services for victims of this heinous act," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).

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