York College Public Safety Department has identified a suspect in connection with a sexual assault case that was reported in early January in the College’s library.
The victim told York College Public Safety Department that the incident took place Jan. 9 approximately 3 p.m. The student reported that while she was sitting in the lower level of the college library, she was approached by the unknown male. After a brief discussion, he forcibly touched her. .
York College Public Safety Department said they have identified an alleged suspect who was held for questioning by officials. The department claimed that administrative measures have been initiated in accordance with the institution’s policies and procedures relating to allegations of misconduct.
The department said they are taking additional steps to prevent similar acts of misconduct in the future to ensure a safe and secure environment for members of the college community and guests.
Officials from the college’s Public Safety department, following federal guidelines for the first time in recent history, issued an alert to all students and staff but declined to comment beyond that.
In mid-January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation called the “yes means yes” law. If enacted, the law would expand on a policy implemented in the State University system last year to apply to all of New York’s public and private colleges. It would require women to give consent before any sexual activity. Cuomo is confident that the bill would pass state legislature, “go nationwide,” and help decrease the number of unreported sexual assaults in in college institutions.
The Jeanne Clery Act, formally known as the Campus Security Act, requires colleges and universities to disclose certain timely and annual information about campus crime and security policies. This includes campus crime statistics and security policy statements including sexual assaults. The bill was intended to ensure basic victims’ rights, the law enforcement authority of campus police and establish a place where students can report crimes and be heard. The act was enacted and signed into law in 1990 as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act.
According to the Department of Education, in 2013 there were 365 cases of forcible sex offences reported by campuses in New York State, 72 of which were in NYC.
With events leading up to President Obama discussing his plans about making college more affordable, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged the White House and Congress to commence on making college campuses safer as well. Gillibrand spoke about the bipartisan legislation that she introduced last fall, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which was reintroduced to Congress. Gillibrand invited Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who was sexually assaulted on campus, to attend the President’s state of the union address as her guest. Last April, Sulkowicz joined Gillibrand in New York City to share her story with the public and to urge congress to fight the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses.
Many York College students have been shocked to learn about recent allegations that the college has not adequately informed the campus community about reports of sexual assault cases on campus.
“Administration tries to keep the matter hidden, I think it shouldn’t be this way, everyone deserves fair treatment and things like this should not be kept hidden,” said senior Andrae Sripal.
In the past, with the singular exception of a mugging in the bathroom across the hall from the public safety office, the college failed to send out any information about allegations of sexual or other violent assaults on campus as required by federal law. The email blast after the January incident in the library marked the first such occasion involving a sexual assault allegation.