September 29, 2015

Higher ed leaders work to educate members on new misconduct law

Author: Darryl McGrath
Source: NYSUT Communications

As New York’s colleges and universities prepare to implement the state’s new law governing the reporting of sexual misconduct on college campuses, NYSUT is working to educate its members about the law.

Members of NYSUT’s Higher Education Policy Council heard a presentation on the new law by Council Chair Roberta Elins, president of United College Employees of FIT, at the council’s weekend meeting. Among the issues members discussed: implications of the law for NYSUT members and questions about costs and administration — not all of which can be answered at this early stage.

All agreed that individual NYSUT affiliates and locals should make sure their members understand the law, whether or not their campus administrations conduct training and workshops on it.

“I think it’s incumbent on us to educate our members about their rights,” said UUP Secretary Eileen Landy.

The law does include a provision that, if the accused is an employee of the college or university, that the employer must follow the disciplinary language of the employee’s collective bargaining agreement, as well as disciplinary rules of the institution.

The law, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in July, tightens the requirements for how public and private colleges and universities report sexual misconduct on campus. Higher education institutions must be incompliance with the law by Oct. 5. The law has frequently been cited as the “affirmative consent” or “yes means yes” law for its requirement that, among other things, campuses adopt a statewide uniform definition of knowing, voluntary and mutual consent among all participants to engage in sexual activity.

The law followed a number of high-profile cases around the country in which victims and advocates called into question the response of campuses to accusations of sexual assault and misconduct.