Governor Andrew Cuomo has demanded an overhaul of the sexual-assault guidelines for the State University of New York (SUNY).
Cuomo announced the plan, which will go into effect in the next two months, at a news conference last week, adding that he hopes the change will lead to a statewide law.
According to the New York Times’s Ariel Kaminer, Cuomo made the decision after reading “statistics on how many college women are victimized and how many do not report the assaults.”
While Cuomo argues that the university’s sexual-assault guidelines are lackluster enough to warrant a complete overhaul, SUNY victimization statistics are not substantial. The school’s total enrollment is 459,550, a figure equal to more than 2 percent of the Empire State’s total population. More than half of SUNY students, 54 percent, are women. Yet only 238 sexual assault complaints were reported on SUNY’s campuses in the 2013–14 academic year.
The new SUNY rules will attempt to make ambiguous situations unambiguous, which as Lena Dunham has recently demonstrated, is next to impossible. The text of the new rules introduces a confusing maze of lexical doublethink. According to the New York Times, with the new rules, “only a yes will mean yes,” but the actual text is not that clear. “Consent is clear, knowing, and voluntary,” the new SUNY rules will allegedly say, “Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent.” And then, in the next sentence, “Consent need not be verbal, but it must be unambiguous and mutual.”
Linda Fairstein, a crime novelist and infamous sex-crimes prosecutor, will be brought on as a special advisor to SUNY as it undergoes these changes. One of Fairstein’s most famous cases was the “Central Park jogger” case, which ended in convictions of five juvenile males. However, all five convictions were vacated in 2002, amid claims that prosecutors had extracted false confessions. In September the city of New York granted each of the five between $7 million and $12 million for the years they spent in prison.
Despite the common trope of the Left, of not having the government “in my vagina,” often heard at rallies in front of the Supreme Court or seen on posters held by those who feel strongly about Planned Parenthood, the Democrats don’t seem to mind having the government in the bedroom to regulate sexual activity. “You can’t say, ‘She said yes last time,’ ‘We used to be involved,’ ‘She said yes to one thing,’” Kaminer said, “That’s not enough. You have to consent for every individual act.”
The 63 individual SUNY colleges currently have their own guidelines for sexual-assault prevention, but Cuomo insisted on the overhaul so that the guidelines would be uniform throughout the system. “A woman’s consent in Oswego should be a woman’s consent in Buffalo should be a woman’s consent in Albany,” Cuomo said. It is unclear how uniform regulations, rather than curtailment of the rampant drinking and drug use that college officials pretend doesn’t happen, will make women feel safe on campus.
Kaminer said that the new rules are “more appealing than the old no-means-no standard” because “it conceives of women as equal sexual actors instead of as people who only have the option to be silent or to say no.”
“It’s sexier,” Kaminer said. Because there’s nothing sexier than Andrew Cuomo in the bedroom.
— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.