With just over one week left for New York state lawmakers to act before the end of this year’s legislative session on June 17, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has joined forces with Lady Gaga and co-written an op-ed, given exclusively to Billboard, pledging support for his comprehensive sexual assault policy at the state’s public college campuses.
Cuomo introduced legislation in February to make this policy apply to all of New York’s campuses, including private universities, and launched the Enough Is Enough campaign in support of the bill. Gaga revealed in a December 2014 interview with Howard Stern that she was a victim of sexual assault by a producer roughly 20 years her senior when she was 19 and has become vocal on the issue. (The song “Swine” from her ARTPOP album was inspired by the ordeal.) Cuomo has begun screening Hunting Ground, a documentary about the sexual-assault epidemic on college campuses that was written and directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick (The Invisible War) and features a new Gaga song on the subject – “Till it Happens to You” – in the film. Here are their words.
Every fall, young men and women head off to colleges across the country, dreaming of bright futures and the experience of a lifetime. They’ve worked hard for the chance to become a part of their new campuses, and they set out full of hope and excitement.
Unfortunately, for thousands of these students that dream turns into a nightmare because of the unacceptable epidemic of sexual violence that is currently plaguing colleges and universities. It is a shocking reality that many in academia, government, and society in general still refuse to acknowledge.
We all have a responsibility to make sure that the strongest possible laws are in place to safeguard our students. Thankfully, New York has an opportunity to stand up for its students and take the critical steps toward facing this crisis head on. The bill currently before the New York State legislature will address the issue of sexual violence on college campuses, giving the state the nation’s strongest laws to target campus sexual assault. This is a campaign that will protect students, and it’s exactly what we need.
Today, too many college students experience sexual assault, too few of the assailants are prosecuted, and too often the survivors lack the resources they need to recover. In New York, fewer than five percent of rapes that occur on college campuses are reported to law enforcement and just 16 percent of survivors receive support from a victim services agency.
Read more: Billboard
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