The 2 page support letter to the right and left of the page is from our first supporters in the struggle to gain a CUNY-wide Sexual Assault Policy, SAFER (Students Active for Ending Rape). The letter highlights necessary elements of a good sexual assault policy and the need for community input both within and outside of CUNY. Below is the text of the letter.
October 30, 2008
Dear Senior Vice Chancellor Schaffer and members of the Sexual Assault Policy Task Force:
Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reforming college sexual assault policies---the only nonprofit that focuses exclusively on this issue. Since our inception in 2000, SAFER has focused on helping students achieve positive changes to their school sexual assault policies and prevention programs. We specialize in helping students and staff work together to create effective, student-centered policies. Some of the schools we have worked with in the region include Pace University, New York University, Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Wesleyan University, Connecticut College, and Ithaca College.
SAFER is pleased that CUNY has started a process for developing a CUNY-wide sexual assault policy. We are especially pleased that this process involves students as members of the task force. As you proceed with the development of your new policy, we urge you to consider the following:
- Research suggests the most effective prevention programming focuses on challenging social norms and encouraging positive bystander intervention.
- A policy is only effective if students know about it; it must be well-publicized and consistently enforced.
- Prevention programs must be institutionalized by being included in the policy. Creating excellent prevention programs without making a commitment to continuing them (by mandating them in the policy) places those programs at the mercy of budget or personnel changes.
- Having students involved in the creation and implementation of a policy encourages students to accept the policy and abide by it.
CUNY is taking an important step in joining its peer institutions in creating a comprehensive sexual assault policy and related programs. We recognize that there are many issues to consider when creating a policy—Title IX, the Clery Act, budget and capacity concerns—but the benefits for your community of addressing the pervasive problem of sexual violence are worth the effort.
We understand that the taskforce is open to seeking expert legal advice from organizations that deal with the standards of the Clery Act and Title IX. We recommend Brett Sokolow, J.D. of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management.
Please find enclosed further information on creating an effective sexual assault policy. If you have questions about our work or how we can help you develop your new policy, please contact us at 347-689-3769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margaret Mikkelsen Executive Director
Jennifer Howard Chair, Board of Directors
CC Elischia Fludd Jerin Alam
* Organizations and individuals to endorse our cause (willing to sign a letter of support)
* Organizations and individuals to join Students for a Greater CUNY as a member
* A tech-savvy person that is good with website building
* Skilled writers to chronicle CUNY's progress for the students on blogs and through campus media
* Student leaders or organizations that will facilitate setting up 3 town hall meetings within the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn, so public opinions can be heard on the draft of the policy.