Governor Joined by House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie at Bill Signing
This afternoon, Governor Cuomo signed his “Enough is Enough” legislation to combat sexual assault on college and university campuses statewide while at New York University School of Law. The new law requires all colleges to adopt a set of comprehensive procedures and guidelines, including a uniform definition of affirmative consent, a statewide amnesty policy, and expanded access to law enforcement to ensure the safety of all students attending colleges in New York State.
VIDEO of Governor Cuomo and Leader Pelosi’s remarks, as well as the Governor’s bill signing, are available on YouTube here and in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of their remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the bill signing are available on the Governor’s Flickr page here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is included below:
Thank you very much. Well this is really a great day, and for those of us who are in government, or follow government, sometimes you question – are you really getting something done? Is it worth all the aggravation? A day like today, you see the power of government actually change the way society lives and how we treat one another.
First to NYU, and to President Sexton, we thank them very much for their hospitality to be here. To Senator John Flanagan, we had a very interesting legislative session this session. It was different than most. It could have been a mini-series, this legislative session. We started with one set of legislative leaders on the Democratic and the Republican side, the Senate and the Assembly, and we ended with a different set of legislative leaders. And they changed at different times through the session, so it was really sort of a rollercoaster of a session. And we dealt with a lot of difficult issues but at the end of the day it was actually an extraordinary session for getting things done for the State of New York. That is what it is all about at the end of the day. Did government make life better for people? Did government accomplish things that make this state a better state? And we did. For that we owe thanks to both the Democratic Assembly and the Republican Senate because if those two don’t say yes, then you have nothing. And they both did on this bill. Let’s give them a round of applause today.
Let me say something about Senate Leader John Flanagan on this issue. We showed a movie in Albany called, “The Hunting Ground” which is an extraordinary documentary that really publicized this issue, and had survivors on this documentary talking about their story, and showed how the institutions were slow to respond, and some really offensive mindsets of young men who are on these college campuses and how they treated women. After the movie, Senator Flanagan said to me, “You know this is a complicated bill, and there’s a reason why this hasn’t happened.” As he just said to you, there are privacy issues, intimacy issues, etc. He said, “But I give you my word, we are going to figure out how to make this happen, because this should happen for my daughter, for your daughter, for your sisters, for our sisters. This bill has to pass. New York has to lead the way.” And he was true to his word at the end of the day this bill passed, and I want to publicly thank him. Senator John Flanagan.
To Assembly member Deborah Glick, who carried this on the Assembly side, I said to Leader Pelosi when we were backstage, I said Deborah Glick is probably the original women’s crusader on so many progressive issues, we all look to her. Let’s give her a round of applause, Assembly member Deborah Glick.
As you heard from the Senator, the Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was all over the state building support. She did a fantastic job. Let’s give her a round of applause.
To Superintendent Joseph D’Amico of the State Police, let’s give him a round of applause.
And to our special guest who is here today, who is a really democratic superstar, more than a democratic superstar, she’s a federal official who gives hope, I think, on both sides of the aisle. She’s a special person to me. She’s a special person to the Cuomo’s. We lost my father this year in January and I’ve been thinking a lot about him as we went through the session and we went through all this tumult. And I kept wondering what would he be thinking, what would he be doing now? On the way here today, thinking that Democratic Leader Pelosi was going to be here, my father had a special relationship with Pelosi.
My father was a very tough critic of other elected officials. He held himself to a very high standard and he could be highly critical. He had very few elected officials who he said nice things about, let’s just say that. Publicly he never said anything bad about most of them. Privately, though, was a different story. But he had a couple of heroes.
You would go to his apartment on the East Side, and we would go over to his apartment on Sundays and we’d have the whole family there, and all the kids would be there, so there would be 25 people stuck in this little apartment. Young kids screaming, running around. And he’d be on the couch watching CSPAN, because he was a CSPAN junkie, my father. And Congressman Rangel would come on CSPAN, and he loved Congressman Rangel, and he would love to watch Congressman Rangel, and they went way back. These were two of the great warriors who I watched as a young man, and I learned from his mentors, and they were on the same side, they’d be on different sides, but they were great warriors. He would say about Congressman Rangel, “He always calls them the way he sees them, Charlie. He always calls them the way he sees them.” And that is true.
And when democratic leader Pelosi would come on the CSPAN screen everyone had to be quiet. “Shhhh Nancy’s on.” And you would have to quiet down all the kids and everyone would have to sit there and be quiet. And four year olds would have to be quiet because my father had such a profound respect and such an affection for Congresswoman Pelosi and what she has accomplished for this country and for women in her role of leadership. What she accomplished for us here, coming to stand with us when we announce this campus sexual assault bill, and she came here to bring attention to it because she said, at that time if you can get it done in New York, boy that’ll be a great boost getting it done nationwide. She left Washington, she came up here to stand with us on the introduction, let’s give her a New York welcome, Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi.
Let me make a couple of comments before she comes up. Today is a very important day. Why? Because of the statement we are making. And the statement is a very simple, clear, bold statement. And the statement is – the State of New York acknowledges that we still discriminate against women. Now that is a damning commentary when you think about it. And it’s a very simple statement to make, but it’s also very controversial to make. How can you say that we still discriminate against women, in New York , in 2015? Because we do. That’s why. Because sexism is alive and well. And discrimination is alive and well. And we discriminate against women in housing, and in lending, and employment. Women are 32 times less likely to be a CEO than a man. Women on average earn $11,000 less for a similar position than a man. They are twice as likely to wind up living in poverty. We discriminate against women and that’s what the Women’s Equality Act was all about. And that was the expression. Women’s Equality Act because women have not achieved full equality. And that’s the statement we are making. The corollary to that statement is it’s even worse in power relationships between men and women.
We have a crisis in domestic violence. We don’t want to acknowledge it. We are uncomfortable talking about it. But we have a frequency of domestic violence that is shameful, and lack of acknowledgement and lack of accepting responsibility, and lack of solution. We have more fast food restaurants and more pet shelters than we have domestic violence shelters. Why? Because we are uncomfortable with the admission.
I have a very simple philosophy: you will never solve a problem you are unwilling to admit. Denial is not a life strategy. And if you do not acknowledge the problem you are going to live with it. And why is there still discrimination against women? Because we let it go on too long. Why is domestic violence still a problem? Because we let it go on too long. Why is this sexual assault on college campuses such a problem? Because we let it go on too long. Because we didn’t acknowledge it, we were ashamed of it.
One out of five young women who go to a college can expect to be a victim of sexual assault. One out of five women, according to Washington Post and Kaiser Foundation. Just think about that. I have three daughters who are going to be in college next year. One out of five will be a victim of sexual assault. Only five percent are prosecuted or investigated by law enforcement. Five percent. Only fifteen percent go to a crisis center for counseling and help. Why? Because the problem is compounded by academic institutions that want to protect themselves and it is not in their interest to publicize the situation.
Universities spend a lot of money developing their brand and their advertising and they are trying to attract people to come to their university and it is very competitive. They don’t want a story in the newspaper that says students at the university were raped at a dorm party. They don’t want that. I believe they have been unintentionally complicit in cloaking this problem and keeping this problem quiet.
And all too often, and you’ll hear this from survivors all across the country: they went to the school administration; the school administration wants to handle it as a school administrative matter. They send them to a panel where they talk to the professor, they talk to the young man, hear the two sides to the story – do you really want to do this? It is going to be messy. There’s reputational damage and that is why only five percent wind up going to law enforcement. That’s why only fifteen percent wind up going to crisis centers. That’s why out of one out of five children. And going to college and being a victim, when was the last time you saw a story in the newspaper of a rape? Or of a sexual assault? How could it have that frequency and have nobody know about it? Because we cloaked it, we camouflaged it, and we didn’t want to admit it.
This law does the exact opposite. First, it says, “We admit the problem.” We are ashamed of it, but we admit the problem and that’s the first step towards solving the problem. And then we passed the law that is the most aggressive law in the United States of America. What it says is common sense. It says number one: affirmative consent – the other person has to say “yes.” They have to say “yes.” It’s yes on both sides.
Second, if there is a victim of a sexual assault or alleged sexual assault, that victim has rights like the Miranda Rights. You know how we have Miranda Rights before your arrested? In this case, every school official is going to read a victim of a sexual assault a set of rights. They have a right to a counselor, they have a right to have it investigated by campus police, or they have the right to go to law enforcement right now. Why is State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico here? And what do you see when you look at him? You see a handsome face? You see a funny hat – I know that. What else do you see? Well first, by the way, you see the law enforcement agency that was the spearhead of taking and finding two escapees from Dannemora State Prison and returning them to justice. But then what you also see is a symbol that says “assault and rape are crimes.” They’re not just not nice, unethical, immoral – they are crimes. And if you commit a crime, or you assault or you rape someone in this state, it will be prosecuted and investigated as a crime, I promise you.
And then as Senator Flanagan and the Assemblymember mentioned, we also have funding for crisis centers and counseling so it is a full package. State Police will have special investigative personnel; crisis centers will be funded; schools are going to have to inform victims of their rights. It's no longer an academic matter and a woman isn't going to be made to feel guilty or complicit or fearful if she goes forward. She's going to have the right to counseling and an independent law enforcement agent from day one. I'm not going to allow schools to cover it up any more to protect their reputation. They allow young women to be victimized. Those days are over.
And as Senator Flanagan said, yes, this is why we do what we do. This is why Senators run for office and people run for the Assembly: to make life better, to help people. And that's what we're going to do. And I think when you do it in this state, you have a second opportunity to make an even more profound impact because, let me speak as an arrogant New Yorker now: When New York does something, people notice. I know there are a lot of states. And we love all of the states. We really do. But New York is special. When New York acts – and it's always been that way. When New York acts, people notice. We have always been the progressive capital, taking the first step, pushing the edge of the envelope. And then the other states look at New York; the other leaders look at New York and then the question becomes, "Why can't you do that?" We did it on gun control. We did it on marriage equality where we went first. We're going to do it right here today once again when the question will flip. And then every school that's not in New York – the question's going to be, "Why don't you agree to the same code? Why don't you protect your students the way they protect the students in New York? Governor of every state; legislator of every state – why don't you do this?" And Leader Pelosi can now go back in Washington and say, "This is a national issue. It should be addressed federally. It can be done. They did it in New York. Republican Senate. Democratic Assembly. They came together. They passed the bill. Use that as an example to protect women all across this nation."
Ladies and gentlemen, if there's one woman who can do it, it is Leader Nancy Pelosi, a progressive voice – a progressive champion. Someone we can all be proud of. I give you Congresswoman Leader Nancy Pelosi.