May 11, 2015
Albany, NY

Video & Transcript: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Endorses Governor Cuomo's Enough is Enough Campaign

TOP Video & Transcript: House Democratic Leader...

Today, House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed Governor Cuomo's Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses while at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Democratic Leader Pelosi’s support reflects the increasing pressure felt across the country to end this growing epidemic and highlights the leadership role New York is taking in this fight.

VIDEO of Democratic Leader Pelosi and Governor Cuomo's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the remarks is available here.

A rush transcript of the Democratic Leader and Governor’s remarks is below:

Democratic Leader Pelosi: Good morning, everyone. Let us applaud Kathy Hochul for her wonderful leadership and her strong statement. Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Hochul, Madam President, that has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? And to Jessica Accardi, it is an honor for me to be here with each of you and with all of your guests here today and with my colleagues from the House of Representatives.

The Violence Against Women Act was mentioned and I want to come back to it for a moment Governor to put into context the challenges that we face. It took over 600 days of the Violence Against Women Act not being brought up but we took it to the public, we made the issue too hot to handle and finally they said they would bring it up. But the bill they wanted to bring up, Violence Against Women Act – we want to stop violence against women, unless you are an immigrant woman, an LGBT woman or a Native American woman. Can you believe that? Can you believe that? Of course we said no and under the leadership of Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee; Nydia Velazquez, they are fighting for immigrant women and so many of our other colleagues in the Congress were able to pass a bill that was ending violence against all women. I want to commend the Governor. What you’ve done in New York State is outstanding. It is a family tradition with him though, I want to acknowledge Maria Cuomo Cole for her work in terms of violence against women in the military, she has been such a leader in that regard. Thank you Maria.

This idea of violence against women is something that needs to be put to rest where ever it occurs, no matter what the orientation is of a woman and that is why today is so special. I want to commend the Governor for his leadership. The Department of Justice says that 1 in 5 women is sexual assaulted while in college. 1 in 5 women, 40% of college sexual assault survivors fear reprisal by the perpetrator. That is unacceptable; enough is enough.

This is an epidemic in some ways and that is why we are also grateful to Governor Cuomo for his strong leadership and the bold action to protect New York’s college students. Affirmative consent is a vital standard to adopt in combatting the scourge of college campus sexual assaults. My own state of California - I am very proud, that we were to adopt – an early adopter of the Yes Mean Yes legislation, but New York has done us one better. Our California initiative and legislation was just for schools that received funding from the state. The Governor has protected every student in the state of New York, regardless of [inaudible]. That is a very major accomplishment; that is a tremendous model for the nation. It is of personal and national significance. Thank you Governor Cuomo for your great leadership. And that is an applause line.

I am also proud of the Obama Administration for continuing to take strong action to combat sexual assault on college campuses. Since the beginning of last year, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, called Not Alone Initiative, has provided resources to students, to schools and to advocates on the front lines of this fight;

In partnership with hundreds of schools, sports organizations and companies, the Task Force It’s On Us, the responsibility, It’s On Us campaign has held over 600 events – nearly half on campuses to empower students to respond to and to prevent sexual assault. This is all great, but it is not a substitute for what the Governor is doing here, which is to put into law, to put into law this very strong standard, to apply to all college students in the state of New York.

We have to attack this problem on campus and in the Congress, and states like California and New York can create a drum beat across America and of course the New York drumbeat gets stronger with your other provision and I again thank Kathy Hochul for her leadership in traveling across New York to talk with students and listen to advocates and survivors trying to end this epidemic. How beautiful she spoke about looking into the eyes of a survivor, thank you again Governor Cuomo for taking this bold and vital action to confront campus sexual assault today.

It is really important for you - I know you see it here and sometimes we take for granted what has happened but you have to know how very bold the action New York State has taken is - an example, a model for the country. Now it’s my pleasure to introduce a very special guest, probably the person of the hour here. She is a junior at SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology, treasurer of the Fashion Institute of Technology Student Government and recently-elected treasurer of the statewide SUNY Student Assembly, Jessica Accardi.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you, thank you, and thank you. Jessica Accardi, isn’t she great? Let’s give her another round of applause. Well first, it is my pleasure to be back at FIT. I want you to know what a magnificent institution I believe this is and what a magnificent leader you have in Joyce Brown, let’s give her a round of applause. For those of you who are not in FIT it’s always an intimidating place for me to come; you feel like you’re being judged on your fashion ability and I am obviously fashion challenged as you can tell. I want you to know I made the best effort I could this morning. I wore a black suit because I always wear a black suit but I wore the fanciest tie that I had and if you notice it changes color depending on your perspective and I thought that was my fashion statement for the day so I hope it’s acceptable.

To our great Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, she’s been a great team member, she hit the ground running, let’s give her a round of applause. To my sister who’s here, Maria Cuomo, she was introduced as Mario Cuomo Cole, which is technically correct, Cole is her married name. I don’t acknowledge the married name until the 50th, the 50th wedding anniversary, I will acknowledge it. Maria Cuomo who’s been very active on this effort. Christine Quinn who’s been carrying this banner all over the state, let’s give her a round of applause. Dr. Howard Zucker our health commissioner who is here. Alexandra Pelosi, the Leader’s daughter and her husband on the same theory of first names matter. And last but not least, to our Leader who won a great award this morning, the Eleanor Roosevelt award, which she very well deserves. She is a national inspiration. For me it is always special to be in the Leader’s presence with my sister, Maria.

My father was a phenomenal fan of the Leader's for many, many years and they went back many, many years and whenever Nancy would come on the T.V. my father would quiet everyone down because he wanted to watch what the Leader was saying and he would have this great broad smile on his face and he would say the same thing every time she finished he would say, "Wow, isn’t she great?" And I say, "Wow, isn’t she great." Leader Nancy Pelosi, we're so proud of her. To our colleagues, our members of congress who are here today, thank you very much, Carolyn Maloney, Eddie Velasquez, Jerry Nadler, let’s give them a round of applause.

As you’ve heard were here to talk about sexual assault on campus but think of it this way if you can: sexual assault on campus is not really the illness, it’s not the problem, it’s a symptom of the illness. The problem, the illness, is that we are in a society that still discriminates against women and that still treats women unequally. Now that is a very powerful and dramatic statement when you think about it. That the governor of the state of New York, the state that started women’s suffrage, the state that is the progressive model for the country, could get up and make such a broad statement, but it is true, we treat women differently. That’s why we propose in this state a Women’s Equality Act, a 10-point Women’s Equality Act. Why do you need a 10-point Women’s Equality Act? Because we don’t treat women equally. If you want to solve a problem the first step is always admission of the problem and admitting the scope of the problem.

The evidence is all across the board and the evidence is damning. A woman will make $11,000 less per year in a similar position than a man. A woman will make on average $500,000 dollars less than a man. A woman is 32 times less likely to become a CEO than a man. A woman is five times more likely to become a victim of sexual harassment than a man, two times more likely to be a victim of lending discrimination, two times more likely to wind up living in poverty than a man. Those statistics are inarguable and the less power the women have, the worse it is.

Today were starting a multi-agency effort to help women who work in nail salons. Why? Because the women who work in nail salons tend not to have resources, they tend not to have power, they tend not to have lawyers with them. Sometimes they are of questionable legal status so they are afraid to go to the authorities to make a complaint and they are extorted and they are victimized. Many of them don’t even get paid the minimum wage and can’t do anything about it.

So it is all through society. And as it is immigrants who are working in nail salons it is young women on college campuses. That statistic, one out of five might be a victim of sexual assault, think about that, how damning. I’ll tell you what is worse: only 5% of rapes on college campuses are reported, 5%. Worse than that, 10% of perpetrators who are found guilty of sexual assault are permanently expelled. We are still covering this up. We are still unwilling to admit this. We are still in a state of denial like we are with domestic violence, like we are with so many other issues. We don’t want to address the problem that we victimize women in our society. And the sexual assaults are a perfect manifestation of that.

You heard the Lieutenant governor go through the bill but the most important point to me is, this is not a campus disciplinary issue. Right now it’s treated by and large as a campus disciplinary issue, meaning what? Meaning when a woman makes a complaint and the campus security responds, and the campus security reports it to an academic committee for dissolution. No, it’s not a violation of the campus rules, it’s not a violation of campus policy, and it’s not that it violated the campus motto, it is a crime and it has to be treated that way.

All of the incentive for the campus is what? Keep it quiet. Keep it quiet, make it go away. Why are only 5% reported? Because from the campus' interests, they don’t want it reported. They don’t want a headline in the newspaper that says ACME campus had another rape. That’s bad for business; it’s bad for recruitment, so make it go away. They interview woman and then they interview the man and they come back and they say, there’s two sides here. There’s two sides. And he says this, and he says you were drinking, and he says, you know, you have a reputation and he says you said, and the woman said, you know what, maybe we let this go away. Maybe that is the easiest path. That’s why only 5% are reported. And what happens? She feels guilty, rather than feeling like the victim, which is what she was. And the perpetrator lives to do it another day and that’s why the recidivism rates are as high as they are.

So first, change our orientation. Change the culture, change the mindset. It is not a campus problem. It’s not. It’s a police problem. And as soon as it happens in this bill, you hand that woman a card like she gets the Miranda Rights, you hand that woman a card that says you have the right to contact the police, town, county. We’re putting together a special unit in the State Police. Here’s the State Police hotline, call the police, treat it like a criminal justice matter. Your rights were violated, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not going to let the campuses cover it up anymore. You have the right to go to the police, make your case, if that person was guilty, get them out, and make them pay the crime so it won’t happen again. That’s what this law says.

Affirmative consent, because yes is yes, as they say in California. The answer has to be yes. The answer isn't, “well she didn’t say no, I didn’t hear her say no,” it is the question of affirmative consent and then providing amnesty so people will actually come forward. This will be the toughest law in the nation and I am proud of that. Why? Because number one, we will protect our students in this state better than any other state has ever protected their students. I don’t care if you go to a SUNY school. SUNY already adopted this policy. Thank you Dr. Brown, thank you to SUNY. But it will apply to every school in this state one uniform standard. It doesn’t make a difference if you visit and it will be the strongest in the nation and we will do it.

And then, Leader Pelosi has a great advantage. Why? Because as she’s making the case for this bill, in Congress and around the country, she doesn’t have to argue it in the abstract – “wouldn’t it be nice if we could, maybe we propose.” She could say, “This has been done. They did this in the State of New York, this is possible. Follow New York.” That’s what New York has always done so brilliantly. When you look back at our history, we were always the first. We were always the first to have a more progressive vision, a more fair vision, and we made it happen. My father used to say, God rest his soul, New York leads by example. Watch what we do, not what we say. Follow our actions.

We did it on marriage equality, where we stepped up and we said we’re not going to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation; we are going to let everyone marry. We did it when it came to guns and everyone said, “Oh no, you can’t do gun control.” We did gun control – the best law in the United States. We’re going to do it with fair wages for fast food workers who have been exploited long enough and we are going to do it on this issue of sexual assault, protecting women, recognizing the inequality, recognizing the injustice and saying women are totally equal to men and we are going to stop it and we are going to stop it here. The victimization will stop because it’s not who we are, it’s not what we believe, it’s not what we represent, and watch New York do it.

Thank you and God bless you.

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Contact the Governor's Press Office

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