SUNY students react to Gov. Cuomo’s new policy on sexual assaults

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK (PIX11) -- A day after Governor Cuomo ordered the State University of New York to overhaul the way it prevents and responds to sexual assaults on its 64 campuses, students are beginning to process what it all means.

Redefining consent is the centerpiece of the new system-wide uniform set of practices SUNY colleges must follow to combat the problem.

SUNY is taking its cue from the "yes is yes" language adopted by California last month.

SUNY's definition of consent now reads, in part: "Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in sexual activity."

"I think it makes things much more clear cut, and less ambiguous, and hopefully it will help students that are victims be able to speak out," said SUNY Purchase student Katherine Coleman.

"I feel like there's such an emphasis that women are ultimately the ones who can be a victim, but just as well, men can be affected," said Phillip Bassell, a senior at Purchase College.

“But the majority of these attacks happen to women,” Purchase sophomore Derick Ansah pointed out.

Excluding its 2-year community colleges, SUNY reported 238 sexual assault complaints during the 2013-14 academic year.

Cuomo's proposal also includes improved training of campus police, a victims’ bill of rights and immunity for drug, alcohol and other code of conduct violations for students reporting incidents of sexual violence.

SUNY's board has 60 days to put the changes into effect