SUNY backs bill combating campus sexual assaults

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White House pushes campuses to improve handling of rape cases

NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s public university system is the first to support a bipartisan federal effort that would strengthen colleges and universities’ assistance for sexual assault victims while establishing penalties for non-compliance.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and State University of New York officials are set to announce SUNY’s support Wednesday in Manhattan.

The New York Democrat is a primary backer of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.

The bill creates new standards for training and calls for an anonymous annual survey of students to provide a full accounting of campus sexual assaults at colleges and universities.

College campuses reported nearly 5,000 forcible sex offenses in 2012. New York colleges reported 365 of them.

SUNY is the largest university system in the U.S. with nearly a half-million students at more than 60 campuses.

One of the system’s campuses, Binghamton University, was among 55 institutions of higher education — four of them in New York — named in an unprecedented federal investigation into sexual abuse on campus earlier this year.

The other NY institutions are Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in the Finger Lakes region, and Sarah Lawrence College, a predominantly female college in the New York City suburbs.

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