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Massive changes planned at SUNY dealing with harassment

In one of the most comprehensive, system-wide agreements in the history of the Department of Education, management promised to deal more effectively with sexual harassment and assault cases at State University Systems in New York. The changes come following a sweeping federal review that determined many of the campuses experienced hostile environments rift with sexual harassment.

Including community colleges, the state university system is the largest public educational system in the nation. New ordinances have been instigated guaranteeing a law enforcement official at each campus, which will put a more prompt mechanism in place to investigate incidents, as well as targeting problems in-house. The regulations are in compliance with Title IX, the federal law that outlaws sexual discrimination in education.

One civil rights spokesperson commended the university system for pioneering such sweeping change, adding it now enables students across multiple campuses to attend class in a safe environment free from violence and harassment.

Complaints of sexual harassment have been reported at several campuses, including Buffalo, Albany and New Paltz. The investigation has been ongoing since December of 2010.

Following an investigation of the civil rights office regarding about 150 complaints of sexual harassment, it was determined that such incidents created a hostile environment which impeded learning and living a healthy, safe student lifestyle. In many cases, complaints did not receive follow-through or proper attention, and victims were not permitted to attend equitable hearings to provide witnesses or evidence. It is expected that this reform places the university system in a position to be a national model for compliance and training under federal laws.

Advocate groups have expressed satisfaction at the initiation of the new system, which will positively affect thousands of students previously subjected to a hostile sexual environment. The new regulations will allow them to attend school free from sexual harassment and abuse. It is a welcome change holding positive promise for the future.

capitalnewyork.com, "SUNY will institute new system for handling sexual harassment cases" Jessica Bakeman, Nov. 01, 2013

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