Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lady Gaga, Andrew Cuomo Pen Op-Ed on College Sexual Assault

Lady Gaga, Andrew Cuomo Pen Op-Ed on College Sexual Assault:

Lady Gaga and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have co-written an op-ed for Billboard urging passage of the proposed "Enough Is Enough" bill, which has already helped combat sexual assault on public college campuses.

In February, Cuomo introduced legislation on the bill and launched the "Enough Is Enough" campaign, which proposes "statewide definition of affirmative consent," a "statewide amnesty policy" and a "sexual violence victim and survivor bill of rights." (Close to 5,000 forcible sex offenses were reported by colleges in 2012 alone, according to a U.S. Department of Education report listed on the campaign site.)

"Last year, the Governor's office asked the state's public university system to step up on this issue. They did," Gaga and Cuomo write in their op-ed, which breaks down the shocking statistics of rapes and sexual assaults plaguing college campuses in New York and around the country. "Now, every public college student in New York is protected by a strong policy against sexual assault. But without changing New York's laws, private colleges don’t have to live up to the same standard. That's why the state legislature must pass the proposed bill. Without it, students at private institutions are more likely to be left at risk."

The issue hits close to home for Gaga, who told Howard Stern last year that, at age 19, she was a victim of sexual assault by a producer two decades her senior. (She channeled her emotions from the ordeal into "Swine," a track from her 2013 LP, Artpop.) Gaga also contributed a song about the college sexual assault epidemic, "Till It Happens to You," to The Hunting Ground, a documentary about the subject from Kirby Dick.

"It is a shocking reality that many in academia, government, and society in general still refuse to acknowledge [the epidemic]," the op-ed continues. "Today, too many college students experience sexual assault, too few of the assailants are prosecuted, and too often the survivors lack the resources they need to recover. In New York, fewer than five percent of rapes that occur on college campuses are reported to law enforcement and just 16 percent of survivors receive support from a victim services agency."

Gaga and Cuomo reference a 2010 investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, which "found that just a quarter of the individuals responsible for sexual assault were permanently removed from campus – and in some cases, that figure was as low as 10 percent."

The authors end with a plea to pass the bill. "We have a responsibility to the young men and women of this country to stand up against sexual violence everywhere," they write. "Together, we must create the scaffolding necessary to foster the mental, emotional and physical health of all young people."

For the full letter, visit Billboard.com.

Original enclosures: