Stony Brook University has enacted a number of sexual harassment policies after nearly twenty “forcible sexual offenses” were reported on campus in 2012. Despite the increase in policies designed to protect students, many on campus are more confused than ever.
New York attorneys believe the problem lies in the quantity and verbiage of the various policies. Stony Brook has a number of possible procedures for assault and harassment charges. Additionally, multiple departments exist to handle complaints. The result of the proliferation of policies, departments and procedures has been a student body that is largely confused as to where to go when they believe they have been a victim of sexual harassment or assault.
Furthermore, there is no definitive punishment in sexual harassment and assault cases. The university’s Student Conduct Code clearly states the consequence for sexual harassment is suspension. The Director Of University Community Standards is quick to point out that the consequences listed under “Disciplinary Sanctions” refer to all breaks in student conduct and are not specific to sexually based issues. These disciplinary actions can include everything from a written warning to expulsion. It remains unclear which sanctions are applied to which instances of sexual harassment.
Lastly, a number of changes in University personnel have further the sense of confusion. Many department heads can do no more than oversee procedures. They cannot investigate complaints. It is outside their jurisdiction.
The majority of students at the University are either completely unaware of the policies, or have nothing more than a vague notion of what the protocol is. New York City attorneys cite this as a significant factor in the underreporting of sexual harassment and assault on college campus. There is no denying that Stony Brook University has made great strides towards eradicating sexual assaults on campus, but it is evident that more work is needed.
The Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handles a multitude of cases that involve sexual harassment in Manhattan and the greater New York City area. For further information, please feel free to call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation or email at