How desperate is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to foist state oversight onto the sex lives of every single college student in the state of New York?
Desperate enough to rope in (of all people) Lady Gaga to be his co-writer on an op-ed in Billboard that beats the drum one more time over that campus "epidemic of sexual violence," one of Cuomo's pet op-ed phrases as he tries to persuade the New York legislature to extend an "affirmative consent" policy to cover private colleges in the state. New York's public campuses already live under an "affirmative consent" regime, which turns every sexual or even semi-sexual encounter (such as a kiss or a hug or a held hand) into rape unless there is a "clear, unambigious and voluntary agreement" with the other party.
Last year, the Governor’s office asked the state’s public university system to step up on this issue. They did. 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.
Cuomo has just a little over a week to ram his bill through before the New York legislature adjourns on June 17. And Gaga needs a career-booster shot after the massive flop of her over-hyped ARTPOP album in 2014. Perhaps repositioning herself as New York's sexual assault spokeswoman (Emma Sulkowicz seems unavailable) will do the trick. (To be fair, Gaga has alleged that a music producer assaulted her when she was 19.)
But as New York Daily News columnist Bill Hammond pointed out in May, Cuomo's "epidemic" seems to be going the way of the Ebola virus:
In fact — according to 18 years’ worth of comprehensive statistics gathered by the U.S. Justice Department — college women are 19% less likely to be assaulted than non-students in the same age range. And the rate for both groups — as for the general population — has been thankfully trending downward in this era of heightened awareness and lower crime.
Cuomo has also been known to assert that one in five women students will be victimized, a head-turning and widely quoted figure that originated from a one-time survey of two campuses.
The Justice Department’s more credible estimate of the assault rate for college women — based on nationwide surveys taken every year — is 6.1 out of 1,000, or less than 1%. That’s still too high, of course, but a far cry from one in five.
Furthermore, Hammond points out that the wording of Cuomo's proposed new law " parts significantly from the definition of rape and sexual assault in the state’s criminal code. In effect, Cuomo is establishing a two-tiered system, with one law for college students and another for everyone else."
But campus-assault hysteria seems to run in the Cuomo family. Cumo's sister, Maria Cuomo Cole, is co-producer of The Hunting Ground, the campus-rape "documentary" that even liberal Slate says "traffics in alarmist statistics and terrifying assertions."