New York State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, a self-proclaimed champion of the #MeTOO movement has dug his own demise amid his imminent resignation, taking effect on August 24, 2021. This resignation stems from a year of consistent allegations of sexual misconduct from about a dozen former female staff members. How can a “champion” of women’s rights become the complete opposite? The answer is simple: Unabashed hypocrisy.
In August 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that would “eliminate categorical restrictions that mandated sexual harassment claims to be ‘Severe or Pervasive’ in order for legal action to be taken.” That way, perpetrators are held accountable and employees seek justice in due time, granted that the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims has extended from one year to three years. The Governor’s office cited that, “this legislation enacts sweeping new workplace harassment protections, fulfilling a key component of Governor Cuomo’s 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda, mandating that all non-disclosure agreements allow employees to file a complaint of harassment or discrimination; and extending the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed from one year to three years”.
Queens College’s Office of Compliance and Diversity Programs webpage “commends Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s priority on college campus safety and through legislation he championed, setting an example for the nation in addressing sexual violence on campus. We commend the governor and the New York State Legislature for enacting this important law. CUNY has been a strong supporter of these and related reforms.” I believe that this office should consider updating the aforementioned statement to include wordsof acknowledgment for the recent events regarding the sexual harassment allegations against the governor and citing that these events do not affect the stringent legislation meant to provide adequate protections for students and staff as well as reassurance that the college will follow through with all protocol and procedure.
Governor Cuomo himself has stated that the pervasive and severe clause is “absurd.” Yet his female aids suffered at the command of his pervasive, invasive and severe behavior that included groping, unwanted kissing and sexually-based insinuations. Like any other man of privilege, he dismissed his actions as benign, citing his Italian-American heritage as justification for his propensity towards overly affectionate persona. He has admitted to being misinterpreted which still remains a covert admission of guilt. One can be very affectionate as well, but there are certainly limits to what is acceptable and intolerable. Cuomo even went as far as to articulate that “the legislation sends a strong message that time is up on sexual harassment in the workplace, hence setting the standard of equality for women.” The moment victims came forward with their testimonies is the moment Cuomo’s “standard for female equality regressed into one of perverse power dynamics. Sexual harassment claims should not be considered politically motivated. They should be thoroughly investigated to ensure justice for the victim and accountability for the perpetrator. At QC, sexual assault and harrasment claims are subject to an in-depth investigation.
For more information regarding QC’s policy on this matter, click here