Student government issues statement calling for Cuomo to resign
Shortly after the New York attorney general published a report finding that N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, members of the NYU community, including the Student Government Assembly, called for his resignation.
Aug 9, 2021
On Tuesday, Aug. 3, independent investigators overseen by New York’s attorney general reported that N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women. In the days since, a series of government officials, including President Biden, have called for his resignation or impeachment. On Tuesday, the Student Government Assembly released a statement on Gov. Cuomo’s actions and called for his resignation.
“We stand with survivors of sexual assault and harassment,” the SGA Executive Committee statement reads. “It has become very clear that the governor’s behavior has been and remains abusive, manipulative, inexcusable, and toxic — both to the women that he has harassed and to the office that he holds.”
SGA Chair Mehrin Ali, Presidents Council Vice-Chair Anthony Cruz and Student Senators Council Vice-Chair Mira Silveira of the SGA’s Executive Committee took the lead on writing the statement. Speaking on behalf of the committee, Cruz, a Steinhardt junior, explained the reasoning behind the statement and its intended impact.
“One of the priorities this year of SGA is to really be transparent and to also have a level of accountability, both to ourselves as an SGA executive committee and also to other government officials that impact, either directly or indirectly, the NYU community as a whole,” Cruz said.
Calling on NYU’s self-identification as a “campus without walls,” the SGA Executive Committee encourages students to invest in local and state politics and hold their government officials accountable. The statement urges students to find out who their legislators are and call on them to speak out against Cuomo’s actions and pass bills that address sexual assault and gender-based violence.
“It is not just an individualistic case. Sexual assault and misconduct is a systemic issue and it requires systemic solutions,” Cruz said. “Hopefully [New York will] reach a future very soon, where survivors come forward with their stories [and] justice can be brought to those that perpetuated it.”
Christopher VanDemark, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the history department, and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences senator, co-wrote and sponsored the NYU Resolution to Foster a Culture of Sexual Respect in spring 2019.
“I’m fully behind the statements that the SGA Executive Committee put out calling for Gov. Cuomo’s impeachment and resignation,” VanDemark said. “And in terms of calling for our residents, folks that live in New York City, to get in touch with their elected representatives to see where they stand on this issue, particularly as it pertains to impeachment. I think that this is really important and something that all of us can do.”
Given the power structure of U.S. politics, Tisch senior Laine Margulies is surprised that Cuomo is being held accountable for his actions, but is encouraged that steps are being taken to normalize holding government officials accountable for abuses of power.
“It honestly astounds me he hasn’t resigned yet,” Margulies said. “I think it speaks completely to his character that he’s tried to brush over it so many times and distract everyone from it instead of taking any accountability.”
Margulies added that it is important to hold powerful men accountable for sexual misconduct and assault more often in order to change social ideas about what is considered acceptable behavior.
“I can only hope the takeaway is that men abusing their power to harass and assault women isn’t acceptable,” they said.
VanDemark shares Margulies’s hope of increased accountability for perpatrators of sexual assault and violence.
“People are starting to wake up to this predator that’s running our state,” VanDemark said. “I hope that the dominoes continue to fall and that he will resign. And we can move forward as the state and the university.”
Contact Rachel Fadem at [email protected]