I love being a student at the University of New Hampshire. It’s in a beautiful part of the country, the campus is gorgeous, and there are so many opportunities for students to grow and develop.
But I never imagined those opportunities would include introducing the Vice President of the United States.
Today I was able to stand up and talk about an issue that is so important to me: ending sexual assault. I believe we can all work together to change the culture so that rape and sexual assault are not tolerated. Teens and young women experience the highest rates of sexual assault. Our generation has the chance to make it stop.
Watch Vice President Joe Biden's full remarks here.
The Vice President feels the same way. Today he shared the stories of victims, talked about the progress we have made, and challenged us to take the next step and prevent rape before it ever happens.
Along with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Vice President announced comprehensive guidance to help schools, colleges and universities better understand their obligations under federal civil rights laws to prevent and respond to the problem of campus sexual assault. This guidance makes clear the legal obligations under Title IX of any school, college or university receiving federal funds to respond promptly and effectively to sexual violence.
The Vice President was able to speak for young women and men whose voices had been silenced by rape and other forms of sexual violence. He inspired me to continue my work as an advocate for victims, and keep speaking publicly about the devastating consequences to our society. He also gave us the confidence to carry on our fight to end sexual violence. In his words, “not just to decrease it, to end it.” The Vice President reminded us that as individuals we can make a difference, one person at a time. As he said:
These are your friends, these areyour classmates, the people you study with. You need to watch out for each other. You are the first—and best—line of defense…The more and more you bring attention to the issue, the less and less the behavior goes unnoticed, unreported and unpunished, and the more and more attitudes begin to change.
I was both honored and privileged to introduce Vice President Biden today, but what I’m really excited about are the next steps. I believe that this event was just one of many great things to come here at UNH and across other communities in our nation.
Know your rights under Title IX? Learn more.
For more information about the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the anti-discrimination statutes that it enforces, please visit their website.
Sara Jane Bibeau is a senior at the University of New Hampshire and a volunteer advocate with their Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program