College is traditionally characterized by new experiences, opportunities, and friendships. Although most people fondly remember their college experience as the “good ole days” there is a much darker side to campus life.  According to the University of New Hampshire, 20% of all college women are victims of a rape or sexual assault.

On Monday, April 4, 2011, Vice President Joe Biden spoke about the issue of sexual violence on campus at the University of New Hampshire as part of a new initiative under the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The initiative is an instructional set of guidelines stating how to  meet  Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 obligations while investigating sexual violence claims on campus. Highlights of the document include:

  • Asking campuses to have a grievance system for sexual violence claims
  • Asking campuses to quickly begin  investigations regardless of pending criminal investigations
  • Asking campuses to use the standard of a preponderance of the evidence rather than the current “more likely than not” standard
  • Asking that during investigatory hearings, all parties are given the opportunity to present both evidence and witnesses
  • The Vice President chose the Univeristy of New Hampshire as the forum for this speech due to the University’s two progressive initiatives to prevent campus violence: Know Your Power (a comprehensive marketing campaign focused on rape prevention) and Bringing in the Bystander (a marketing campaign which holds each student responsible for preventing rape). During the speech, Biden recounted the true story of a young women who was raped on her way home from a campus bonfire. She later went to the campus police where instead of investigating her claim, the police simply asked her: What were you wearing? How were you dancing? Were you drinking? Since she admitted to drinking the police sent her home claiming that it was her fault. Vice President Biden stated that this was a major problem and that the myths and perceptions of rape need to be challenged. He later stated, “Look guys – no matter what a girl does, no matter how she’s dressed, no matter how much she’s had to drink, it’s never, never, never, never OK to touch her without her consent. This doesn’t make you a man. It makes you a coward.”

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