“When it comes to sexual abuse, it is quite simple: no means no,” said Vice President Biden at an event earlier today at the University of New Hampshire. Secretary Duncan joined the Vice President on the campus of UNH to announce new 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.
The Vice President—who as a Senator was the sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994—noted that schools, colleges, universities and community colleges all have a responsibility to be proactive in what amounts to the civil rights of women on campuses.
One of the reasons for this new guidance is that acts of sexual violence are vastly under-reported. “Every school would like to believe it is immune from sexual violence, but the facts suggest otherwise,” said Secretary Duncan. Duncan also explained that sexual violence is not only a problem at colleges and universities, but more and more of our nation’s young students are suffering from acts of sexual violence early. Recent data shows that nearly 4,000 reported incidents of sexual battery and over 800 reported rapes and attempted rapes are occurring in our nation’s public high schools. By the time girls graduate from high school, more than one in ten will have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse in or out of school.
The Vice President noted that the Obama administration is the first administration to state that sexual violence is not only a crime, but can also be a violation of a woman’s civil rights. You can read more about today’s event, a pdf fact sheet from ED’s Office for Civil Rights, and read ED’s dear colleague letter to higher ed, K-12 and other Title IX stakeholders.
Watch Secretary Duncan and Vice President Biden speak at UNH.