National estimates tell us that one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
At UNH specifically, a recent climate survey reveals that 13% of all college students have had an unwanted sexual contact or interaction. That means that right now, there are over 2,000 student survivors between all of UNH’s campuses.
All of these statistics, all of this evidence, all of this pain, and New Hampshire does not have a statewide policy addressing campus sexual violence. We can do better.
New Hampshire is one of 30 states with no campus sexual violence policy. But the Every Voice Coalition, an initiative that began in Massachusetts, is seeking to change that.
“We were tired of seeing sexual violence impact us and those we cared about,” says John Gabrieli, the founder of Every Voice Coalition.
In Massachusetts, the organization is currently working on passing two bills into law: one that will require universities to conduct sexual misconduct climate surveys, and another that will ensure additional protections to survivors on college campuses, even in the wake of anticipated Title IX changes.
“As our advocacy continued and grew across Massachusetts, we started to hear from students and others all over the country who wanted to see similar measures in their own states.” Gabrieli says. “Now, Every Voice bills have been filed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Hawaii, with bipartisan support.”
New Hampshire’s proposed bill - SB 679 - establishes a number of new requirements that will make addressing campus sexual violence a priority on their campuses: providing policies on interpersonal violence, developing a task force and survey on sexual misconduct, appointing a campus safety advisor, requiring institutions to work with law enforcement on reported cases, developing educational programming and awareness campsigns and establishing confidential resource advisors.
SHARPP already provides a number of these services, but many fall on the responsibility of the university and are not within SHARPP’s scope of work. If this bill becomes law, it would mean the university would be working with us to expand those services and help make UNH a safer and more comfortable place for survivors and all students.
But we can’t do this alone. The Every Voice coalition is working with the New Hampshire Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence and students across the state to get this legislation passed. The first step is getting it past the Senate Judiciary Committee at next week’s hearing at the State House. This is a crucial step, and one that could take us to the Senate floor.
If you agree that campus sexual violence is an issue that must be addressed by our state, we need you to come out and show your support at the Senate hearing next Thursday, February 20 at 11am. Your voice and support matters.
You can make your voice heard by testifying on why SB 679 is important, or simply show up to express your support and solidarity. Click here to RSVP and find out more.
Keep an eye out for an info and action session with SHARPP and UNH Students of Social Work.