Biden talks sexual violence on campuses, introduces new federal guidelines against it

Laura Donovan | Contributor

Vice president Joe Biden and the Department of Education want schools to take stronger measures to halt campus sexual abuse and assault. The vice president and education secretary Arne Duncan visited the University of New Hampshire on Monday to unveil new guidelines on campus sexual assault for all universities and colleges receiving federal funds.

“Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment in which to learn,” Biden said, citing the high rates of campus sexual assault and abuse. “That’s why we’re taking new steps to help our nation’s schools, universities and colleges end the cycle of sexual violence on campus.”

Biden spoke at the University of New Hampshire campus because of its distinguished sexual violence prevention program.

“No means no. No means no if you’re drunk or if you’re sober,” Biden said. “No means no if you’re in bed in a dorm or on the street. No means no, even if you said yes at first, and you changed your mind.”

“Every school would like to think it’s immune from sexual violence,” Secretary Duncan said, “but the facts suggest otherwise.”

The Department of Education gave schools a letter stating that Title IX protects students from all sexual harassment. Under the department guidelines, schools informed about instances of sexual harassment or violence are required to take immediate action to end the abuse and stop future occurrences, according to the LA Times. The school has to investigate the incident whether a student files a complaint. Additionally, the school has a duty to protect the student who filed the complaint.

Schools also have to have sex discrimination rules in place and designate an employee to manage the institution’s compliance with Title IX, which is the policy that forbids discrimination based on sex in education programs. Higher education institutions must also make complaint filing procedures based on Title IX violations clearly available.

Though Biden reportedly did not talk about Yale University in his speech, the Ivy League institution is currently under investigation for “its failure to eliminate a hostile sexual environment on campus, in violation of Title IX.” The investigation comes in response to last month’s Title IX complaint, which was signed by male and female Yale undergraduates and recent graduates and claims the university has inadequately handled campus sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents. The complaint asserts that the institution’s neglect has created a “hostile environment.” The document addresses last year’s nationwide scandal that involved Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity members shouting, “No means yes! Yes means anal!”

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