No More Silence
The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for young people in New Hampshire and across the country. When students arrive on New Hampshire campuses this fall, it should be a time for making new friends, focusing on their academic studies, and exploring extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, the issue of sexual assault is plaguing schools across our nation. That’s why last week, I visited Keene State College to discuss their commitment to improving the safety of their student body. I was encouraged by what I heard at Keene State; here the administration, community, and most importantly students are taking a stand and changing the culture around sexual assault on campus.
You can read more about my visit in the Keene Sentinel: Keene State holds forum on campus sexual assault
This is a very personal issue for me, and earlier this summer I took to the House floor to share my own story. Telling my story was not easy, but it was necessary. If a young girl like “Emily Doe” of the Stanford rape case could have the courage to stand up, face the world, and say that what happened to her was not okay, I wanted to support her in the best way I could. And that meant coming forward and sharing my own experiences, in order to highlight that - while not always as extreme as what happened to Emily Doe - every woman has faced experiences that are unacceptable, and never should have been allowed to happen.
Sadly, my story is not unique, and it’s shared by far too many young people across the nation. Last year, St. Paul’s School in Concord made the news when a graduating senior was charged with sexually assaulting a younger student. Due to state laws, the victim’s name was kept anonymous, but just this morning, Chessy Prout spoke out on the Today Show, revealing her identity to the world and speaking out against the painful and public ordeal she went through.
In her interview Chessy said, “I want other people to feel empowered and just strong enough to be able to say, ‘I have the right to my body. I have the right to say no.’”
I could not agree more with those powerful words.
We need to change the way we think and talk about this issue, and Chessy’s bravery should be an example to us all. Everyone should feel safe on their campuses, and I applaud the work being done at Keene State College and look forward to continuing to work with colleges, universities, and all school campuses across New Hampshire to end campus sexual assault.