Home U.S To pass a new sexual assault law, college students themselves got in...

To pass a new sexual assault law, college students themselves got in the driver's seat

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CONCORD, N.H. — On a Thursday morning in late February last year, first-year Dartmouth College student David Millman traveled from Hanover to Concord to testify in front of the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. He hitched a ride with State Rep. Garrett Muscatel, who was on his way to work.

Millman and other advocates gathered in Room 100 of the New Hampshire State House. On the table was Senate Bill 679 that, if passed, would provide comprehensive protections to victims of campus sexual assault.

In his testimony, Millman recalled overhearing a male floormate, who already had several Title IX reports filed against him, talking about some of Millman’s female friends, saying, “Let’s get them so drunk that they can’t say no.”

“The more I talk to people, the more I realize that it’s not a unique experience at all. Everyone I talk to has either been impacted or knows someone who has been impacted by sexual violence,” Millman told committee members. “This bill does a lot of amazing things, but ensuring a fair and timely investigation, and the counseling that this bill provides in particular, would have vastly improved the experiences of the victims on my floor.”

Laying the groundwork

In January, New Hampshire’s new law regarding sexual assault and sexual misconduct in institutions of higher education went into effect, giving the Granite State one of the most comprehensive laws of its kind in the country. The bill, which was signed in July, passed with bipartisan support against seemingly unlikely odds during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

David Millman testifying in Concord, New Hampshire, in February 2020.

“It was really amazing to see just how many student leaders were really dedicated to improving the climate on college campuses,” said Pamela Keilig, public policy specialist for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

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The students who led the effort are part of a volunteer-run organization called the Every Voice Coalition, founded by Massachusetts college students in 2014, now in several states. 



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