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Why consent matters, from campus to Capitol Hill

There has been much controversy around former Vice President Joe Biden and his “overly friendly” approach toward women. Lucy Flores, former member of the Nevada State Assembly, came out and spoke about an encounter she had with Biden. According to an article from The Cut, Flores wrote, “I felt two hands on my shoulders ... He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”

Even though these actions were not putting her in any extensive danger, Biden crossed the lines of personal boundaries. This encounter that Biden had with Flores might not seem like such a big thing and Biden even tweeted a response to the article Flores wrote, stating, “And not once ¬– never – did I believe I acted inappropriately.”

However, when you put yourself in Flores’ shoes, you will realize the uncomfortable tension in the situation. It is not normal to have an older man creeping on a young woman and slowly breathing in her hair. His intent might not have been wrong in his own eyes; however, he clearly made her uncomfortable in the encounter and caused her to feel violated. This story can relate to the accusation of another political figure, Virginia Representative Bobby Scott. According to NBC News, “[Macherie Reese Everson] was ‘touched inappropriately’ by the congressman on her back and knee on two separate occasions.” The article later stated, “[Scott] fired her after she dismissed his alleged advances.” Scott came out after the accusation and said, “I have never sexually harassed anyone in my 25 years of service in the United States Congress, or in my 40 years of public service, or at any other time.” That statement strongly contradicts Everson’s claim of harassment. 

 Both of these political figures are just two of the many who have been accused of inappropriately touching women over the years. They should be held accountable for violating personal boundaries and should not be allowed to get away with their actions. As political figures, these men should not be permitted to hold office, because, if allowed, these men would be setting a bad example for whoever might be looking up to them and it also would be, in a sense, OK-ing breaking personal boundaries and sexual harassment. 

I, personally, have had my own experience with sexual harassment so I can relate to how Flores and Everson feel. During my second semester, a male college student was being overly physical with me. Though he may have not even realized it, the touching even got to the point where I did not feel safe in his presence anymore. I told him multiple times to stop touching me but he ignored my warnings. It was only until I reported the offense to Public Safety that he began to back off and leave me alone. 

Hofstra tries to encourage students that feel violated to report the offense. However, just from my time of going down to Public Safety’s office I can say that they clearly do not take offenses, such as these, as seriously as they should be taken. They put you in a stuffy room and they make you fill out a form. You wait an unnecessarily long time before someone who can even remotely make a difference can help you. What kind of system do we have set up in our schools? We cannot even get proper help when it is much needed. In a sense, it seems that places like Hofstra are trying to normalize these offenses and they do not take them seriously. Instead, students should be held accountable for their actions and if it is a major offense, they should be expelled from the University. Hofstra’s main priority should be to protect women against predators, just like the political realm should not OK the behavior of Biden and Scott. If we do not take a stand against this, we are not creating a safer world for women. We need to rally together and let others know that we, as women, will not be made silent. 

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