July 23, 2024

UMW Students Attend Vice President’s Reception

Senior Shelley Hillberry and junior James Sennett were invited to attend a reception at the home of Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, Wednesday to recognize the 16th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The students were chosen because of their involvement in Student Anti-Violence Educators (SAVE), an organization to educate and promote awareness of sexual assault and relationship violence. Hillberry currently is the SAVE president and Sennett helped found the club in 2009.

The reception was held by the pool behind the vice president’s residence, located on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory.

“It was really intimate,” said Hillberry.  “[Biden] gave me a big hug.  He was just hanging out, talking to people and mingling.”

The reception opened with a speech from Dr. Biden, who is a full-time English professor at a community college near the White House.

Her words were followed by a longer speech from the vice president, who impressed upon his guests the importance of the VAWA and the efforts made by the organizations represented.

In addition to the reception, Hillberry and Sennett were also invited to a “Listening Session,” meeting with Lynn Rosenthal, White House advisor for Violence Against Women, as well as representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children, Youth and Families, the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, and the Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

Hillberry and Sennett were among other students and representatives from organizations such as Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, a nonprofit organization with offices in Richmond and Charlottesville, which coordinates the Red Flag Campaign on college campuses.

The students and representatives had the opportunity to share the work they have contributed on-campus against dating violence and also shared ideas on ways the government can help with prevention education.

After listening to feedback from the students and representatives, the panel of government officials offered resources to the representatives.

About Marty Morrison