The month I committed to attending Boston University, I remember reading an anonymous Facebook post about a BU student who’d gone to a party with her friends, gotten drunk and was assaulted by a classmate — a man she’d have to come in contact with for the rest of the semester unless she dropped the class and switched friend groups. She spoke out about her experience but faced backlash from her peers and from the university.

Universities do sometimes provide support to survivors. But in this case and countless others, survivors often fear what’ll happen to them if they speak out.

It didn’t help that in May of last year, the Trump administration set new Title IX policies that force survivors to face their attackers in live hearings and cross-examinations — a process that could re-traumatize victims and prevent more people from reporting their cases.

I was frustrated with these new policies because, while they made sense from an administrative perspective, they didn’t seem fair to actual survivors. Anyone with empathy, I thought, would despise this.

But there is some hope. In January, Massachusetts passed the Every Voice bill, which ensures that survivors have access to free medical and legal services, aren’t penalized for breaking school rules — underage drinking or curfews, for example — at the time of the assault and receive access to services that provide them with their rights and options to stay confidential. New Hampshire passed similar legislation last June.

These new laws — the first of their kind in the nation — were written by the Every Voice Coalition, a student and survivor-led organization that was founded in Massachusetts in 2015. What started out as advocacy for survivors of sexual assault at Massachusetts colleges became the coalition’s six-year-long fight to make college a better place for all students across the nation.

The Massachusetts bill will “combat sexual violence and support survivors studying at Massachusetts' private, public and community colleges and universities,” said Lily James, co-executive director of the coalition.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts are the first states in the country to make such positive strides toward providing safer college experiences for all of their students, but similar bills have been filed in Connecticut, Hawaii and Illinois.

Still, arbitrary state borders shouldn’t define whether a victim of sexual assault is treated fairly and respectfully when reporting their case. More state legislatures should take up at least some version of the Every Voice bill to ensure that students, faculty and staff everywhere are protected on their campuses.

Colleges and universities would benefit, too. The new legislation in Massachusetts and New Hampshire provides much-needed annual prevention and response training for employees and students. And it also helps the greater public better understand the scope of the sexual assault problem on campuses by requiring colleges and universities to survey students and employees about their experiences and to publish the results.

As I’ve gone through my four years of college, it’s been unfortunately common to hear stories like the one I read before I came to Boston University. I have quickly learned that rape is not at all uncommon on university campuses — and, even worse, there are often very few helpful resources that are readily available for victims.

Last summer, four female students at Boston Unversity started Campus Survivors, an Instagram page for survivors to anonymously share their experiences with sexual violence, harassment and assault at their universities — not just in Massachusetts, but nationwide. In the first two months alone, the account garnered close to 1,500 followers and posted more than 50 survivor stories.

That anecdotal data is backed up by hard numbers. A 2019 study by the Association of American Universities found that across 33 major campuses, “almost one in four undergraduate women” experiences non-consensual sexual interactions during college.

It speaks volumes that 26 years after the American Medical Association deemed sexual violence a “silent, violent epidemic,” we are just now arriving at a place where our state government is starting — just starting — to understand the problem and implement laws that can catalyze real change. Massachusetts and New Hampshire represent the first two steps. Let’s take 48 more.