During her address, the law professor encouraged the graduating class to engage in inclusive and diverse environments and to “reject cynicism” ― despite a divisive and troubling political climate.
“Unfortunately, sexual harassment, abuse and assault do not end with college days,” she said, noting a Department of Defense survey that revealed a spike in reports of sexual assault in the military in 2018.
“And yet, there are those who would have us believe that the stories and statistics, showing the prevalence of sexual misconduct are a hoax,” she later added. “They prefer to believe in their own myths, often misogynist, about the behavior.”
Hill then noted, “And despite the evidence, sexual misconduct deniers have friends in high places.”
The Brandeis University law professor paused for a few moments after her statement as the crowd gave her loud applause. She added, “But not just that place.”
Hill’s line was a reference to her testimony in Clarence Thomas’ 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings, presided over by then-Sen. Joe Biden, in which she accused now-Justice Thomas of sexual harassment.
Her history-making testimony has been widely credited as a catalyst for change in raising awareness in the way workplace sexual harassment is viewed.
Discussing sexual misconduct during her speech at Wellesley, Hill said, “So the problem is not just the behavior, it’s the enabling that goes along with it.”
“But we are fortunate, we outnumber them,” she continued. “We are louder than they are ... and we are ready to take them on.”
Watch Hill’s full speech below: