Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to the University of Illinois Thursday to spotlight the Obama administration’s latest campaign to combat campus sexual assault — the topic of a groundbreaking investigation by the Center for Public Integrity.
Speaking before a rousing crowd of students and administrators at a recreation center on the university’s Urbana-Champaign campus, Biden urged that everyone in the audience — especially men — pledge to prevent what he called a “vicious form of violence” at schools nationwide. A long-time crusader against gender-based violence, who authored the landmark 1994 Violence Against Women Act, the vice president spoke passionately about the subject of sexual assault on college campuses.
“The culture has come a long way, but it has so much farther to go,” said Biden, his voice rising. “Until we make a pariah of all those who believe they have a right to say, ‘She asked for it,’ we won’t make the progress we have to make.”
He added, “It is within our power to end sexual abuse on every campus in every community. There really is no excuse.”
The Illinois rally, held in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, celebrated the White House’s “It’s on Us” awareness campaign, which encourages students and administrators not only to respond to sexual assault on college campuses, but also prevent it. Launched last fall, the education effort features celebrity-studded public-service announcements geared toward college-aged men. According to the White House, more than 300 colleges and universities have hosted student-led rallies, pledge drives and similar “It’s on Us” events. Biden praised the Urbana-Champaign student body for doing more than any other campus to implement the program.