Biden addresses male role in ending sexual assault

By Declan Harty

Vice President Joe Biden stressed the importance of the role of men in speaking out and supporting survivors of sexual assault at the “It’s On Us” rally at Campus Recreation Center East on Thursday.

Biden commended survivors for their courage when speaking out about their assaults and encouraged everyone, especially men, on campus to break the silence surrounding sexual assault.

“There is no time, no circumstance, beyond self defense when a man has the right to raise his hand to a woman, period. That’s the standard,” Biden said. “And any time consent is not given or cannot be given, it is sexual assault.”

Male and female survivors of sexual assault shared their stories before the official remarks. 

Biden was accompanied on stage by Student Body President Mitch Dickey and actress Jessica Szohr. The three spoke in front of a crowd with more than 300 about the campaign and the movement to end sexual assault on college campuses.

“We realized that the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign meant engaging our campus in sexual assault prevention, and if that can empowers just one student to step up and stop sexual assault from happening, then everything we did would be worth it,” Dickey said. “Our generation must take this issue upon ourselves to hold each other accountable for our actions … and to remember it’s on us, all of us.”

Biden called on campus leaders, Greeks and athletes to end sexual assault and take the “It’s On Us” pledge.

“That’s all within your power,” Biden said. “It comes down to a simple proposition: We really have to change the culture, the culture on campus as to what’s acceptable.”

Over 200,000 people have signed the pledge nationally, according to the White House.

Rep. Rodney Davis congratulated the campus on how hard the leaders have worked to make the campaign a success.

“I am so proud of the students and faculty here at the University of Illinois for stepping up and taking a stand against sexual assault on your campus,” Davis said.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who spoke earlier in the event, added the Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that will help survivors of sexual assault statewide.

“If somebody tells you they’ve been a victim of sexual assault, I want you to believe them,” Madigan said.

After the speech ended, Biden visited the Alma Mater for photos with student body president Mitch Dickey and student senate vice presidents, Matt Hill and Sarah Hochman.

“It’s about the woman down the hall in your dorm, or in your class, or on your team,” Biden said. “It’s about letting them know that it is not their fault.”

Miranda Holloway contributed to this report 

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