The Daily Illini

“It’s On Us” to improve sexual assault prevention

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the University on Thursday about ending sexual assault in light of the University’s efforts with the “It’s On Us” campaign. In the U.S., one in five women and one in 71 men will be sexually assaulted during their lives, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The prevalence of sexual assault and prevention are important topics to be discussed and addressed. However, the nation and the University still have a long way to go.

How the nation can be improved

Preceding Biden’s speech, many student speakers shared stories of their own sexual assaults. These stories involved male and females being assaulted, as well as accounts of same-sex sexual assault. However, Biden solely focused on male attackers — never discussing male victims or female attackers. One in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and this is not a statistic we can overlook. We cannot blame one gender for this crime. If we are to end sexual assault, we must hold everyone accountable — both males and females — and realize anyone can be a victim or perpetrator.

How the University can be improved

The “It’s On Us” campaign preaches that everyone is responsible for ending sexual assault. Students have been pledging to this movement, and the faculty and administration need to respond to our efforts and enforce more rules barring perpetrators from this campus.

During Biden’s speech, he said “perpetrators (should be) treated with the moral disapprobation they deserve … it’s not only grounds for discipline and expulsion — you should go to jail.” However, no zero-tolerance policies are set in place for the University. Students are calling for justice; our federal government is calling for justice. The University administration needs to explore creating new policies.

How student efforts can be improved

Thursday morning saw a line of hundreds of students waiting to see the Vice President of the United States. Seeing him might have been a once in a lifetime opportunity, but that’s not what Thursday was about. Instead of walking away boasting about the fact that Biden spoke on our campus, we need to take this as an opportunity to finally end sexual assault.

Even if you did not attend Thursday’s event, our campus is at the forefront of a sexual assault prevention movement. But we still have to improve. Until the day when there are no cases of sexual assault on campus, there will still be areas where we need to make strides.

Everyone’s efforts should be praised for aiming to end sexual assault, but just because we are making improvements doesn’t mean we should stop striving to be even better.

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