With a Challenge to Students, Former Vice President Biden Reinforces Rutgers’ "End Sexual Violence" Campaign

With a Challenge to Students, Former Vice President Biden Reinforces Rutgers’ "End Sexual Violence" Campaign

Biden brings national "It’s On Us" campaign to Rutgers-New Brunswick

Former Vice President Joe Biden at the College Avenue Gym
Photo: Nick Romanenko, Rutgers University
Joe Biden, the 47th vice president of the United States, challenged students during a speech today at Rutgers University-New Brunswick to fight the culture of silence and intimidation against victims of sexual violence, to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, and to create an environment in which sexual violence is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

Vice President Biden spoke before an enthusiastic crowd of 2,106 students at Rutgers-New Brunswick’s College Avenue Gym as part of the nationwide “It’s On Us” campaign to end sexual assault on college campuses.

“Men on campus, you have to take more responsibility,” Biden said to loud applause. “When you see that person who’s stone cold drunk and you see someone, maybe your roommate, bringing her upstairs; if you see that and don’t stand up and say, ‘Not in my house, Jack,’ you’re a coward. Speak out. Get others up to come with you.”

Noting that the first thing many victims do after an incident of sexual violence is to tell a trusted female friend, Biden said, “You women have an obligation not just to be a sympathetic ear but to help. To know what resources are available. Take her by the hand and say, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s where we’re going to go.’  That’s what we mean when we say ‘It’s On Us.’  It’s on each one of us.”

Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Deba Dutta said, “Rutgers is a recognized national leader in sexual violence prevention and education. The university recently expanded its already strong support for victims of sexual violence with help from a federal grant. We have presented recommendations on this topic to a White House task force and to universities and colleges across the country. Rutgers-New Brunswick has launched a comprehensive action plan to combat sexual violence, informed by a campuswide student survey. We are proud to encourage students in this fight by welcoming former Vice President Biden to speak on an issue that has such an important impact on higher education.”

Rutgers University-New Brunswick Chancellor Deba Dutta welcomes former Vice President Joe Biden to campus. 
Photo: Nick Romanenko, Rutgers University

The Rutgers-New Brunswick Division of Student Affairs invited Biden as part of Rutgers-New Brunswick’s "End Sexual Violence" campaign and Turn the Campus Purple, a weeklong series of events intended to help raise awareness and support survivors of dating violence and relationship abuse.

Biden praised Rutgers for its past and current leadership on the issue of sexual violence. He noted that when the U.S. Department of Education recently rescinded Obama-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assaults under Title IX federal law, “They didn’t confuse your chancellor. They didn’t confuse this university. When this guidance was revoked, [Rutgers University President Robert Barchi] said ‘our commitment will not waver.’”

According to the "It’s On Us" campaign, 11.2 percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault. Female students are four times more likely to be a victim of rape or sexual assault than males.  Nine in 10 female college victims of rape and sexual assault knew their offender. Only 20 percent of female student victims, age 18-24, report to law enforcement.

“I am absolutely convinced that we can change the culture. We will have succeeded in this fight when not a single woman who is abused or raped, asks ‘What did I do [to make this happen]?’” Biden said. “Success will come when not a single man who lays a hand on a woman says, ‘She is mine. I am justified.  It is my right.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden poses with Rutgers students for a group selfie.
Photo: Nick Romanenko, Rutgers University
“I promise you, if you keep at this, when your daughter is dropped off at a college campus at her freshman year, your first thought as a parent will not be, is she going to be safe?” Biden said. “Look what your generation has already taken in. You’re the most progressive, tolerant, decent and well-educated generation in history.  That’s just a fact.”

In June 2017, Rutgers announced that a $2 million federal grant will help expand universitywide support for victims of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking by funding the creation and expansion of services, training and education. The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant resulted from a collaborative effort by Rutgers student affairs leaders, researchers, top administrators and students across the university. With matching funds from throughout the university, more than $2.5 million will be made available to increase resources and programs.

In September 2016, Rutgers researchers delivered to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Violence a comprehensive “campus climate survey model” to assess and combat sexual violence – and encouraged colleges and universities across the nation to consider the Rutgers model in the fight against sexual violence on their own campuses. Additionally, Rutgers developed a guide for other institutions interested in using the university's model.

Rutgers-New Brunswick in September 2016 announced the launch of a comprehensive action plan to combat sexual violence, based on the results of the campus climate survey. The initiative includes the launch of Rutgers’ "End Sexual Violence" website to provide a single location for information on all Rutgers-New Brunswick resources related to sexual violence; the expansion of Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance resources to engage with students and enhance advocacy services for survivors; and the introduction of Not Anymore, a web-based education program that covers topics such as consent, healthy relationships, bystander intervention, reporting options and resources.

Media contact: Neal Buccino at neal.buccino@rutgers.edu or 848-932-7328