Biden To Speak At University Of Pittsburgh On Sex Assault

Mar 29, 2016

 

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks to the U.S. military personnel at an air base in the United Arab Emirates, Monday, March 7, 2016.
Credit Kamran Jebreili / AP

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Pittsburgh next week to address campus sexual assault.

Biden's speech at the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday will be the first in a multi-city tour as part of the White House's "It's On Us" campaign.

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The initiative began two years ago on 200 college and university campuses where student leaders pledged to try to prevent sexual assaults. It both promotes sexual assault education and offers tips on how to intervene.

Alison Hall, the executive director of Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, said empowering bystanders is an important step in reducing instances of sexual assault.

“Men, of course, want to do something,” she said. “And most people want to do something. And sometimes they don’t have the skills to do that or know that it’s OK to do that.”

Sexual assault education is especially pertinent to college campuses, according to Suzy Hinkle, president of Pitt’s Women’s Organization. She said there needs to be more focus on helping victims.

“Victims shouldn’t be blamed for their experiences and for their assaults,” Hinkle said. “And that it really is a community responsibility to make sure that this sort of violence is not accepted and isn’t just brushed off.”

National “It’s On Us” Campaign Director Kristin Avery said students have been receptive to the program, creating their own campus-specific groups to help educate their peers.  

“They really are taking up that mantle and really creating their own programs on their college campuses and pushing for change on their college campus,” Avery said.

Beyond specific policies, Avery said schools can help prevent sexual assaults through education and making sure there are resources available, such as a public website and task force.

Biden will also visit the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and the University of Colorado in Boulder at stops next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.