Biden Is Setting Up A Foundation Committed To Ending Violence Against Women

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Barack Obama,Joe Biden
Photo: Susan Walsh (AP)

Biden outlined that 22 years ago, when he worked hard to help pass the Violence Against Women Act, one in five women on college campuses was experiencing sexual assault. In those 22 years, that number has not changed. Biden also makes clear that LGBTQ students face an even higher rate of sexual violence.

 “These numbers are unacceptable, and it’s on all of us to make it stop,” he wrote. “Many of you are answering the call — sending open letters to your students about your schools’ policies and procedures on sexual assault. Educating students on bystander intervention. Holding campus-wide listening sessions. Meeting face to face with survivors. Administering campus climate surveys to assess the true nature and extent of sexual violence on your campuses. But we haven’t seen enough of you.”

This is true. There are currently 300 Title IX investigations open at 221 colleges across the country, and there have been numerous high profile cases that illustrate schools not complying with Title IX sexual assault regulations. Women across the country have reported their sexual assaults to their schools and colleges, only to be brushed off, have their accused assailants cleared of the charges, and even punished for their reporting.

Instead, Biden and The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault advised college presidents to conduct campus climate surveys, launch prevention campaigns, and strike a balance between the rights of the accuser and the rights of the accused. This last piece is vital. When someone is accused of sexual assault, we see a phenomenon that we don’t see in almost any other reporting of a crime: no one believes the accuser. When someone says they were robbed or had their wallet stolen, they aren’t accused of lying or making it up, or even told it’s their fault for being victimized. But when someone comes forward as a sexual assault survivor, doubt is immediately cast and they are very often victim blamed. Since the number of false rape reports is so small, this makes no sense. It’s important that the accused get a fair hearing from college investigators, but it’s also important that the accuser gets the same.

As he leaves office, Biden said he will remain committed to ending the crisis of sexual assaults on campus through his own work, and he urged everyone else to do the same.

“I’m no longer going to be vice president, but I’m going to be associated with several major universities and have a significant staff,” he said. “I’m going to set up a foundation, to devote the rest of my life to dealing with violence against women.”

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