Vice President Joe Biden made his final call to action against sexual assault on college campuses at the White House’s “It’s On Us” summit Jan. 5. The event focused on preventing sexual violence against students, something approximately one in five college women and one in 16 college men will experience.
In attendance were student leaders, federal representatives, community organizers and business leaders. Attendees heard from members of the administration and outside stakeholders about the work that is being done to address campus sexual assault and to engage in a dialogue about the future of this work.
In January 2014, the president and vice president established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from
To raise awareness for the initiative, Obama and Biden launched “It’s On Us” in September 2014. The campaign asks everyone to make a personal commitment to step off the sidelines and be part of the solution to end campus sexual assault.
“It’s On Us” has four main goals: to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault; to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur; to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given; and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
Over the past two years, approximately 400,000 people have taken the “It’s On Us” pledge online and students have hosted almost 2,000 events at more than 500 college campuses nationwide. Cal Poly hosted numerous events, most notably “It’s On Us” week in April 2016. The event will happen again this year, kicking off Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
— VP Biden (Archived) (@VP44) January 5, 2017
Biden made a final call while in office for college administration to change the culture on their campuses by protecting students and supporting survivors.
“As leaders of our nation’s colleges and universities, you have a legal and a moral obligation to combat sexual violence on your campuses — and that starts with changing the culture on your campuses,” Biden said in his speech at the White House.
While the future of the White House’s efforts to reduce sexual violence remains unknown, “It’s On Us” student representative Kelly Jacobs said the initiative will continue to exist.
“While the White House is a huge partner, the real driving force is the students and staff,” journalism junior Jacobs said. “There is really nothing the politics could do to stop it.”
As one of 28 student advisory committee members for “It’s On Us,” Jacobs works with student leaders for universities across California and Hawaii on programs preventing sexual assault. She has also met with Biden at his private residence for a meeting about the next steps in the “It’s On Us” awareness campaign.
Jacobs shared with Biden the work that Safer does with students at Cal Poly and the goals they set for their community.
“He was impressed with our program and the strides we have taken to help survivors and address gender-based violence on our campus,” Jacobs said. “He kept telling me how proud he is of the work I do and the impact Safer is making.”
Biden asked Jacobs to stay afterwards so he could personally call the Cal Poly Safer coordinator, which Jacobs described as an “amazing experience.”
The “It’s On Us” spring week of action will be April 2-8 on campuses nationwide in addition to Cal Poly. Safer said it does not have a definitive schedule yet, but is planning events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month throughout April. Safer plans to continue to partner with Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) to engage students from various communities across campus.