Biden: Colleges 'need to step up' to address sexual assaults

Vice President Biden on Tuesday called on colleges and universities to adopt a new series of steps that Obama administration officials say will reduce the "epidemic" of sexual assaults on college campuses.

"Colleges and universities need to face the fact of what exists on their campuses," Biden said during an event at the White House. "They need to step up to it."

Biden called on colleges and universities to begin taking anonymous surveys on their campuses in an effort to better understand the how often sexual assault occurs. He noted that only 13 percent of student victims reported their assaults to campus or local police.

"Colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye and pretend like sexual assaults and rape don't happen on their campuses," Biden said.

The administration will partner with Rutgers University to develop a pilot version of the survey and seek legislative or regulatory ways to require schools to conduct such a survey of their student bodies by 2016.


The vice president's speech coincided with the release of a report from a presidential task force examining campus sexual assault and the launch of a new website — NotAlone.gov — that will serve as a clearinghouse of resources and data for victims and advocates.

The report says the administration will produce sample confidentiality and reporting policies for universities, offer specialized tracings to school officials, and provide guidance on how colleges can improve their investigative and disciplinary protocols. The federal government will also facilitate partnerships between universities and community-based organizations like rape crisis centers, the White House said.

The White House is also launching an ad campaign encouraging men to intervene and help potential victims. Biden debuted a public service announcement featuring celebrities including James Bond actor Daniel Craig, "Late Night" host Seth Meyers, and "The Office" star Steve Carell encouraging men to root out sexual violence.

"Every one of them said immediately, 'what do you want me to do?' " Biden said. "What can I do? This is about letting young men, boys [know] what it means to be a man."

A separate ad featuring Biden, President Obama, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and soccer star David Beckham encourages men to never strike a woman.

Biden said that when he was growing up in Pennsylvania, he was taught that "if I man raised his hand to a woman, you had the job to kick the living crap out of him."

Noting that the comment wasn't "very presidential or vice presidential," Biden said, nevertheless, men had to play a larger role.

"Do something. Speak up. Stand up," Biden said.