Biden Reinforces ‘It’s on Us’ Message In His Visit to Pitt

Issue Date: 
April 11, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden brought the White House’s sexual-assault prevention message, “It’s on Us,” to a welcoming audience at the University of Pittsburgh.

Nearly 1,000 people, primarily students, crowded into the University’s Petersen Events Center lobby on April 5 to hear the vice president discuss the national initiative.

“This is a character test,” Biden said. “You have to pass it, and we as a nation have to pass it. ‘No’ means ‘NO.’ Period. And when consent cannot be given, it is assault. It is a crime.”

In late February, more than 4,000 Pitt students took the “It’s on Us” pledge, signing their names on pieces of construction paper, which were made into a paper chain comprising 4,152 names and links. 

Biden said that more than 340,000 college students nationwide have taken the pledge, which states that a signer will recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault; identify situations in which sexual assault may occur; intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given; and create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

The White House began “It’s on Us” in 2014 in an effort to heighten awareness of a “rape culture” and sexual assaults on some college campuses. 

Pitt has been active on several fronts regarding its own sexual assault prevention efforts. Late last fall, Michele Welker joined Pitt’s Counseling Center as the new coordinator of the existing Office of Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education (SHARE). Welker works closely with Pitt’s Title IX coordinator, Katie Pope, in leading the University’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct. In addition, Pitt established a Sexual Assault Task Force in May 2014, and it includes campus leaders from the Division of Student Affairs, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Intercollegiate Athletics, faculty and staff from academic schools, student groups, and regional campuses.