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Biden Urges Illini Men To 'Show Courage'

Apr 24, 2015
Originally published on April 24, 2015 8:03 am

Vice President Joe Biden told students on the University of Illinois Urbana campus Thursday that preventing sexual assault is a shared responsibility.

Biden used an emotional, almost evangelical tone to urge about 1,500 students to "show courage" and “be the man you were raised to be.”

"By the way gentlemen, silence is a form of approval. Inaction is a form of cowardice," he said. "Speaking up takes courage." 

The crowd cheered for the Vice President in the gym of one of the campus' recreation centers.

Biden voiced anger at those who commit sexual assault.

"Raping someone who's passed out, when there's even a discussion whether that's a crime -- it is outrageous,” Biden said. “What kind of man does it take to do that? What kind of society?"

Biden says he chose the University of Illinois because of the work the school is doing for victims of sexual assault. The university recently beefed up its sexual-assault awareness programming along with an increase in services for victims.

Some of that came after the University paid a $77,000 settlement to a former student who says school officials mishandled her assault complaint in 2011.

More than 100 colleges and universities are currently under federal Title IX investigation in connection with sexual assault cases.

Biden's visit was part of a White House initiative launched last fall called "It's On Us."

  • Hannah Meisel and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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