Joe Biden and Alisha Boe Visit Mason to Speak Out Against Sexual Assault on Campus: “It’s On Us”

Photos by Mimi Albano

Mason was honored to welcome former Vice President Joe Biden and Netflix actress Alisha Boe (13 Reasons Why) to the Fairfax campus on Wednesday, April 26th as the keynote speakers of the It’s On Us Rally. The event capped off a string of events at Mason recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month and was hosted by It’s On Us, a campaign to combat sexual violence on college campuses.

Student Media was on hand to cover the event with photo, video, and news coverage that included a student-produced live stream and representatives from Fourth Estate, PR & Design Team, Mason Cable Network, and WGMU Radio. Student Media’s video feed was picked up by several national news outlets, including CNN, Fox News, WDCW, Buzzfeed, People Magazine online, and others.

A longtime advocate against sexual violence and discrimination, Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1990 as a Senator from Delaware and launched the #ItsOnUs campaign with then-President Barack Obama in 2014 to raise awareness of the ongoing threats facing young American women. Estimates vary, but nearly 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted before leaving college, according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mason President Angel Cabrera highlighted that statistic by focusing the crowd on compassion for the victims: “I don’t care about the five, the six, or the seven, I care about the one!”

In a fiery and blunt speech to the crowd, Biden called on everyone to take responsibility for this issue and recognize that it is indeed “On Us” to make the necessary cultural, attitudinal, and institutional changes needed to reverse the alarming levels of sexual violence plaguing colleges and universities across America.

Click on the image above to watch MCNews’ video coverage of the event

Perhaps Biden’s most memorable moment was when the former Vice President spoke with deep conviction and flashes of anger about the necessity of obtaining affirmative consent before engaging in sexual activity: “Guys, a woman who’s dead drunk cannot consent. You are raping her. I really mean this, we’ve got to talk about this. Consent requires affirmative consent.”

George Mason University has made strides in this area in recent years, introducing a 24-hour crisis hotline, forming a task force to examine existing processes and resources, increasing counseling opportunities for victims, and pledging to make the eradication of sexual violence a top institutional priority.

You can take Mason’s pledge to end sexual assault via University Life’s website:

Check out MCN’s video coverage above and read WGMU Radio’s Jackie Reed’s article online: