Vice President Joe Biden has tough message for college president - News, Weather & Sports

Vice President Joe Biden has tough message for college presidents about sexual assault

Vice President Joe Biden (Corey Schmidt | WBTV) Vice President Joe Biden (Corey Schmidt | WBTV)

Vice President Joe Biden came to Clemson University with a tough message for college presidents: follow the laws about reporting sexual assaults on campus or face the consequences.

Biden's stop Tuesday morning was part of a three-campus tour to promote a campaign to end sexual assaults on college campuses.

The campaign, called It's On Us, was launched by the Obama Administration in September 2014.

During his stop at Clemson, the Vice President told a crowd of about 1,000 students, faculty and staff that assaulting a woman was absolutely unacceptable. He asked those in the crowd to sign a to stop sexual assault and report cases of sexual violence that they know about.

"Sexual violence on college campuses makes no discrimination between geography, age, size, SAT scores or anything else," Biden told the crowd. "Sexual assault is not about sex, it's about power. It's about the abuse of power."

Biden spokes exclusively with WBTV following the event.

In the one-on-one interview, Biden said the best way to stop the problem of sexual assaults is to change the culture.

"We can change the culture. This is all about culture. Once the moral disapprobation of students on campus, or the guy who acts like a pariah, that's when things start to change," he said.

Biden, who was the original author of the Violence Against Women Act two decades ago, said he has been working to change the culture during his time in the White House.

Among the efforts he highlighted Tuesday was an effort by the US Department of Education to crack down on colleges and universities who fail to provide adequate assistance to students who report sexual assaults on campus.

Under a federal law known as Title IX, schools are required to make adequate accommodations to students who report being the victim of such crimes.

Currently, Biden said, the Department of Education is investigating 157 schools for alleged violations of Title IX.

"Most of the schools are responding," Biden said. "What happens is you say that school didn't report; they go whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. It's not just the concern of the loss of federal dollars, it's the concern that you're under investigation and no school wants to be on that list."

Locally, an On Your Side investigation found three area schools who failed to disclose all sexual assaults reported to police and other campus security authorities as required by law.

READ: Degree of Deception: Local Schools under-reporting sexual assaults

Biden said convincing college presidents to report accurate numbers of sexual assaults on campus has been a challenge.

"Administrators, they don't want to touch it initially because if they publish the number of women raped on campus or abused on campus, they're worried it will affect their ratings. That goes to the ivy league schools to the schools that are small colleges," he said.

But the vice president warned that administrators who knowingly cover up sexual assaults on their campuses are just as culpable as those who commit the crimes.

"They should be held accountable, they're accomplices in effect," Biden said.

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