On Wednesday morning, former Vice President Joe Biden visited George Mason University for an It’s On Us event to stop sexual violence on campuses. Launched in 2014 by President Obama and Vice President Biden, It’s On Us focuses on raising awareness, encouraging bystander intervention, and creating a supportive environment for survivors of sexual assault.
The event began with members of the GMU community speaking about the importance of sexual assault awareness and prevention on campus. Among the speakers was GMU SEC chapter president Sean McIntosh, ’17.
“It’s on us as members of the Greek community and as members of the university community to take responsibility and to hold our organizations and peers accountable, so that way we may create an environment where sexual assault is unacceptable. It is on us to challenge and eradicate the stereotype that the Greek community perpetuates rape culture. And it is on us as fraternity men and sorority women to stand with and support these survivors.”
“We must also acknowledge that education is not enough. We must be ready to intervene if we identify a potential situation where sexual assault may occur. This intervention can take different forms. It can be as straight forward as helping a peer understand the resources available to them on campus, and it can be as difficult as physically stepping into a situation. Regardless of the challenges or of the situations that we may face, nothing is more difficult than knowing that we did not do enough to live up to the pledge we have all taken.”
Soon after McIntosh’s speech, the former vice president came to the podium to address the GMU community.
“My dad used to say the greatest sin a man can do is ignore the abuse to all,” Biden said during Wednesday’s event. “You have an obligation to say something. This is about truth.”
Biden also acknowledged the opportunity college campuses have to address the issue.
“College campuses are communities, the place where people’s attitudes are affected, changed, and altered. You all have an opportunity to begin to change the culture.”
After the event, McIntosh was among a select group of students and faculty selected to meet Biden and pose for a photo. According to McIntosh, Biden was incredibly excited to meet a representative of fraternities.
“When I told him I was a SigEp, he immediately said that he has heard good things about what we do and told me to keep up the good work on campus,” says McIntosh.
SigEp has been proactive in sexual assault and raising awareness and prevention. In 2015, SigEp formed a partnership with Alpha Delta Pi, called Live Your Oath. As leading Greek organizations on campuses across the nation, we believe that, together, we can make an impact to fight campus sexual assault.
Author’s note: We will update this article with video footage from the event once it becomes available.