Joe Bi­den stumps for Phil Mur­phy at Rut­gers

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - FRONT PAGE - By David Porter

NEW BRUNSWICK » For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, speak­ing to stu­dents at Rut­gers Univer­sity on Thurs­day, de­fended col­lege sex­ual as­sault guide­lines he helped cham­pion that re­cently were re­laxed by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Dur­ing a 45-minute speech to about 2,000 stu­dents on com­bat­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence, Bi­den also took shots at dis­graced film ex­ec­u­tive Har­vey We­in­stein over re­cent sex­ual as­sault rev­e­la­tions and at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Last month, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­placed Obama-era guid­ance on in­ves­ti­gat­ing cam­pus sex­ual as­sault that al­lows uni­ver­si­ties to re­quire higher stan­dards of ev­i­dence.

The orig­i­nal guid­ance, re­leased in 2011 and up­dated in 2014, in­structed uni­ver­si­ties to use a “pre­pon­der­ance of the ev­i­dence” stan­dard when as­sess­ing and in­ves­ti­gat­ing a claim of sex­ual as­sault. Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos’ new in­terim guide­lines let col­leges choose between that stan­dard and a “clear and con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence” stan­dard, which is harder to meet.

Bi­den, a Demo­crat who was be­hind do­mes­tic vi­o­lence leg­is­la­tion as a se­na­tor in the 1990s, said DeVos con­sid­ers the old guide­lines “un­fair to men.” He said she and oth­ers are try­ing to con­fuse the is­sue.

“It’s a civil pro­ceed­ing,” he said. “To say ‘You were en­gaged in this be­hav­ior and the pre­pon­der­ance of ev­i­dence demon­strates it, and that’s why you are be­ing pe­nal­ized in the fol­low­ing way.’ They make it sound like what it’s not — putting the vi­o­la­tor in jail. Don’t let them con­fuse you.”

Bi­den called We­in­stein’s con­duct “dis­gust­ing” and “im­moral” and said, “It is my hope there are more con­se­quences, that the statute hasn’t run out. This man de­serves more than to lose his com­pany.”

Rut­gers said this week it won’t re­turn a $100,000 do­na­tion from We­in­stein that’s be­ing used to help fund the Glo­ria Steinem Chair in Me­dia, Cul­ture, and Fem­i­nist Stud­ies.

Af­ter sev­eral stu­dents re­called their own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences of sex­ual as­sault, Bi­den praised Rut­gers for its ef­forts in sup­port of vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault and dat­ing vi­o­lence.

On Trump, Bi­den said, “I know our pres­i­dent talks about locker room talk,” re­fer­ring to the Re­pub­li­can pres­i­dent’s ex­pla­na­tion for deroga­tory com­ments he made about women dur­ing last year’s cam­paign. “They didn’t talk that way in my locker room,” Bi­den said and noted, “usu­ally the guy who starts that con­ver­sa­tion is the ugli­est SOB in the room.”

Bi­den, who had cam­paigned for the Demo­crat run­ning for gover­nor in New Jer­sey be­fore the speech, spent nearly an hour shak­ing hands and tak­ing self­ies with stu­dents, who greeted him with thun­der­ous cheers when he first took the stage.

JULIO CORTEZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den de­liv­ers re­marks re­gard­ing sex­ual vi­o­lence on col­lege cam­puses dur­ing a visit to Rut­gers Univer­sity, Thurs­day in New Brunswick, N.J.

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