Biden at SU

Joe Biden excites and engages students during stop at Syracuse University to talk about sexual assault prevention

Moriah Ratner | Asst. Photo Editor

Students in attendance at Joe Biden's "It's On Us" campaign stop on Thursday said the vice president's posture resonated with them and made the speech much more personable.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was finishing up her remarks in Goldstein Auditorium when she said she’d be introducing the next distinguished guest. Those sitting on the auditorium whipped out their cell phones and stood to their feet, anticipating Vice President Joe Biden taking the stage.

Gillibrand introduced Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud as the crowd laughed and applauded. A short time later, Biden took the stage to a standing ovation and cheers from the packed auditorium in the Schine Student Center.

Biden spoke at SU on Thursday as part of the “It’s On Us” National Week of Action. The campaign aims to end sexual assault on college campuses. The crowd consisted of a mix between SU students, faculty members and staff. Local politicians and SU administrators were also in the crowd for the nearly hour and a half long event.

Biden started his speech by saying “it’s good to be home” and that got a lot of positive response from the crowd. He shared some of his experiences at SU and varied his tone of voice, which some crowd members said made the speech more powerful.

Caitlin Kearns, a freshman public relations major, jumped emphatically after meeting Biden when he greeted students after his speech ended. Kearns said the human aspect of Biden – sharing personal stories, taking pictures with students and his direct speech – made the event much more powerful.

“I was not expecting him to be able to come down and greet everyone at the end, but throughout his whole speech he was so direct and the fact that he came down to meet with some students made it so much more real,” she said. “It was just really amazing to see first-hand just how involved he is.”

Shelby Smith, a freshman information management and technology major, said Biden’s personal stories and examples of “inexcusable” cases of sexual and relationship violence opened her eyes.

“He broke the barrier of silence,” she said.

Taylor Lang, a freshman broadcast and digital journalism major, said Biden’s posture made the speech more of a heart-to-heart conversation than just a normal speech. She added that you could see the passion Biden has for the subject during his speech.

Biden often leaned over the podium and spoke in a mix of soft and stern voice, getting the crowd’s attention through statistics and anecdotes.

Caroline Cianci and Hannah Carande, both freshmen, arrived outside Schine around 6:30 a.m. and stood in the first row of students, closest to the vice president. The two said Biden’s speech was inspirational and genuine.

Biden stuck around for about 10 minutes after his speech ended, taking selfies with students and addressing representatives from various campus organizations directly.

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