We Can’t Ignore Allegations Against Biden

Kirby Goodman, News Editor

I was 17 when Donald Trump was elected over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Just a few months shy of voting age, I was shocked, disappointed and afraid for what Trump’s presidency meant for our country. Now, it is hard to express how disheartened and morally compromised I feel that I must vote for Joe Biden, an alleged perpetrator, in my first presidential election. 

Tara Reade, a former staffer for Joe Biden, recently came forward with allegations of sexual assault against Biden. Her account of the assault is emotional, graphic and heartbreaking—but the silence on both sides of the political spectrum is deafening. I thought believing survivors meant believing all survivors, not just when doing so is convenient or affirms our existing beliefs about one’s character. 

I’m tired of the excuses that sexual assault allegations are too difficult to prove and that they happened too long ago to matter. Reade said nobody witnessed her assault and it happened in 1993. But she said she was assaulted, and I believe her. 

Our criminal justice system is ridden with barriers that diminish the experiences of survivors and often prevent them from reporting in the first place. Nondisclosure agreements silence survivors and protect the careers of powerful perpetrators. The rule of law ignores the psychologically proven impacts of trauma to deem uncredible survivors’ emotional stories of assault. Systemic racism plagues the system and further exacerbates the disproportionate impact of sexual assault on low income and minority communities.

But Biden is so much better than Trump, many argue. I agree. But that’s not the point. 

We normalize rape culture in our failure to acknowledge the allegations against Biden. A rape culture that disproportionately impacts people of color, low income and LGBTQ+ identified persons—one connected to a long history of slavery, racism, colonization, sexism, homophobia, classism and ableism in our country. A rape culture we know all too well on our own campus.

I’m disheartened by my fellow Democrats who chose to turn a blind eye to the allegations against Biden. Silence on allegations against one of our own does more to undermine what the party stands for than acknowledging wrongdoing.

I’m disheartened by the many news organizations I trust to report equitably and accurately, who have too ignored Biden’s allegations. While many have begun to acknowledge accusations over the past few days amid growing pressure, they waited weeks to do so. The New York Times, CNN, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among others—you need to do better.

We have fallen short of our duty as a country to shed light on these allegations amid a pandemic that has trapped survivors in dangerous situations of domestic and sexual abuse. Lack of acknowledgment undermines the tireless work of the #MeToo movement that has exposed our widespread crisis of sexual harassment and violence, prompted the investigative journalism by the New York Times that put Harvey Weinstein behind bars indefinitely, brought solidarity to survivors through social media and sparked legislation that has begun to reform our broken justice system.

Voting is supposed to make you feel proud to express your voice what the future of local, state and national policy and leadership should look like. I feel far from that knowing it’s in my, and our country’s best interest to vote for Joe Biden in November. 

However, we must take these allegations seriously if we ever want to dismantle the systems of oppression that have allowed for men to escape the consequences of their behavior, while survivors’ experiences are silenced, their voices deemed irrational and uncredible.

The alleged perpetrator in office right now is not an anomaly, but rather the product of a history of devaluing, degrading and silencing women and minority voices. We must make thoughtful and informed voting decisions given the candidates we have in November, but we also must work diligently to dismantle the cultures that have put us in this position—ones that certainly prevail on our campus.