Rolling Stone Article Focuses on Rape at UVA

Posted: Updated: Dec 03, 2014 01:44 PM

Wednesday, Rolling Stone published a graphic article focusing on what it calls "a culture of rape" at the University of Virginia and several women who share disturbing stories about what they say happened to them. The article is titled "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA.

The magazine questions whether UVA does too little to protect female students - before or after a sexual assault.

The 9,000-word article details several stories - as told by female students at UVA - of being raped at fraternities and then struggling to deal with both the personal and cultural impact at UVA.

One student says she was gang raped during a fraternity party. A lengthy statement from the University of Virginia released Wednesday night says it has asked Charlottesville police to investigate that alleged assault - but citing privacy laws, the school says it cannot comment on specific cases.

The article goes on to examine rape culture on campus, and what occurred when alleged victims considered reporting what happened. The author calls that "social suicide,” citing her information from UVA students.

The victim profiled in this story commented how difficult it could be to find rape and assault statistics for the university. She claims she was told by Dean Nicole Eramo, head of UVA's Sexual Misconduct Board, that's because "nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school."

The article states that when UVA was contacted regarding the story prior to publication, the public relations team seemed "unenthused" and canceled an interview with Eramo.

In its statement issued Wednesday night, UVA says it takes the issue of sexual misconduct seriously, calling it a problem for colleges and university nationwide. It says it works to create a safe environment for the UVA community and a place where students can feel empowered to take action and come forward with problems. UVA cites the launch of a number of initiatives to combat the problem, including "Hoos Got Your Back" and the national conference it hosted last February on the issue.

UVA is among dozens of college and university under investigation for Title IX violations. That investigation, first reported by NBC29 in June, stems from a 2011 alleged assault.

Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity released a statement Wednesday in response to the Rolling Stone article. The national fraternity says that they remain “actively and aggressively committed to ending these inexcusable forms of violence not only in the Greek community, but across all campus communities at large.”

They also say that the UVA chapter as well as the national fraternity will continue to be cooperative and honest in any investigation that may be conducted by law enforcement.

The national fraternity says it has launched its own independent investigation into the allegations.

To read the Rolling Stone article, click here. Read the statement from UVA President Teresa Sullivan below.  To read the full statement from Phi Kappa Psi, click here.

To the University community:

I am writing in response to a Rolling Stone magazine article that negatively depicts the University of Virginia and its handling of sexual misconduct cases. Because of federal and state privacy laws, and out of respect for sexual assault survivors, we are very limited in what we can say about any of the cases mentioned in this article.

The article describes an alleged sexual assault of a female student at a fraternity house in September 2012, including many details that were previously not disclosed to University officials. I have asked the Charlottesville Police Department to formally investigate this incident, and the University will cooperate fully with the investigation.

The University takes seriously the issue of sexual misconduct, a significant problem that colleges and universities are grappling with across the nation. Our goal is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students and the entire University community.

We have recently adopted several new initiatives and policies aimed at fostering a culture of reporting and raising awareness of the issues.

We want our students to feel comfortable coming forward with information when there are problems in the community and cooperating with local law enforcement and the student disciplinary process. We also want them to feel empowered to take action and to lead efforts to make our Grounds and our community a better place to live and learn.

We have been taking a leadership role on issues regarding sexual misconduct and violence. UVA hosted a national conference on this topic in February 2014. "Dialogue at UVA: Sexual Misconduct Among College Students" brought together national experts and professionals from approximately 60 colleges and universities to discuss best practices and strategies for prevention and response.

The HoosGotYourBack initiative, part of the Not On Our Grounds awareness campaign, was developed and launched in collaboration with students and with local Corner Merchants to increase active bystander behavior.

A number of other initiatives are also planned for the spring. Among them are the implementation of a new student sexual misconduct policy and a related training program, a campus climate survey, and an in-depth bystander intervention program that will include students, faculty, and staff.

More information about sexual violence education and resources is available on the University's website at http://www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence/

Finally, I want to underscore our commitment to marshaling all available resources to assist our students who confront issues related to sexual misconduct. Our dedicated Student Affairs staff devote countless hours to educating and counseling our students on issues regarding their health and safety, and they stand ready to assist whenever students need help.

Teresa A. Sullivan