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UVA Students React to Rolling Stone Article

Posted: Updated: Dec 03, 2014 09:50 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

NBC29 talked with a number of University of Virginia students Wednesday night about their feelings on a Rolling Stone article published Wednesday titled “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA.”

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.

Many student say it's emotional. Others didn't want to comment fearing possible consequences for speaking out. Reactions were mixed overall. 

“It might have been scapegoated in some sense because I've heard of incidents, not that they are any at all excusable, but I've heard rumors and things of that being more prevalent at other frats, so I don't think this one should take all the blame,” said Nick, a UVA student.

“Even though I think it does cast a negative light on the fraternity culture and a lot of the people I know and am friends with, I think it is for the best that the article was written and people have to face the harsh reality of what's going on,” said Lia Russell, a second-year UVA student.

“Well I'm really hopeful that this article will inspire some real change on grounds especially how we handle, how the school administration handles these cases, how fraternity brothers view women how fraternity brothers view sexual assault,” said Molly Sall, a second-year UVA student.

Wednesday night, Charlottesville police received a request for extra patrols on UVA grounds. The request came from a UVA frat, although police did not name which one. The group received what police call "disparaging messages" via social media. Police say there were no threats and no police report was filed.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan released at statement on the article Wednesday. Read the statement in full below. Phi Kappa Psi also released a statement on the article Wednesday. To read the statement from the national fraternity, 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

President