On sexual assault: letters from the community

Abolish the Greek system

Dear President Sullivan,

I just read the Rolling Stone article, and am now sick to my stomach. I'm sick to learn of the pattern of sex abuse that apparently runs unchecked on this campus; I'm sick of the twisted, misogynist, privileged, moronic culture maintained by our Greek system; I'm profoundly disturbed to hear of a culture in which even the "friends" of abused women on this campus have a greater fear of not being invited to the next party than of standing idly by while their supposed friend has just been gang raped; and I'm sick of hearing about slick UVa administrators in their blue blazers and windsor knotted orange ties reassuring a morally clueless Board of Visitors that, really, everything is just peachy here in spite of a federal probe into sexual abuses.

Given the facts as described in this article, which your response doesn't question, instead of reassuring the university community and the larger world that UVa is a national leader in the reform effort — hey, we held a conference here! — as the President of this university your hair should be on fire at this moment. Heads should roll, criminals should be named and brought to justice, and efforts to radically reform the culture around here should take center stage. This is a moral disaster of the first magnitude, not just a temporary PR glitch. At moments like this, I am embarrassed to be a professor at the University of Virginia.

I'm attaching a brief article I wrote for the Cav Daily back in the late '90s, calling for the abolition of the Greek system in favor of an expanded network of residential colleges, like Brown and Hereford. Back then I accused the Greek system of being alcohol-sodden, elitist, and anti-intellectual — i.e., a system that really should have no place at a university with pretensions to seriousness, let alone greatness — but, alas, it now turns out that I was barely scratching the surface of the moral turpitude of this shoddy tradition.

It's time to get serious about this. Forget about conferences and white papers. We need decisive action, and we need it now.

Yours,

John D. Arras

Porterfield Professor of Biomedical Ethics

Professor of Philosophy

Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences

University of Virginia

U.S. Presidential Commission on Bioethics


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