On sexual assault: letters from the community

Students: it's up to you

Dear Students,

I am writing you because you are the change agents on Grounds. I am not writing the administration because they have failed you miserably. If you're looking for the adult in the room to help with this mess, don't look at the administration. The adult is you.

The RS article is a blessing because it produces the outrage and the sense of crisis that are the building blocks for transformative change. I urge you to resist following the administration's lead in blaming the article's author for targeting UVa, claiming sexual assault is commonplace at colleges everywhere. These are the tone deaf whinings of a leaderless bureaucracy that threatens to divert attention away from the task at hand, which is to build a culture within the student body of zero tolerance for sexual assault at the University.

How should you start implementing change and how do you know the change has taken root?

Students within Residence Life, the Greek System, Varsity Athletics, Intramurals, Student Government, etc. — come together and commit to change. There exists enormous resources for sexual assault prevention and counseling but this alone will change nothing. When predators know UVa is hostile territory and victims feel the unconditional outpouring of support from fellow students that gives them the courage to file a police report — then students, you will know change has taken root.

This is your time and this is your school and these are your classmates. Jefferson's ideal of student self-governance has never faced a more critical challenge. I wish you well.

Michael Connors

CLAS '85


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