On sexual assault: letters from the community

The administration must own its mistakes

It's not enough, Dr. Sullivan.

It's not enough because of Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham. It's not enough because of Yeardley Love. It's not enough because of Daisy Lundy. It's not enough because of the "not gay" chant that can still be heard loudly during the Good Old Song and home football games that I attend with my family.

With our "THE" university bumper stickers and "I have worn the honor of honors" graduation regalia and secret societies — the university praises its culture of privilege. Over and over again we tell ourselves that we're special because of where we go to school. It's not a message that values diversity; it's one that cultivates hate.

Maybe it's not fair that UVA is held to such a high standard, surely rape happens at all college campuses. But if we are special, then let's be special. Rector George Keith Martin captures it in his November 20 statement stating, “the University of Virginia should be a leader in finding solutions.”

In my hospital where I work as a nurse, as I know is true at UVA Health System, we are scored and reimbursed based on strict criteria including patient falls, pain management, hospital-acquired infections, pressure ulcers, and the use of restraint devices. We strive for this through benchmarking, through task forces built with those individuals on the ground who are closest to the problem; we monitor trend lines; we have regularly scheduled safety calls; we include all the key stakeholders in the discussion, and units are held accountable for their trend lines. We're transparent. We own our data, even when it's not pretty.

I understand that rape is an impossible situation and the territory may be murky. However, the steps taken thus far are not sufficient. Why was Mark Filip initially appointed to lead this review? A high profile attorney, but a Phi Kappa Psi alum and a male. These are not the actions of a university willing to go the distance to stop victim-blaming or to give women an overdue seat at the decision-making table. UVA hasn’t been a boys’ club since 1970.

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that fraternities and sororities be responsible, that UVA administration involves representatives from the houses, hosts formal weekly discussions, drills down into all incidents and gets real about the hate culture. Beat this dead horse until something changes, die on this hill if necessary.

Anything else is an egregious human rights violation on the students and parents who put their faith in you to provide a safe environment rife with educational opportunities. You don't have a university if you can't keep your students safe. It's time for a refocusing.

Though I do not condone the vandalism that occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on November 20, I recognize that this is the result of a community desperate for change. I ask that you please listen to the outcry of your students and alumni. Listen to the national attention that the Hannah Graham case and Yeardley Love brought to UVA. Notice the “not gay” chant during the Virginia/Miami game Saturday night at Scott Stadium and ask yourself if this is the university that you wish to make your legacy. If you do not want this negative attention, be the administration who changes the conversation.

I support:

An immediate revision of University policy mandating expulsion as the only sanction for rape and sexual assault.

The immediate suspension of UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi chapter, and a thorough review of the entire fraternity system.

A thorough overhaul of the University’s Sexual Misconduct Board and the resignation of Dean Nicole Eramo.

The immediate implementation of harm reduction policies at fraternity parties, such as policing, University supervision, or permission for parties to be held in safer environments such as sorority houses.

Thank you,

Heather Saxby MSN, RN, CMSRN, CNL

CLAS ‘05

CNL ‘11


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