In the aftermath of the release of Rolling Stone’s article, anger has transformed into violence. Phi Kappa Psi’s fraternity house was vandalized Thursday — bricks thrown through windows and graffiti spray painted. The people who claimed to have vandalized the house also sent a statement to several news outlets with a list of radical demands, which included making rape a single sanction offense and the resignation of Dean Nicole Eramo.
In our editorial yesterday, we encouraged the community to channel its anger into constructive change. This behavior, however, is destructive, not constructive. Responding to an act of violence with more violence only continues the cycle we so desperately need to break.
Now more than ever, we need to support survivors. As tempting as it is to lash out against their attackers, this reaction is not a form of support. It is a retaliation using all the mechanisms — dehumanization, defamation and physical destruction — which caused their initial pain. Though the perpetrators of these crimes undoubtedly must be punished, the way to reach that end is to applaud and encourage the students who have been and will be brave enough to speak out about their victimization, so they can get justice. We need to start building, not breaking. Too many of our own community members are already broken.
As a whole, we are already questioning our pride in the University community, given that this terrible tragedy occurred here. We want to reshape this community into one we can be proud of again, but this will not be possible if people are resorting to vandalism as a response to this incident.
Rather than channeling anger into destructive behaviors, we ought to channel it into self-education, thoughtful group discussion and reflection. These processes require patience which may be difficult to find at a time when we are overwhelmed by a torrent of visceral emotions. But it is necessary if we are going to get some momentum going in a positive direction.
We may not know exactly where to start in times like these, especially if we previously have not given significant thought to the issue, or have no basis of knowledge, logistical or personal, on the subject. But student leaders in our community who had already been working tirelessly on this issue before the story ever came to light in Rolling Stone will help to provide us with a starting place.
A good set of demands or goals does not come out of a violent emotional reaction. It comes out of a combination of emotion, research, careful examination of current practice and culture, and open dialogue. Let us combine all of those necessary elements, abandon destructive behavior, and go about this change in a way that we can all be proud of.