The Cavalier Daily
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Fall 2015 Semester in Review

A look at the major events that grabbed University attention this fall.


Jesse Matthew given three life terms

Sept. 15, 2015

After pleading guilty in June to attempted capital murder, abduction with intent to defile and sexual assault of a Fairfax woman in 2005, Jesse Matthew was given three life sentences Oct. 2 by a Fairfax judge.

Matthew has also been indicted in Charlottesville for the murders of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington and University student Hannah Graham.

Harrington disappeared on Oct. 17, 2009, after attending a Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena. Her remains were found on Jan. 26, 2010, 10 miles from the arena on a farmland property.

Graham, a College second-year, disappeared on Sept. 13, 2014. Her remains were found on Oct. 18, 2014, on an abandoned property in Albemarle County.

Matthew is charged with capital murder in the Graham case and first degree murder in the Harrington case. The two cases will be tried separately in Charlottesville, though Matthew will use the same defense counsel in each trial.

Matthew’s trial in the Graham case is scheduled to begin in late June 2016, and the Harrington case will be tried in October 2016.

— Henry Pflager, Senior Writer

University in compliance with Office for Civil Rights

Sept. 21, 2015

The U.S. Office for Civil Rights found that University sexual assault policies are now in compliance with Title IX requirements, ending a four-year investigation.

The report also found that the University did not meet regulations from 2008 to 2009 and 2011 to 2012.

“OCR also found a basis for a hostile environment for the affected students and that the university failed to take sufficient steps to eliminate a hostile environment and prevent its recurrence for the portion of the investigation that OCR completed,” the release read.

President Teresa Sullivan signed a resolution agreement with OCR following the report, disclosing the findings to the University. The resolution did not represent an endorsement of the OCR’s findings, but suggested a commitment to further following Title IX regulations.

The OCR also found that the University did not pursue informal complaints of sexual assault or harassment through the disciplinary process or consider the broader impact of these incidents on the student community unless the student chose to file a formal complaint.

University groups One Less and One in Four released a statement which said that, despite previous shortcomings, the University was making progress.

“Although we recognize the many past mistakes with regards to the treatment of survivors’ stories and reports, it is clear that the University has made crucial steps towards fostering an environment conducive to reporting and comprehensive, fair adjudication,” the statement read.

The University’s revised sexual misconduct policy — which went into effect July 1 — is the first policy to be found compliant by OCR since their 2014 guidance, when they released a list of frequently asked questions regarding Title IX and sexual violence.

OCR called the policy “exemplary” and said the University provided consistent support and comfort to survivors.

— David Schutte, Associate Editor

AAU Survey "Campus Climate Survey" released

Sept. 21, 2015

The Associate of American Universities “Campus Climate Survey,” released at the end of September, found that nearly 24 percent of female University undergraduates experienced sexual assault or misconduct since enrolling, compared to the survey-wide average of 24.2 percent.

The survey was distributed to all undergraduate and graduate students, and more than one quarter of the University student body responded, a slightly higher response rate than the survey average.

About 13 percent of students at University reported experiencing sexual assault or sexual misconduct by physical force, threats of physical force or incapacitation since enrolling.

Despite University sexual assault programs’ bystander intervention programs, nearly 77 percent of responders said they did nothing when seeing a drunken person heading to a sexual encounter.

Based on the survey, only 42 percent of students believed it was very likely that a fair investigation would occur in a sexual assault case. Only 28 percent believed that it was very or extremely likely that University officials would take action against an offender in a case of sexual assault.

President Obama has called for universities and colleges to conduct campus climate surveys since launching a task force on student sexual assaults in January 2014. The University was one of 27 schools that voluntarily conducted the survey.

— David Schutte, Associate Editor

Student Council shuts down for four days

Oct. 1, 2015

For four days over fall break this semester, Student Council was forced to shut down due to an oversight of their constitutional bylaws regarding the Rules and Ethics Board.

Student Council bylaws dictate that the Council must appoint a Rules and Ethics Board in its first meeting of the fall semester. The Council failed to do so, and shut down for four days until a special session was called to appoint the board.

Second year student Uhunoma Edamwen, College of Arts and Sciences representative on the Council, said the shutdown was foreseen by the Council, but was not dealt with in time to avoid a closure.

The new board had to attend an orientation session and take a quiz before becoming officially appointed, and these steps were not taken by the deadlines set in the bylaws.

Due to the oversight, Student Council had not actually met the qualifications for operation in previous years — during the past two semesters no Rules and Ethics Board had been appointed.

Student Council reconvened after a special session was held to change the bylaws and allow to normally operations to resume.

Student Council President Abraham Axler, a third-year College student, said that the special session and the changes made during it were conducted while respecting the integrity of the bylaws.

The shutdown was a frustrating experience due to bureaucratic entanglements, Axler said. He said he was happy that the issue was resolved and the Council could return to its normal functions.

— Thomas Roades, Senior Writer

BSA releases public letter criticizing OAAA

Oct. 7, 2015

In early October, Black Student Alliance President Aryn Frazier released an open letter signed by a number of black student groups criticizing the University Office of African-American Affairs for their policy approach toward the supervision of black student organizations at the University.

OAAA Dean Maurice Apprey said Frazier misunderstood the point and intentions of the policy. He said the goal was to give students more control and autonomy over dispersal of funds and spheres of influence.

“We are actually shoring up their own capacity to have conversations and discussions between themselves rather than take over. That’s what that’s about,” Apprey said. “While I’m pleading for unity, collaboration, they’re trying to split us.”

Frazier, a third-year College student, disagreed with Apprey's response, in which the dean said he believed Frazier was trying to make BSA the overarching organization that speaks to black issues.

“I think OAAA in their response implied that in some ways BSA is ‘colonizing’ other organizations and somehow silences their voices,” Frazier said. “Ironically, he was the largest silencer of all.”

Apprey sent an email to Frazier expressing his frustration at her for not disclosing her issues with OAAA privately, which he later forwarded to The Cavalier Daily.

“In future then, if you read something I have written and you disagree, please talk to me directly. If you take it to the public arena, you first destroy the reputation of the person who gave it to you,” the letter read.

Members of some groups that signed the open letter to OAAA said they did not know the mode of the letter’s delivery would make it public to the greater University community.

— Katie Grimesey, Associate Editor

Rotunda Chemistry lab discovered

Oct. 12, 2015

Earlier this semester, University architects found a chemistry lab hidden behind a lower level wall within the Rotunda. The lab, built during Thomas Jefferson’s time at the University, included a brick hearth and ventilation systems for heating and cooling.

The University was already aware of the lab’s existence thanks to letters between Thomas Jefferson and the University’s first rector, Arthur S. Brockenbrough. However, it was believed to have been lost during the 1895 fire which destroyed much of the Rotunda’s original structure.

In the 1970s, two small components connected to the lab were discovered, but the lab itself was still assumed lost.

Brian Hogg, senior historic preservation planner at the University Office of the Architect, said the discovery of the lab is important for the University’s modern conception of the Rotunda’s original purpose.

“We always focused on the presence and symbolic importance of the library — this illustrates the building's other essential functions,” Hogg said.

He said that the lab will be open for visitors in the East Oval room of the Rotunda.

— Thomas Roades, Senior Writer

ASU experiences leadership turbulence

Nov. 1, 2015

Kevin Cao, University Asian Student Union president, took a month long leave of absence from the organization after the circulation of a letter written by members of the ASU executive board expressing a lack of confidence in his leadership.

In the letter, board members discussed frustration surrounding a lack of transparency, accountability and communication within the organization.

The letter also said Cao left unforeseen work to board and council chairs but still took credit for projects. It also said he was sent over 72 emails regarding the outreach committee he is tasked with overseeing, but that there was “no indication he attempted to respond to these time-sensitive emails."

At the time, Cao said each member of the executive board has different ideas and goals for the organization in an email statement.

"Conflict often arises when different members come in with different ideas on how to best carry out the goals of the organization,” Cao said. “What can result is a disjointed vision — it's a work in progress. We've come a long way and still have a long road ahead of us."

In a statement, the authors of the letter said their goal was to constructively address issues facing the board.

"We are asking for more transparent actions and accountability from our leaders and are hopeful these concerns can be addressed as a community," the statement read.

ASU Advisor Gloria Roh said there has not yet been any reconstructing of the ASU executive board.

"Not all of the ASU organizations were present at the meeting — about half of them were there — and then only half of that half were actively speaking up, so it's hard to say everyone was on the same page," Roh said.

— Katie Grimesey, Associate Editor

Phi Psi sues Rolling Stone for $25 million

Nov. 9, 2015

The University chapter of Phi Kappa Psi filed a $25 million lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine in response to their now-retracted article, “A Rape on Campus.”

Written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely and published in Rolling Stone magazine Nov. 19, 2014, the article depicted a brutal, ritualized gang rape of a then-first-year University student, known as “Jackie,” by seven Phi Psi brothers.

The lawsuit alleges that the article resulted in a heavy-handed backlash against the fraternity, including online threats, vandalism to their house, taunts in the classroom and diminished rush participants in the spring.

Erdely and Rolling Stone destroyed the reputations at Phi Psi in search of what they saw as social justice, according to the statement.

“Rolling Stone and Erdely had an agenda, and they were recklessly oblivious to the harm they would cause innocent victims in their ruthless pursuit of that agenda,” the suit reads.

The suit alleges that the article left a stain on the fraternity that will never completely fade away.

“Allegations of systematic gang-rape carried out in the service of institutional policy are conventionally connected with war crimes and brutal, uncivil cultures,” it reads.

Rolling Stone also faces a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit from University Association Dean Nicole Eramo, who assists students with reporting sexual assaults.

— Henry Pflager, Senior Writer


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