On sexual assault: letters from the community


A moral imperative — addressing the problem of sexual assault

By Deborah Lewis and Jake Rubin Last updated: 02/06/15 4:18am

After a fall semester like the one our community has lived through this year, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s words hit close to home: “In… a free society, only some are guilty, but all are responsible.” As clergy members who work with students at the University, we feel this responsibility too. No one is immune to the effects of sexual violence, which ravages not only individual bodies and lives but also the trust ...

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A letter from a friend: Jackie's story is not a hoax

By Emily Clark Last updated: 12/08/14 3:43am

Fellow Wahoos,

My name is Emily, and I was Jackie’s suitemate first year. I am writing to you in regards to Rolling Stone’s recent statement of “misplaced trust” in Jackie. I feel this statement is backwards, as it seems it was Jackie who misplaced her trust in Rolling Stone.

I fully support Jackie, and I believe wholeheartedly that she went through a traumatizing sexual assault. I remember my first semester here, and I remember Jackie’s. Jackie came to UVA bright, happy ...

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Silver linings in Rolling Stone rape fiasco

By David Swanson Last updated: 12/08/14 3:24am

Rolling Stone alleged a gang rape at UVA and now doubts its own report. I have no knowledge of the matter. Maybe the victim was completely honest. Maybe she was largely honest but too drunk, or just too traumatized, to remember which fraternity house she was in. Maybe she made it all up. I have no idea and hope a competent police department, rather than an incompetent magazine, tries to find out if possible.

Predictably enough, the internet is now being flooded with articles ...

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UVa culture does not make men rapists

By Kacey Hirtle Last updated: 12/05/14 5:00am

As I read the Rolling Stone article, I grew simultaneously incredulous and nauseous. I was beyond disturbed to hear of such horrifying incidents occurring at this place that I have come to love so dearly. I think that the article will prove a good thing for U.Va., first and foremost because the rape that took place at Phi Psi needs to be exposed. We must open a dialogue about changes that need to happen in order to keep U.Va. the place that it should be.

I do not agree with everything ...

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Change will be painful, but possible

By Kathleen A. Erwin Last updated: 12/02/14 6:02am

Dear President Sullivan:

I am writing as an alumna, a Jefferson and Echols Scholar, and one of many concerned native daughters of Virginia. For most of the past week I have been losing sleep, as I imagine you have too, over the growing storm of revelations about sexual violence at UVA.

They show me that nothing has changed in the 30 years since I arrived on Grounds.

While I was not raped at UVA, I had my close calls. During first year I went to about a dozen fraternity parties; ...

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Don't rush to judgment

By Joseph A. Julian, Jr. Last updated: 11/28/14 9:19pm

Like virtually all of the UVA community, I am deeply disturbed by the circumstances in which our beloved institution is receiving so much negative publicity throughout the past week.

First and foremost, my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced the horrors of sexual assault. As the father of three daughters, including one who is currently a first year student at the University, I cannot begin to imagine the pain and trauma experienced by Jackie or any of the other countless victims ...

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Dean Eramo understands how to support survivors

By Maggie Cullinan Last updated: 11/26/14 10:51pm

I am writing to express my support for Dean Nicole Eramo. As someone who has worked with sexual assault survivors in the criminal justice system for years, I have witnessed the effects of her work on behalf of those students taking the brave step to come forward with their experience.

I wish I could say that reporting a sexual assault to the criminal justice system is a panacea for all the ills created by the act. Those of us working in this field know it is not. The same friends, acquaintances ...

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Women of UVa, boycott fraternity parties

By Rimga Viskanta Last updated: 11/25/14 6:27pm

Dear editor:

This is a call to action for all female students on Grounds. You are not powerless. Do not wait for administrators to decide things on your behalf. I encourage you to boycott all fraternity parties until their members act like true gentlemen to ensure their houses are safe for their female friends. From the parties I remember fraternity members were effective at managing who enters the parties. There are any number of measures they could take to make their parties safer ...

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Men of UVa, you must respect women

By R. Scott Krick Last updated: 11/25/14 6:24pm

An Open Letter to the Men of the University of Virginia:

You have been given a great gift. You have the honor of representing the University of Virginia for the rest of your life. The man you are and the man you will become is intimately intertwined with your experiences at the University. You will receive an unparalleled academic education but education is more than lectures and books. You will learn who you are and who you want to be.

Recently, several tragic and horrific events ...

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The University cannot objectively investigate sexual assault

By Robert S. Seiler Last updated: 11/25/14 12:17am

The University's policy on sexual misconduct should require any University employee to report any allegation of rape (or other form of sexual assault) to the police. Failure to do so should be grounds for immediate dismissal of the employee. There are multiple reasons for this.

1) The University cannot be a truly disinterested party in its handling of sexual assault cases. It has an interest in limiting publicity about such cases, since such publicity affects its ability to attract ...

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What is rape culture?

By Monica Mohapatra Last updated: 11/24/14 9:24pm

Several events will be taking place in upcoming weeks explaining what exactly rape culture is, and we should all strive to attend. In the interim, this is a literary update.

“Rape culture” refers to the our wider social culture in which women’s bodies are devalued, commodified, and casually addressed in derogatory contexts. We’re familiar with victim blaming & slut shaming, both highly symptomatic of rape culture. But it’s also the culture that perpetuated statistics such as: ...

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Administrators: stop hiding behind tradition and student governance

By Ryan McElveen, Pat Hynes Last updated: 11/24/14 6:15am

One thing is certain at the University of Virginia: the more things change, the more they stay the same. In the aftermath of the Rolling Stone Magazine article detailing the pervasiveness of sexual assault at the University, administrators have issued communications claiming “contradictions between the U.Va. portrayed in the article and the U.Va. that we know.”

Unfortunately, the portrait of U.Va. that has emerged is precisely one that we could have painted during our experiences at ...

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This is the dark power of fraternities

By Caitlin Flannigan Last updated: 11/24/14 5:56am

Over thirty years ago, when I was a new student at the University, I went out to lunch with a young man I’d dated a few times, with the intention of breaking things off. (This was back in the days when even a short and unserious relationship required a formal exit interview.) He was a very nice guy, and popular — he belonged to a big fraternity on campus — and although he seemed disappointed, he wasn’t in any way crushed. But at the end of the lunch, he did something I never forgot. ...

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Focus on supporting and listening to survivors

By Nancy Deutsch Last updated: 11/23/14 1:45am

Like most of us at UVa right now, I am angry, disgusted, sad, and frustrated. Among many other things, I have serious concerns about how gang rape charges against a fraternity can be known and not investigated by law enforcement, even if the student decided not to press charges. I find that disturbing and something we need to change institutionally. As a community, we need to make major changes, in both our institutional and peer cultures. Such changes are not easy. They do no come overnight. ...

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Create a mandatory course on gender-based violence

By Claire Raymond Last updated: 11/22/14 7:50pm

For several semesters in 2010, 2011, and 2012, I taught a large lecture course, at the University of Virginia, on gender-based violence: SOC 2380. Enrollment for the course varied from 100 to 175 students per term. It was a depressing course to teach, and I was never happy teaching it. And yet, the course seemed to help some of the women students enrolled, some in terms of understanding their situation if they were survivors, and also — a hopeful thing — some in ...

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The Greek system should be part of the solution

By Laura Merriman Last updated: 11/22/14 6:02am

In the wake of the Rolling Stones article there has been a lot of discussion of the Greek societies role in what occurred. Most recently a petition on Change.org has been created to encourage President Sullivan to abolish the Greek system. It is not surprising ...

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The administration must own its mistakes

By Last updated: 11/22/14 4:36am

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 ...

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For city residents, fear is prevalent

By Harry Tenney Last updated: 11/22/14 3:57am

Having lived in Charlottesville since November,1964 and having my family's residence in the University of Virginia neighborhood (just off Rugby Road) I have witnessed some rather shocking and disturbing behavior on the part of UVA students, particularly at fraternity houses in and around "Mad Bowl" and the Grady Avenue and Rugby Road area.

Everything from "streaking" to the out of control behavior during "Easters" weekends. Drunkenness, fights, indifference to private property, disturbing ...

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Some traditions must change

By Amelia Meyer Last updated: 11/22/14 3:50am

I spent a lot of time while I was a student at the University complaining about the school’s rigid attachment to its traditions. In my four years there, I failed to understand why these traditions — the adherence to the idea of “honor” and all that it entailed, the use of terms like “first year” and “Grounds,” the prestige of living on the Lawn — were so important to keep around. None of these, for me at least, defined my University experience. When I read the Rolling ...

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The administrative attitude must change

By Dean T. Janis Last updated: 11/22/14 3:48am

There is a line in the RS article that haunts me. This one line made me literally ill when I read it. Literally, physically ill.

“And yet paradoxically, not a single student at UVA has ever been expelled for sexual assault.”

I graduated not only from the Law School, but also from the Commerce School. Indeed, I was one of the two elected Commerce School representatives at the time to the University’s Judiciary Committee. Looking back, I recall vaguely the dozens of cases on which ...

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