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Administrators: stop hiding behind tradition and student governance

(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.”

This is the dark power of fraternities

(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. He reached across the table, grabbed my hand and said I had to promise him something: that I would never, under any circumstances go upstairs alone at a fraternity house. Yes of course, I said, and tried to change the subject — I was young! I knew everything. “No,” he said sharply. I needed to listen to him. This was important.

Focus on supporting and listening to survivors

(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. And they are not made by single actions alone. They take concerted, thoughtful efforts by all of us. I believe that the worst thing we could do as a community is to decide what we think the answer is without listening carefully to the voices of those women who have survived sexual assault in our community, and in our rush to do something, to do things that survivors themselves find counter-productive. For example, at least one of the women quoted in the RS article, herself a survivor, has expressed concern about how her quotes were used in the article and in the article’s portrayal of Dean Eramo, whom, she said, is a strong supporter of survivors. At least one of the student sexual assault support groups on grounds has echoed this sentiment. I hope we can all listen, as well as take action, in the coming days, weeks, months, and years and keep our focus on the (mostly) women who we all should be trying our hardest to support and on changing the cultures, both institutional and peer, that supports the behavior in the first place, as well as that are responding after the fact. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault and in need of support, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency’s 24-hour hotline is: 434-977-7273.

Create a mandatory course on gender-based violence

(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 terms of how to avoid becoming victims. After its publication, I taught Liz Seccuro’s memoir as one text, among others, for this class.

The Greek system should be part of the solution

(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 has been created to encourage President Sullivan to abolish the Greek system. It is not surprising that someone would present this as a possible solution. However, it does not address the real problem. You cannot solve the issues surrounding sexual assault by abolishing the Greek system. Sadly sexual assaults would still occur, just not in fraternities.

For city residents, fear is prevalent

(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.

Some traditions must change

(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 Stone article detailing how negligent so many members of the University community had been in responding to the sexual assault of Jackie and so many other women, I was horrified by just how damaging this adherence to tradition could be.

The State of the (Rap) Union (So Far)

(11/01/14 8:41pm)

It’s been a tough year for mainstream rap music. For the first six months of the year, the only rappers making certifiable hits were Drake, Iggy Azalea and whoever could afford a DJ Mustard beat. The genre’s old guard — Jay Z, Kanye West, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne — has mostly kept quiet. And many leaders of the new school — Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill, Lil Durk — remain in limbo with their record labels.

Harem pants: The next big thing

(10/04/14 3:38am)

A new fashion trend is sweeping across the nation and, subsequently, Grounds. It’s harem pants. They are in no way new, but have become increasingly popular with male shoppers. If you have seen them around town, you might not be familiar with the name. Loose around the waist and form-fitting around the shin and ankle, harem pants are easily identifiable.

Foxfield Races Edition

(04/25/14 4:51pm)

Dear friends, we have come upon one of the most exciting times of the academic year: the end. With fourth-years preparing to graduate, first-years worrying about finals, and everyone else working on their beach bodies, I am pleased to remind you that one of the most persistent University traditions is now upon us: the Foxfield Races. Colloquially known as “Foxfield,” this tradition proves to be quite the spectacle every year, which is why you need to look good for it.