It seems the University of Virginia is starting to get a bit peeved at all the backlash following the now-discredited Rolling Stone gang-rape story.
This past Friday, George Martin, the university’s rector, tore into the media at the beginning of a Board of Visitors meeting.
“Our tightly knit community has experienced the full fury of drive-by journalism in the 21st century — of callous indifference to the truth and callous indifference to the consequences,” he said.
He added the the university’s reputation had been “unfairly tarnished.”
While saying they remain determined to combat sexual assault, leaders of the University of Virginia on Friday publicly pushed back against the damage done to its reputation by a discredited account of a gang rape at a fraternity house.
A month ago, Rolling Stone published its article about a woman who said seven men had assaulted her at a party here two years ago amid an alcohol-soaked social scene of fraternity brothers misbehaving with impunity. News organizations followed by swarming into this quiet town, many of them giving bruising assessments of one of the nation’s elite public universities.
For weeks, university officials were careful not to strike a defensive tone, emphasizing that whatever doubts there were about the account, they saw a problem that needed addressing.
Before reciting a long list of things the administration is doing to make the campus safer, Teresa A. Sullivan, the university president, said, “Our concern with sexual assault was not something that started with the Rolling Stone article.” And she said she felt compelled to state that “UVA’s climate and culture are generally healthy.”
Of course, Martin and President Sullivan are partly responsible for that media “full fury” that descended upon the campus. When the Rolling Stone story broke, both appeared to accept it at face value.
“I’d like to say to [the victim] and her parents I am sorry, and to all survivors of sexual assault, I am sorry. As we said last week, this type of conduct will not be tolerated at the University of Virginia. The status quo is not acceptable. Like all of you gathered here today, I am appalled.”
President Sullivan reacted by suspending all fraternities and associated activities.
But now they’re miffed at all the media coverage. What a shame.