UVA

Today’s Penn State Daily Collegian editorial amazingly wonders “what would legal action give the organization [UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi] that they don’t already have?”

That’s right, despite the fact that Rolling Stone’s story about how members of that fraternity gang-raped a student has been thoroughly discredited, not to mention officially retracted by the magazine, suing the publication for its misdeeds would be … “harmful,” says the DC editorial board.

While we understand the fraternity may have a right to legal action, we don’t support its decision to pursue a case.

What would legal action give the organization that they don’t already have? With all of the media covering of this case, it has become general knowledge the fraternity’s name has been cleared and the article has been retracted.

Legal action to clear Phi Kappa Psi’s name is unnecessary. The question must be asked: if the name has been cleared, what is it that the organization wants?

“Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers,” the Virginia Phi Kappa Psi chapter’s president, Stephen Scipione, said in the statement. “If Rolling Stone wants to play a real role in addressing this problem, it’s time to get serious.”

But this statement is contradictory.

If the fraternity is truly concerned about those who have been sexually assaulted remaining in the shadows, afraid to come forward, it wouldn’t continue to drag out this process.

The most important thing to come out of this failed journalism is the concept that sexual assault is a huge problem on college campuses, and false accusations are extremely unlikely. We cannot let this situation hurt and set back sexual assault reporting and investigating.

Let that last paragraph sink in for a moment. A long moment.

This whole preposterous exposition not only believes that Rolling Stone should pay no price for its actions and the fact the frat has been cleared is good enough for its members … but that  the most important result of this entire episode is that “sexual assault is a huge problem on college campuses, and false accusations are extremely unlikely.”

If you can get past that, perhaps even more astonishing is this line: “It [a lawsuit] will show anyone who may have something to say against a fraternity that they have the power, they can sue and they will essentially always win.”

Did the members of this editorial board actually follow this whole sordid tale? How the “victim’s” story was believed, reported on sans numerous journalistic standards, and then whose narrative was blasted across the media landscape virtually uncontested?

Where was the frat’s supposed omnipotence then?

Read the whole editorial.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: minusequalsplus/Flickr

This week, just prior to the Columbia Journalism School’s review of Rolling Stone’s now-infamous University of Virginia “rape” story, the spring edition of UVA’s Virginia Magazine came out.

There is a large section devoted to the “rape” story, and the online version features a lengthy timeline on the evolution of measures devoted to addressing sexual violence, beginning with 1972’s Title IX law.

The timeline mentions the failure of Rolling Stone’s “journalism” in the whole UVA affair, yet at the very top of the page we see this:

An overview of how the University is responding to this issue

“THE ROLLING STONE ARTICLE PUT OUR UNIVERSITY IN THE SPOTLIGHT, and we are using this moment of national attention to provide strong leadership in the long-running effort to improve student safety on America’s college campuses,” Teresa Sullivan said in a Jan. 30 address to the University. “All colleges, the military and many workplaces face issues of sexual violence. But we have been put in a leadership position, and we will lead.”

Indeed. It also put a spotlight on the very real need for a thing called “due process” and a concept known as “innocent until proven guilty.”

Further, under the (Sexual Assault) “Facts” section, we read — again — a common, yet debunked, statistic:

Prevalence of Sexual Assault

The National Institute of Justice reports: “The often-quoted statistic that one in four American college women will be raped during her college years is not supported by the scientific evidence. Nonetheless, several studies indicate that a substantial proportion of female students—between 18 and 20 percent—experience rape or some other form of sexual assault during their college years.”

Maybe a bit of solace can be taken at the addition of the words “several studies.”

UVA President Teresa Sullivan reacted to the Columbia review by saying that “Long before Rolling Stone published its article, the University of Virginia was working to confront sexual violence. Our highest priority is to ensure the safety of our students so they can learn and achieve their personal potential in an environment of trust and security. We will continue to work tirelessly in pursuit of that goal.”

Maybe waiting quite a bit less than eleven months to report sexual assaults to law enforcement would go a long way in reinforcing that “highest priority.”

h/t to Gary Fouse.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

National sorority leaders sent a letter to all sixteen University of Virginia sorority chapters back on January 20, urging them “not to participate in activities related to ‘men’s bid night’ [this] Saturday and to instead plan alternative ‘sisterhood events …'”

This did not sit well with many on campus, however.

Two days ago, the university’s student council passed a resolution saying the letter “perpetuates the fundamental power dynamics underlying the issue by forbidding sorority women to exercise their agency.” (University-speak translation: “It perpetuates the oppressive patriarchy!” Normal translation: “Hey! We’re legal adults! We can make our own decisions!”)

NBC News reports:

The council’s chairman, Abraham Axler, who provided a copy of the letter to NBC News, said the response “is not about people fighting for the right to party. It is a response to what we feel is an infringement on the values of the students of UVA, particularly the value of self-governance.”

… the National Panhellenic Conference had a standing policy saying members would not participate in men’s recruitment events. That point was also made by Linda Kahangi, the national executive director of the Alpha Phi sorority, in an emailed statement to NBC News. “This has everything to do with reminding UVA chapters of existing policy and nothing to do with a lack of confidence in smart, strong, women who are members of the Alpha Phi chapter at UVA,” she said.

UVA spokesman Anthony P. de Bruyn said the university was not involved in the sororities’ request. “With regard to activities scheduled for this weekend, we have confidence in our students’ ability to use good judgment, be mindful of one another’s safety, and adhere to the new safety practices developed by them and outlined in the recently revised Fraternal Organization Agreements,” he said.

Lest ye despair that the oft-cited “one in five women are sexually assaulted in college” figure will be forgotten along with the idea behind the UVA Rolling Stone “rape” story, here’s Daillen Culver, a UVA senior who signed a Change.org petition against the national sororities’ letter:

“I would just like to turn the focus back to people and to the rape culture and how that is perpetuated on college campuses,” she added. “And not only just on college campuses, but in society as a whole … I think we need to address that before we try and forbid women from going out to a party on a Saturday night. It’s just not a sustainable solution.”

Some members of UVA sororities told the Washington Post that they were visited by representatives from their respective national chapters and threatened with suspensions or fines if they attended any frat “bid night” parties.

Read the full article.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

“Taking Action On Sexual Assault — A Student Perspective” is the title of a two-page document containing various recommendations to help combat the “sexual assault storm” at the University of Virginia.

“It is a problem among us, and a problem we must fix at personal and cultural levels,” the introduction says.

Indeed, the document has three sets of recommendations — nine for UVA’s Board of Visitors, and seven each for administration and students.

One of these (for the BOV) is something you might have come to expect: a requirement to take Women and Gender Studies courses.

There is much to learn about our culture’s impact on and interaction with women. Assuring that each student engages with these ideas is an enabler of cultural change. The BOV can: budget increased support for the program, direct schools to create requirement.

Other ideas include the creation of a Gender Violence Institute, an All-Night Women’s Center, and mandatory faculty training “on their responsibilities and how to sensitively interact with survivors.”

But what is most … frightening is the call for closed criminal trials in rape cases:

One hurdle to pursuing criminal resolution may be the painstaking public nature of trials. Introducing privacy could make that path more attractive. The BOV can: advocate publicly to Richmond.

Fortunately, University of Virginia student body, this is the United States, not Stalin’s USSR or Mao’s China. And, American campuses already have a rather sordid history when it comes to holding private proceedings.

If the members of the Board of Visitors have even a smidgen of legal integrity, they will nix this awful idea faster than Rolling Stone had to backtrack on its UVA “gang rape” story.

Read the full document.

h/t to KC Johnson.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: William Murphy/Flickr

Although the Rolling Stone “gang rape” story at the University of Virginia has fallen apart, the apparent ringleader of the attack on the Phi Kappa Psi house — where the “rape” supposedly occurred — remains undaunted.

Reportedly from a family of privilege, the alleged leader “admitted his role and described the attack his friends carried out in details that match police and eyewitness reports.”

The Washington Times reports:

The student agreed to talk to The Times only on the condition that his name wasn’t published, saying he didn’t want police to find him.

“I texted one of my friends and I was like, ‘Let’s throw bottles at the Phi Psi house tonight,’ and she said, ‘Yes!’ I think that the article made it clear that victims at the university have no legitimate channels to take action, and I think vandalism is a completely legitimate form of action when like, legitimate authority is corrupt. I think it was justified,” he said in an interview with The Times.

Asked whether he believed the ends generally justified the means, he casually replied, “Sure.” He also said he is not opposed to “armed revolution” as a means to end what he termed “systemic oppression.”

The student said his group of friends sent an anonymous letter to various news organizations several hours after the attack warning that it was “just the beginning.” The letter threatened to “escalate and provoke until certain demands were met,” including “an immediate revision of university policy mandating expulsion as the only sanction for rape and sexual assault.”

Thus far, there is no definitive word as to whether local law enforcement and the university have undertaken investigations to determine the identities of the vandals, and if there will be charges brought against them.

The purported leader adopted a stance all too typical of college campuses:

The student who claimed to participate in the attack said he had no regrets despite the fact that the accuracy of Jackie’s story in Rolling Stone has come under significant doubt, including the name of the fraternity where the alleged attack occurred. Asked whether he felt at all bad about attacking the wrong fraternity, he showed no remorse and justified the attack on the broader woes of “social injustice.”

Read the full story.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Phil Roeder/Flickr

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.”

The New York Times reports:

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.

Martin had stated:

“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.

Read the full story.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter