What’s Sex got to do with…UVA?

This article published by The Rolling Stone on November 19th, echoes everything we’ve been discussing in regards to sexual assault on college campuses. The article focuses on UVA, specifically, but from our discussion we know that this is an issue plaguing dozens of universities in the nation. However, I was absolutely floored when I read about UVA’s actions toward sexual assault and rape incidents. I’m afraid that UVA is not the only school guilty of this conduct and that’s the scariest part. How many other prestigious institutions are sweeping sexual assault under the rug for the sake of their reputation and funding?

At the beginning of the semester we learned that rape culture links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society, and in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone rape. Erdely’s article exposes rape culture’s absolutely rampant presence at UVA and that on any given Friday night, a walk down the university’s frat row supports this. Again we’re seeing consistencies with where rape culture flourishes–via Greek life. This is consistent with Bogle’s argument in Hooking Up. And thus only further supports Shawnee’s suggestion to implement some sort of sexual assault awareness program that should be mandatory for any students who plan to rush. Elderly writes that, “Studies have shown that fraternity men are three times as likely to commit rape, and a spate of recent high-profile cases illustrates the dangers that can lurk at frat parties, like a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee frat accused of using color-coded hand stamps as a signal to roofie their guests, and this fall’s suspension of Brown University’s chapter of Phi Kappa Psi – of all fraternities – after a partygoer tested positive for the date-rape drug GHB.” Its not a stereotype or unwarranted stigma, it is a fact that Greek life is a huge factor in sexual assaults that happen on college campuses thus prevention methods should be enforced by the National Panhellenic Conference and the North American Interfraternity Conference.

Jackie’s experience on September 28th, 2012, being gang raped by 7 Phi Psi brothers at a fraternity party­ was utterly gruesome and horrifying. However, what was even scarier was what occurred after. Her friends’ responses. The administrations’ response. And Jackie’s own internalization of the incident, which ultimately pushed her to the brink of suicide. When she found her close friends after the incident, one of the girls discouraged her from reporting the incident because then “‘She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.’” Then, when Jackie asked why UVA does not publish a thorough and comprehensive data about these types of incidents, Dean Nicole Eramo said bluntly, “”Because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.” Universities are worried about risking their reputation and funding if they publish thorough and accurate data. This cowardliness on the schools part needs to be addressed.

Just like Gloria Allred suggested in her TIME piece: “Unless there are appropriate economic sanctions against colleges and universities which violate Title IX and the Clery Act, there will be no significant change.” No one wants to send their daughter or son to a “rape school,” yes, but if that school still wants to receive the federal funding that allows it to exist, it should not withhold this crucial data for superficial purposes. We have discussed many times the importance and moral obligation of these universities’ transparency with their statistics so that their students can practice informed consent.

While I am appalled by Elderly’s article I have to remember that UVA is not an anomaly. Unfortunately this has become the norm for how universities deal with sexual assault and power-based violence.

What are your reactions to this article? What do Jackie’s own friends’ (girls and boys) reactions to her gang rape say about our generation’s beliefs and perceptions of rape culture? What other areas of campus life do you feel rape culture manifests itself, since it is certainly not limited to Greek life?

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