Sixteen immediate thoughts on Rolling Stone’s article about on campus rapes

Like many of you, I stumbled upon the Rolling Stone’s article about Jackie, a then college freshman who was brutally raped at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in 2012. Two years later Jackie publicly told her story, and instead of support, she received backlash. As many of us read the story that was published yesterday, you probably shared some of my immediate thoughts on the article.

1. Demonizing UVA and the entire student body will NOT solve anything. We can’t pretend that it doesn’t happen everywhere else. JMU had a similar scandal become public earlier this year, and VCU had one become public last year. Twenty percent of college women are victims to sexual assault and 1/6 women will be sexually assaulted in their life time, and that’s not even including the numerous men who will be too.5909353_G

2. Prestige and wealth do not immortalize you or your institution from sexual assault crises. Ivy League schools, and other top tier institutions have this bizarre notion that they are untouchable, above the law, and that their status as an  renowned academic institution makes them immortal, when in reality sexual assault could happen anywhere, and it does. Once we actually acknowledge the presence of a problem, we can tackle solving it.

3. If you care more about the prestigious reputation of your institution being tarnished due to someone coming out and sharing their rape story- please reevaluate your priorities in life. I guarantee you ensuring the safety and support of your students is an overall better investment, trust me.

4. You choose your friends, choose them wisely. If your friends are more concerned about their inability to attend frat parties or believe that once someone is raped, they are less valuable as a person- you need new friends, ones that don’t consider you a token that can be used as an exchange for admission at a party.

5. Once someone, particularly a female, has sex- she is not less of a person. She does not lose value simply because she is not an object that accrues scuffs and scratches- she is a person, and deserves to be treated as such. A woman is not, and never will be your property, and for someone to refer to a woman as an “it” is quite possibly the most cringe worthy, disgusting thought fathomable.

images6If you think the problem is girls going to fraternity parties and drinking- once again, please reevaluate your mindset. This point is brought up quite often when talking about sexual assault instances, however; every time an instance comes up there are still people who will bring up “well if she wasn’t wearing… if she didn’t drink…. If she hadn’t had gone…” No. This is clearly NOT the problem- the fact that there are people who believe gang rape is permissible are.

7. No, this does not reflect the entire student body, or all of Greek life, or all of the fraternity– however; the spotlight is on the student body, Greek life, and the specific fraternity. It is not up to them to set a positive example and create a movement that will end sexual assault on college campuses.

8. If your campus has expelled students for cheating, yet never expelled a student for sexual assault, please email your administration and tell them to reevaluate their priorities. (Or better yet, create a petition). UVA has expelled 183 students for cheatingHow many have been expelled for sexual assault? None.

9. For those of you who think that the only reason that Sabrina Erdely wrote this piece was to establish her claim to fame, and that it is a sensationalized piece meant to invoke hatred for UVA- get the hell off of your damn high horse. Yes, the piece was meant to invoke anger. It was meant to cause tears, to cause outrage- but more importantly it was meant to cause awareness. This is the job of a reporter, to uncover stories, particularily ones that will invoke outcry and anger from the community. Sabrina Erdely did just that, and I applaud her.

10. The “secret” society that Jackie went to with other sexual assault victims shouldn’t be a secret– it should be an open beacon to all of the community to raise awareness for the issue and create a safe environment for all students.

11. No, revoking the fraternity’s charter will not solve the problem, however; with previous instances of gang rape at the same chapter, it would be a smart and meaningful move for the university. Charters at other schools are revoked because of physical fights between members, they should certainly be revoked due to violent sexual assault.

12. We have to start taking this more seriously and believe victims when they come out with such stories. Putting the word alleged” in quotations when saying alleged sexual assault- or as the university did, not acknowledging the situation as rape, but rather stating “”We were not told that it was rape, but rather that something of a sexual nature tooJMUk place.”- it’s demeaning to the entire situation and all of those affected by it. So much of the response to this article was “where are the facts… do we even really know that this happened?… there is no proof.” Let’s be honest- this is exactly what the men who sexually assaulted her probably thought after they did it. Our society is so hesitant to believe women who come out publically about their rape because they feel as though these women are seeking attention, or revenge, or have some ulterior motive. Such a mindset is the reason that this is a problem in the first place.

13. Just because it isn’t being reported, does not mean it doesn’t exist. We can’t turn a blind eye to the problem just because we don’t have a data sheet that says so and so got raped at this place, at this time and by this person. This is an unobtainable goal and not what we should turn to when trying to understand rape on college campuses. The truth is that one in five college women are going to be raped, and 95 percent of those rapes are going to go unreported. In reality, sometimes the victim won’t come out with their rape until years later, sometimes they never will.

14. While we automatically turn to the university to take action, we forget that sexual assault is ILLEGAL, and should be treated as what it is- a crime. Those seven men are sex offenders- and they will have that on their record for the rest of their entire lives- as will anyone else who sexually assaults someone.

15. Just because the event happened two years prior to the article being published, doesn’t mean it is irrelevant. As stated previously, 95 percent of rapes go unreported and sometimes the victim will never reveal that they have been raped. Whatever their reason is, we should respect their decision while trying to create a safe and supportive community that accepts the women or men who come out and report their rape.B255FAnCYAAlE1U

16. Scandals such as this should act as a catalyst for community engagement and action. It’s not about reading the article, being mortified for a few hours and then presuming your normal activities. This is serious- and it’s time we start taking it seriously. All eyes on you, UVA. Let’s see if you can spark a movement.

Advertisements

3 Comments Add yours

  1. I agree with the things you say. I do feel, even so, that the most important aspect of this problem is that boys and young men are sort of “brain washed” or, more appropriately, “brain soiled” into the mind set of women being sexual objects instead of being fellow human beings worthy of respect and true love. Pornography is also a huge industry world wide and easy access to it is kind of like “throwing gasoline on the fire”. Also, most importantly, I think that our states and nation need to get back to the idea or morality and that a certain basic “code of behavior” – including laws yet as a reason for those laws – exists and must be honored by civilized human beings. Back in 1952, just after winning the Presidential election, then President Elect Dwight Eisenhower, speaking about the Founders of our nation, said “…And this is how they [the Founders in 1776] explained those: ‘we hold that all men are endowed by their Creator…’ not by the accident of their birth, not by the color of their skins or by anything else, but ‘all men are endowed by their Creator.’ In other words, our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply-felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is. With us of course it is the Judeo-Christian concept, but it must be a religion with all men [and women we should add nowadays] are created equal.” Dr. Gerda Wielander (http://www.westminster.ac.uk/about-us/our-people/directory/wielander-dr-gerda), at the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom, has written a book “Christian Values in Communist China” in which she states that “…many Chinese are attracted to Christianity because, now that belief in Marxism is declining, it offers a complete moral system with a transcendental source. People find such certainties appealing, she adds, in an age of convulsive change. Some Chinese also discern in Christianity the roots of western strength. They see it as the force behind the development of social justice, civil society and the rule of law, all things they hope to see in China.” Some will argue that at public schools and at public colleges and universities, such as the University of Virginia, one cannot teach Christianity (I disagree with that but am “not chasing that rabbit” right now). However, schools, colleges and universities (secular private and public) CAN and SHOULD teach law abiding behavior. They can and should seek to teach good manners, civilized, upstanding, decent behavior. Getting a high school diploma or a college diploma should mean that one has been exposed to a certain amount of character building instruction and that one behaves in a law abiding, mannerly way and agrees to continue to do so. IMHO.

  2. William says:

    The only thing I disagree with is number seven. I 100% understand the inclination to not blame this woman, or any woman, for sexual assault. I understand it because they did not rape themselves, and there is a fear that questioning their behavior somehow lets the rapists off the hook. I want to be clear about one thing: it doesn’t matter if a girl walked into a frat party, got blackout drunk and stripped naked, it is still the responsibility of others to control their own actions, and if they fail to do so, THEY ALONE are accountable.

    But I struggle as a father of girls to find a way to address a component of the problem that I feel has been put off limits in discourse — and I feel that you’ve done it here — which is to teach young women that yes, some situations are dangerous and you have a responsibility to yourself to avoid them. It isn’t, for me, about what *should* or *shouldn’t* be safe, but what *is* and *isn’t*. I should be able to leave my front door unlocked at night. But I don’t. And we don’t teach people not to lock their doors because they shouldn’t have to. We recognize that there are people out there who could not care less about what’s right and wrong, and we take the initiative to defend ourselves, within reason, against them.

    When you read these stories or see them on the news, there are a lot of common threads, but some that appear often are, “they were at a frat party,” “they had been drinking,” etc. These things are statistically dangerous behaviors. Maybe they shouldn’t be. I’d like to think that people could rely on others not to abuse them, but I know that in the real world, that is not a sound strategy. We don’t teach our children to depend on that in any other situation–to go ahead and walk down dark alleys because no one *ought* to rob them–and yet I fear that, in order to make a political point, we are teaching our daughters that very thing with regard to rape. We’re not teaching them the kinds of situations to avoid, and instead get angry at the very suggestion that they ought to avoid anything, when the plain fact is that with regard to hundreds of other crimes, we actively promote these kinds of defensive behaviors. Don’t talk to strangers. Lock your doors. Park near lighting.

    I can understand, partially, why there’s a reluctance: because we’re tired of seeing people say enraging things like “she was asking for it.” But on the same token, what is important? Is it more important that we make a political point–a particularly unrealistic point that since there shouldn’t be rapists, no one should have to alter their behavior–or is it more important to help create fewer victims of rape; fewer ruined lives? For me, as a father, I’m far more concerned with my daughters actually avoiding being raped. I want them to take reasonable measures to not provide the sick, inhumane people who are out there in abundance (as this UVA case makes clear) with opportunities to make victims of them. I don’t feel like it’s out of the realm of reasonable behavior for young women to avoid drunken mobs of young men shielded from public view and in a social upperhand situation such as occurs at frat parties. When you look at the situation on paper, it’s hard for me to imagine a worse, more potentially dangerous situation for a young woman.

    I don’t know if you’ll read this and be able to get past the knee-jerk reaction of today’s culture that this is blaming the victim. It’s not meant to blame the victim. The blame for the crime is on the rapists, solely and completely. It is meant as a call of concern for the safety of women and what we’re teaching them…whether we’re promoting in them unnecessarily risky behavior to make our own socio-political points. I sincerely hope that yes, men will read this story and evaluate their behavior, but also that young college women will read it and think “these places are dangerous and I’m not going to give these monsters the opportunity.”

  3. Nour says:

    Please sign the petition to suspend Phi Kappa Psi permanently from UVA; their suspension is currently temporary: https://www.change.org/p/teresa-sullivan-suspend-phi-kappa-psi-at-uva-permanently.

    For more information: https://www.facebook.com/shutdownphipsi.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s