UVA suspends fraternities until January while investigating rape allegations

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After the release of
an incriminating article
in Rolling Stone
detailing the gang
rape of a woman at
the Phi Kappa Psi
fraternity of the University
of Virginia in
2012, the traditionfavoring
university is
covering its tail.
Convinced, since
the article’s publication, of the dangers
of underage drinking, UVA’s administration
has taken measures in response,
increasing police patrol area and hiring
new counselors for its Women’s Center
as well as suspending all fraternity
activities and associated parties until
January. As students return from winter
breaks, Teresa Sullivan, president
of UVA, told CNN the university will assemble
its students, faculty and alumni
to discuss future ways to prevent sexual
In taking steps to eliminate fraternity-
affiliated happening UVA is
sending a message — regardless of
whether the university itself is doing
enough to prevent sexual assault
— that such behavior as the premeditated
attacks detailed in the Rolling
Stone piece are unacceptable. That the
culture associated with Greek life has
the change.
“They should not violate the rights of
those who live by the rules simply because
they are in some way affiliated
with those who do not,” wrote Peter
Smithhisler, CEO of the North American
Interfraternity Conference, in a CNN
opinion piece highlighting the wrongs
of suspending fraternity activities.
“When fraternity is done right, I firmly
believe it is one of the best facets of college
But Smithhisler misses the point that
fraternity is not being done right if sexual
crimes are being committed within
houses and are going unpunished. Such
organizations should exist to hold their
members accountable for not committing
these disgusting acts — a necessity
too ridiculous to even fathom.
Any community that allows rape
culture to flourish should be held accountable,
fraternities included. The
fact that a gang-rape — that is, multiple
participants in a shared crime — was
able to take place within a fraternity
house shows that the culture of that
house and that fraternity was conducive
to the crime, and that those committing
it felt the risk was minimum.
If Greek culture is making sexual assault
permissible, then it is entirely
reasonable Greek life as a whole suffer
the consequences. Even those who did
not directly participate in the rape, but
allowed it to happen or who operate
under the same type of culture that allowed
it to happen, need to realize they,
too, are at fault.
The bystander effect is real, especially
in sexual assault situations. Knowing
the crime is being perpetrated and
doing nothing to stop
it is roughly equivalent
to giving approval
to the perpetrator.
Think about the kind
of groupthink mentality
that has to happen
for a gang rape to take
place — every person
must be on the
same page, but if just
one person refuses to
participate in the crime, it breaks the
groupthink spell.
One of the skeptics of Rolling Stone’s
story about the rape, Richard Bradley,
a former editor of George magazine,
writes in his blog he doesn’t believe
it happened, at least how “Jackie” described
it. Mainly, because he doesn’t
think anyone reacted the way people
should. Particularly, as Jackie leaves the
fraternity house where she was gangraped
during a raging party.
“Jackie makes her way downstairs,
her red dress apparently sufficiently
intact to wear; the party is still raging.
Though she is blood-stained – three
hours with shards of glass ‘digging into
her back,’ and gang-raped, including
with a beer bottle – and must surely
look deeply traumatized, no one notices
her,” Bradley writes.
This is exactly the issue, however.
The people on the campus of UVA reacted
in a way that is unfathomable
to some, if not most, people. You see
a beaten woman, you react, whether
you are two beers in or 10. The culture
on this campus obviously needs
to change.
Until it is proven true or false, something
must be done to protect the
women and men of UVA.