On November 19th, Rolling Stone published a deeply researched article, called A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA, that related the horrific - and not uncommon - experience of Jackie, a college freshman at UVA who was brutally and violently raped over a period of 3 hours by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi frat house.
Jackie had taken three hours getting ready, straightening her long, dark, wavy hair. She'd congratulated herself on her choice of a tasteful red dress with a high neckline. Now, climbing the frat-house stairs with Drew, Jackie felt excited. Drew ushered Jackie into a bedroom, shutting the door behind them. The room was pitch-black inside. Jackie blindly turned toward Drew, uttering his name. At that same moment, she says, she detected movement in the room – and felt someone bump into her. Jackie began to scream.
"Shut up," she heard a man's voice say as a body barreled into her, tripping her backward and sending them both crashing through a low glass table. There was a heavy person on top of her, spreading open her thighs, and another person kneeling on her hair, hands pinning down her arms, sharp shards digging into her back, and excited male voices rising all around her. When yet another hand clamped over her mouth, Jackie bit it, and the hand became a fist that punched her in the face. The men surrounding her began to laugh. For a hopeful moment Jackie wondered if this wasn't some collegiate prank. Perhaps at any second someone would flick on the lights and they'd return to the party.
"Grab its motherfucking leg," she heard a voice say. And that's when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.
She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony, during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement. She remembers how the spectators swigged beers, and how they called each other nicknames like Armpit and Blanket. She remembers the men's heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.
Fortunately, the story went viral. The revelation allowed many more young women to come forward with their stories. Here are two of their stories - see Rape at UVA: Students Say Jackie Was Not Alone for the remainder.
SadlyThen the unexpected happened on Friday (Nov. 21), the UVA administration suspended ALL fraternities and their activities until the beginning of the Spring semester in January, at which time a panel of students, faculty, alumni, and "other concerned parties" will offer recommendations for how to stop these incidents.
I was also raped at UVA in a frat house in 2013. I reported it through the Sexual Misconduct Board at the University and had it tried in 2014. My evidence included texts calling for help, police testimony consistent with mine, and numerous witnesses. But the University still found him innocent. I found Nicole Eramo very unfeeling as well — sociopathic, almost. She later told me she didn't believe the studies that showed rapists, in particular, were repeat offenders of this heinous crime. It was a very negative experience to go through — to be raped and then told that your offender was innocent. I even left clothing as I ran out of the frat house that the University gathered as evidence and it was never returned to me. Not that the clothing was important. It wasn't. The police discouraged me from pursuing it criminally, saying that I didn't have enough evidence to win. They also told me that I should be cautious about pursuing this formally, since court proceedings and news articles related to my case could spread publicly on the Internet. For privacy reasons (I didn't want future employers to Google me and see that I brought forward rape charges), I decided to pursue justice through the University. But the outcome of this process was painful and disappointing. I will never stop wondering why UVA so often expels students for academic lying, cheating, and stealing but has never once expelled a student for rape.
I am so sorry for what happened to you, Jackie, and I wish I had been brave enough my freshman year to report what happened to me. But fearing the very same things – backlash, no consequences – I chose to stay quiet. I support you, I am proud of you and what you did is going to change lives. You are forcing an administration to admit its wrongdoings, and you are getting national attention, which will help to stop this misogyny, violence and pain from affecting more people. I know that feeling like a martyr is never going to feel as good as the girl you were before this happened to you, but your struggle has significance and you are needed in this world.
Here is the beginning of that article, which includes the full statement by the University's President.
In my opinion, the only way this is going to change is to take drastic steps - the Fraternities at UVA should remain closed for the rest of the school year, with the students placed in residence halls are allowed to move into off-campus housing.
"The wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to reexamine our responsibility to this community," UVA president writes in letter suspending fraternities
Joel Hawksley/For The Washington Post via Getty Images - Graduating students stand to have their pictures taken in front of the Rotunda at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. on May 18, 2013.By Rolling Stone | November 22, 2014
Following Rolling Stone publishing Sabrina Rubin Erdely's harrowing report "A Rape on Campus," which detailed a pattern of sexual assault among the fraternities at the University of Virginia, many women who attended UVA emailed Rolling Stone sharing their own similar stories. After "A Rape on Campus" went viral, the school itself acknowledged the Rolling Stone article by promising to make changes to their student sexual misconduct policy. Now, the University is taking even more stern action.
President Teresa A. Sullivan announced in a letter to students and alumni that the school's fraternities have been suspended effective immediately. The suspension will last until January 9, 2015, which marks the beginning of the spring semester. In that time, "we will assemble groups of students, faculty, alumni, and other concerned parties to discuss our next steps in preventing sexual assault and sexual violence on Grounds," Sullivan writes.
The administration needs education on rape, date rape, toxic masculinity, and the rape culture that exists on campuses around the country, but especially in some fraternities. The people who turned a blind eye to these events in ignorance or in fear of bad publicity need to be educated on how alcohol and drugs, toxic masculinity, and entitlement and privilege can lead to these type of gang rape situations.
Further, any future rapes that are reported and verified will result in the permanent closure of a given fraternity. Period.
This needs to be the basic policy on EVERY campus in the country, not just UVA.