About 700 people rallied at the University of Virginia responding to reports of sexual violence on campus.
Students and faculty gathered on short notice for a protest organized by the Middle Eastern and Islamic Student Association. A member of that group, Ahmad Intesar, proposed the gathering after seeing a story in Rolling Stone Magazine, recounting, among other things, the gang rape of a freshman at the prestigious Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
“It broke my heart, and I just didn’t want to be another bystander who just let this slide on and not make it known that, at least to the survivors who are still on campus, we’ve heard your cry, and we’re going to stand with you and fight to find a solution.”
Most students at the rally were women. Among them Shikha Trivedi, a freshman from Danville.
“I just think it’s important to support the people that have been through this and to let them know that they are not alone. Were you surprised by the Rolling Stone article? I definitely was. It was shocking.”
But UVA alum Tyler Magill, who now works on campus, was not shocked.
“I went to this school in the late 80’s and early 90’s. This problem was there. The problem is still here. Rape is practically entrenched in the fraternity system.”
And Professor Jahan Ramazani blamed university leaders who bend to the will of powerful interests.
“There are enormous pressures, we know, on the board of visitors, on the administration of this university that come from people who have a lot of money. And they’re rooted in their fraternities of this institution, which do many good, honorable things, but have also been involved for too long in making a safe space for criminal, violent acts that we all need to decry and denounce and say we’re not going to stand for anymore.”
Overnight, windows at Phi Kappa Psi were broken by vandals – and this afternoon, Governor Terry McAuliffe called for bold action to end sexual violence at universities statewide.