The University of Virginia is again under a dark cloud – singled out by Rolling Stone Magazine for dismissing or downgrading reports of rape on campus.
The Rolling Stone report begins with the story of a young woman it calls Jackie – now a junior at UVA.
She says she was raped by seven young men at a fraternity party during her freshman year, but friends urged her not to report the attack because it might damage the school’s reputation and her own social standing.
Margaret Miller, a retired professor of higher education policy at UVA, is not surprised. In 1992, she served on the State Council of Higher Education, which surveyed 5,000 students at UVA and other Virginia schools and drew two conclusions.
“That the problem did exist and was bigger than anyone knew, and that the problem was intensified when men got together in groups. The proportion of people who said they had been involved in a sexual assault of one sort or another was higher in fraternities, military organizations, sports teams, etc.”
Rolling Stone quotes another critic, Liz Seccuro, a UVA graduate. While there’s a national conversation about sexual assault on campus, she says nothing at UVA is changing.
University President Teresa Sullivan disagreed. In a statement on the school’s website, she said the university was not fully aware of what happened to Jackie, and she asked Charlottesville police to formally investigate the incident. She also cited new initiatives and policies aimed at fostering a culture of reporting rape and raising awareness of the problem. This spring, Sullivan said, UVA would release a new policy on sexual misconduct and a related training program.