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The University of Virginia is temporarily suspending all fraternities for the remainder of the semester in response to horrifying allegations of fraternity-based gang-rape — a reaction that many say is not enough to combat the school’s problematic rape culture.
The response comes just a few days after Rolling Stone published Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s harrowing report, “A Rape on Campus.” The story detailed the alleged gang rape of a now third-year UVA student named “Jackie,” and the immense pressure she faced afterward to keep quiet about the incident, as not to damage the reputation of school or the fraternity. Since the story was published, more UVA students and alumni have come out to share similar experiences, including ones where UVA administrators allegedly discouraged victims from reporting their assaults.
“The wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to reexamine our responsibility to this community,” UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan said in a statement. “Rape is an abhorrent crime that has no place in the world, let alone on the campuses and grounds of our nation’s colleges and universities.”
The school’s response, however, is being met with fierce criticism — both from those who believe the suspensions are far from enough, and from UVA students who think the suspensions unfairly impact Greek life.
One Twitter user called the school’s response “dramatic but meaningless,” noting the suspensions span a period of time where students are already home for winter break. After that, some worry the campus’ alleged culture of covering up and downplaying sexual assault will just go back to normal.
In addition, temporarily suspending fraternities likely does little to assure people that the accused will be personally sought out or prosecuted. Indeed, it highlights one of the more glaring points of Rolling Stone’s investigation — that in the face of rape and sexual assault allegations on campus, UVA’s administrators have historically not gone far enough in seeking out or punishing accusers. Rolling Stone’s report noted that since 1993, 183 people have been expelled from the school for “honor-code violations” like cheating on tests, but no UVA student has been expelled for sexual assault or rape. As of now, the school has not announced any kind of internal investigation into the additional victims’ allegedly mishandled investigations.
As of now, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports that UVA has asked the Charlottesville Police Department to investigate the charges detailed by Rolling Stone.
UVA is one 76 colleges across the country that are currently under federal investigation for mishandling sexual assault claims.