Magazine Sheds Light On Allegations Of Rape Culture At UVA
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
A story in Rolling Stone magazine detailing the brutal gang rape that allegedly took place in a fraternity house is reverberating throughout the University of Virginia. The university's governing board meets today to address charges that the school has allowed a culture of rape to survive in its fraternities. From member station WVTF, Sandy Hausman reports on campus reaction to the news.
SANDY HAUSMAN, BYLINE: The University of Virginia is a school steeped in tradition, founded by Thomas Jefferson and until 1970, a place that did not admit women. Protests are a rarity, but there have been three in the last five days.
INTESAR TARIQ: Assaults and rape happen at universities all across the nation. However, the spotlight is on us now. What are we going to do about it?
HAUSMAN: Intesar Tariq is with the Middle Eastern and Muslim Students Association. He organized the first rally after reading Rolling Stone's story in which a freshman woman claimed she was raped by seven men at the prestigious Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in 2012. The victim's friends allegedly encouraged her to keep quiet to protect the university's reputation and her own social standing. She did not want to press charges, and UVA, which was aware of the incident, did nothing. That seemed wrong to Tariq.
TARIQ: We love this university. Here at UVA, we bleed orange and blue. But that being said, the reputation of this university does not trump over the safety of our female student body or the student body in general.
HAUSMAN: Some students like Sarah Jameel came to show support for victims of sexual assault.
SARAH JAMEEL: We want to get some real change. We should feel safe with our fellow students.
HAUSMAN: Do you actually know of anyone who's been assaulted here?
JAMEEL: I do. It's definitely going on.
HAUSMAN: Others like Professor Jahan Ramazani complained that school policy is dictated by people with money.
JAHAN RAMAZANI: And they're rooted in the 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.
HAUSMAN: Professor Allison Booth was relieved to see a groundswell of opposition to what she says is a long-standing problem.
ALISON BOOTH: I've taught at the University of Virginia for 28 years, and this has been an issue since I've been here. And that's just unacceptable. The culture of fraternities seems to me corrupting for the young men. I don't think we can kick out the fraternities because too many alumni belong to them, and we depend on our donors. I mean, I'm just being realistic.
HAUSMAN: President Teresa Sullivan has banned all activities at about 60 fraternities and sororities through the end of the year. Tommy Reid, who heads the Inter-fraternity Council raised no objections after reading the Rolling Stone story.
TOMMY REID: It makes me, personally, sick to my stomach.
HAUSMAN: The university has asked local police to investigate. Phi Kappa Psi's national office said it does not condone violence and describes sexual assault as particularly heinous. The local chapter voluntarily shut down after vandals broke windows in the frat house and sprayed painted a new name on the building - UVA Center for Rape Studies. For NPR News, I'm Sandy Hausman in Charlottesville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.