Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

UVA's response to sexual assault too delayed

The University of Virginia suspended all fraternities on Nov. 22 until Jan. 9 in response to an in-depth Rolling Stone article on a student who was gang-raped at a fraternity house in 2012 during her freshman year.
The college’s decision to suspend all fraternities is not only insufficient, it’s delayed. After the college student, Jackie, reported the assault to UVA’s administration, no action was taken and Rolling Stone reports the seven men involved in the assault were told not to speak publicly about the event, or risk expulsion.
Yet UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan claims her decision to ban all fraternities for only a month a half and to ask the Charlottesville police to investigate the incident is sufficient. She cites change as necessary, stating, “We can demand that incidents like those described in Rolling Stone never happen and that if they do, the responsible are held accountable to the law.”
UVA’s decision to ban all fraternities, even though Phi Kappa Psi was the only fraternity involved in the assault, is unreasonable considering the other fraternities were not accused of assault.
But more importantly, the college’s decision to investigate the incident with the police only after a nationally publicized article produced public outrage is unsatisfactory to say the least. Telling perpetrators of sexual assault to remain quiet in order to maintain a respectable status within UVA is not fair not only to the person assaulted, but to every person assaulted who attempts to report their assault.
Jackie’s friends also told her the night after she was sexually assaulted that she should not report the incident or go to the hospital because she would lose her reputation at UVA for the next four years.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network’s website (RAINN), 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, and 97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
Psychologist David Lisak conducted a study on more than 1,800 colleges and found that about nine out of 10 rapes were committed by serial offenders, with an average of six rapes per offender.
In order to lower this percentage, friends and acquaintances of sexual assault victims must be supportive, rather than convincing the friend to stay quiet, especially when medical attention is necessary.
The UVA incident comes in light of a sexual assault reported by an Augustana student on Nov. 23 that involved a female sexually assaulted by three males in an off-campus house.
Incidents such as these should not go unreported, and encouragement can start with support from friends, family, faculty and administration.
Students who think they have been sexually or physically assaulted should call Augustana’s Public Safety at (309)-794-7711 or the Rock Island Police by calling 911.

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UVA's response to sexual assault too delayed