Campus rape
November 19, 2014 3:54 PM   Subscribe

"Jackie was just starting her freshman year at the University of Virginia when she was brutally assaulted by seven men at a frat party. When she tried to hold them accountable, a whole new kind of abuse began" Many trigger warnings.

In sadly related news a US fraternity at Edinburgh University is under investigation into threats made by male students to rape members of its feminist society.
posted by urbanwhaleshark (533 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
This broke my heart. Deplorable, disgusting, hypocritical ("community of trust" my ass), and one of the most egregious "campus fails its sexual assault victims" articles I've ever read (how sad there are enough to be a category). I can't wait to mail a copy back in response to the next alum fundraising letter I get.

And for anyone who reads the comments and deplores the shitty, quibbling responses by UVA students and alums - everyone I know who's had a public response to this has 100% condemned the school and supported Jackie and the other victims (sorry if that is not the accepted term anymore...I understand not all people who are raped identify as victims, I just wasn't sure what to say).

One of my favorite things about the school is how vocal we can be as a community, when we want to. If the response to this is deafening silence from most quarters, I won't be surprised, but I will be so fucking sad.
posted by sallybrown at 4:03 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


Current UVA (grad) student, this was sickening. The Greek system has been normalizing sexual assault on campus for 50+ years, it is an abomination and an embarrassment to the idea of higher education. There would be still be sexual assault on college campuses if we got rid of fraternities, but I honestly believe we could cut down significantly by getting rid of them forever. I really believe we will someday, and when that happens, people will look back in horror at the idea that these elitist, misogynistic drinking clubs were school-sanctioned.
posted by skewed at 4:13 PM on November 19, 2014 [57 favorites]


"Don't you want to be a brother?" "We all had to do it, so you do, too."

No. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

Burn it to the motherfucking ground. We're done with this group of psychopaths.
posted by Talez at 4:16 PM on November 19, 2014 [81 favorites]


Oh, and for what it's worth, UVA's President Theresa Sullivan just put out a message responding to the article, claiming that there were details about the rape in the RS article that they had not been given, and that they are referring the matter to the Charlottesville Police. We'll see how that develops.

What I'd really like to see is some solidarity among students, there should be a boycott of PKP's parties, i feel like anyone going to their events is complicit. I wouldn't go to a bar if I knew the management was looking the other way at sexual assaults going on in their back room, the same should apply to fraternities.
posted by skewed at 4:23 PM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


"We have to get her to the hospital," Randall said.

Their other two friends, however, weren't convinced. "Is that such a good idea?" she recalls Cindy asking. "Her reputation will be shot for the next four years." Andy seconded the opinion, adding that since he and Randall both planned to rush fraternities, they ought to think this through. The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie's rape, while Jackie stood beside them, mute in her bloody dress, wishing only to go back to her dorm room and fall into a deep, forgetful sleep. Detached, Jackie listened as Cindy prevailed over the group: "She's gonna be the girl who cried 'rape,' and we'll never be allowed into any frat party again.
Jesus fucking Christ.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:24 PM on November 19, 2014 [98 favorites]


Oh my God. Her friends get worse.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:27 PM on November 19, 2014 [20 favorites]


Yeah, joyceanmachine, that's the point when I stopped reading and went and sat by an open window for a while.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:27 PM on November 19, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yeah, that was what surprised me about this article--I've (sadly) come to expect callous responses from the institution as the norm, but WTF at her friends.
posted by sunset in snow country at 4:35 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I am looking forward to the Ultraviolet folks getting ahold of this story. Everything about it is completely unacceptable.

* smothers overwhelming sense of rage and breathes deeply*
posted by bearwife at 4:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, joyceanmachine, that's the point when I stopped reading and went and sat by an open window for a while.

I had to stop there, too. It's like another universe where "friend" means something really different...
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:39 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


After several breaks, I finally made it through this harrowing article. Of all the horrible things, this is the thing that keeps running on a loop through my brain:

"Grab its motherfucking leg," she heard a voice say. And that's when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.

Its. For those who have trouble grappling with the idea of constant objectification and dehumanization of women, we now have it right here, straight from the perpetrator's mouth. Its.

Now excuse me while I go sob.
posted by bookgirl18 at 4:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [126 favorites]


Re: the second newspaper article--Ugh, it would be DKE. Why do we still have frats?
posted by orrnyereg at 4:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


it would be okay if they all died a lot.

"I wanted to thank you for the other night," Drew said. "I had a great time."

him most of all.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:43 PM on November 19, 2014 [64 favorites]


My daughter is currently applying to colleges (including UVA) and plans on rushing in the fall and I'm terrified of something like this happening to her or one of her friends. The greek system has always represented to me what is bad in our society and it makes me a little crazy that my daughter sees herself fitting into that world. She's an incredible person and if anything she's what you would hope a sorority sister would be but the idea of her hanging out with frat boys makes my fucking skin crawl.
posted by photoslob at 4:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've (sadly) come to expect callous responses from the institution as the norm, but WTF at her friends.

Her friends are 18 years old, in their first month at college. Their acute understanding of the social cost for rape victims and the group ostracization that extends to friends who do not, in turn, ostracize the victim speaks VOLUME about the institutional culture at UVA. It must be as socially encoded and as readily available as oxygen if three 18 year olds who can't even figure out how to use a debit card yet can all, uniformly and immediately, articulate that truth.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:55 PM on November 19, 2014 [104 favorites]


This is so disturbing. Sometimes I feel like we're living in a medieval society with a veneer of 21st century. As kids, my brother and I would listen to Bill Cosby records and laugh for hours - and now I realize it wasn't funny at all. Mostly, my heart goes out to the victims. First, the actual abuse and then the skepticism and then the scorn. They don't deserve this.
posted by McMillan's Other Wife at 4:56 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie's rape, while Jackie stood beside them

I would rather that sentence read, "The three friends launched into a heated competition to see who could call the police first to come and arrest those fuckers while they were still at the party."
posted by Chuffy at 4:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


The farther into the article I got, the hotter the flames in my skull became.

Give the support group a police escort out of town, then nuke the entire campus from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by delfin at 4:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


What the fuck is wrong with everybody involved with this?
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on November 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


In sadly related news a US fraternity at Edinburgh University is under investigation into threats made by male students to rape members of its feminist society.

Yeah, you don't get to import that filthy shit.
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


I read somewhere that the president of UVA responded so I googled "uva rape" in a quick-and-dirty attempt to find it. I ended up stumbling across this site as the second result: http://www.uvavictimsofrape.com, which is exactly what the name would imply. Huh. I assumed it was registered along with this story because that kinda thing is common now, as kind of a companion. Except the site looked kinda dated, which wouldn't line up with that theory so checked it out a bit more. The fucking site was registered in 2004. Holy shit.
posted by yeahwhatever at 5:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


In 2010, "Rugby Road" was banned from football games – despite a petition calling it "an integral part" of UVA culture.

That's rape culture. Fuck your culture.
posted by halifix at 5:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [39 favorites]


This is forcing me to think about what I would tell my daughters when they go off to college. Although it is many years away, I do not expect there to be enough changes in the system to avoid having to have a serious talk about the dangers on campus. Granted, I actually will need to discuss the reality even sooner than that as high school can be just as awful. I think I will be super clear, maybe even have them read articles like these. It is so brutal, and honest, and heartbreaking. I do not look forward to these conversations, but I know they need to happen, must happen, hopefully in large numbers, to even think of changing the atmosphere on campus.
posted by dawg-proud at 5:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Thomas Jefferson must be so proud.
posted by empath at 5:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


On greater reflection, while her "friends" are utter creeps, I am wary of presenting this as "personal failure" rather institutional crimes. This was not just the result of a specific group of sociopaths planning a rape; this was the result of years of UVA administration ignoring (and, it seems, covering up) constant sociopathic behavior. It's just horrifying. I don't suppose the administrators could be charged with conspiracy to abet rape or anything...?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


photoslob, are you going to show her this article?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:03 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, can we use the RICO Act here? Every time I hear yet another of these stories I wonder if we shouldn't be going after the national fraternities and campus administration. Again and again, they spin things as "just a few bad apples", but both the abuse and the silencing continue. It's systemic. Don't just go after the monsters in the student body — we can and ought to put the direct perpetrators to justice, but in order to change the culture I want to start seeing heads roll at the top.
posted by Wemmick at 5:03 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


hat I'd really like to see is some solidarity among students, there should be a boycott of PKP's parties, i feel like anyone going to their events is complicit. I wouldn't go to a bar if I knew the management was looking the other way at sexual assaults going on in their back room, the same should apply to fraternities.


I don't understand why frats aren't prosecuted under RICO, and their assets seized.
posted by empath at 5:04 PM on November 19, 2014 [29 favorites]


basically of one frat boys weren't in college, it would be a gang, and they'd all be in prison. I don't really see a meaningful distinction between that frat and ms 13.
posted by empath at 5:06 PM on November 19, 2014 [24 favorites]


Yeah, can we use the RICO Act here?

I'm not a laywer, so I don't know how much RICO applies, but that is the sort of question I ask a lot about institutional crime in the United States. We seem to give up way to easy on the banks. On other corporate criminals. On organized misconduct in educational institutions. RICO was a law that conquered many organizations that had seemed invincible, if it doesn't apply here, can't we come up with something that will?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:07 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


A lot of Important People have fond memories of being in frats and have a lot of money and influence?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:07 PM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


I don't understand why frats aren't prosecuted under RICO, and their assets seized.

because they are boys from good families. With prospects. You wouldn't want to ruin their futures over some little lapse in judgement, would you?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:08 PM on November 19, 2014 [45 favorites]


Also, that Rugby Road song? Is that actually the school song?
posted by orrnyereg at 5:10 PM on November 19, 2014


I would just like to state for the record that I absolutely do *not* wish to see that fraternity house burned to the ground, the ashes plowed into the soil, and the land so thoroughly salted that nothing will grow there for a hundred years.
So if that happens, it wasn't me.
posted by uosuaq at 5:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [37 favorites]


Also, that Rugby Road song? Is that actually the school song?

No, it's a just a drinking song popular at UVA
posted by skewed at 5:12 PM on November 19, 2014


Fraternities and grandly historic universities have very powerful alumni. It's not just the administration thinking "how many state and national senators and CEOs and highly-placed officials are going ruin my life if I don't suppress this?", it's also the fact that they didn't become senior university officials without having personal connections in the first place.

Because of this, universities like UVA are never going to change on their own, they're going to have to be made to change, and by process of elimination it's very difficult to name an entity that's likely to do it, and that includes the Federal government.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:14 PM on November 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


God, this whole story is awful to read.
Studies have shown that fraternity men are three times as likely to commit rape, and a spate of recent high-profile cases illustrates the dangers that can lurk at frat parties, like a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee frat accused of using color-coded hand stamps as a signal to roofie their guests, and this fall's suspension of Brown University's chapter of Phi Kappa Psi – of all fraternities – after a partygoer tested positive for the date-rape drug GHB.
[...]
Once successfully inside the frat house, women play the role of grateful guests in unfamiliar territory where men control the variables. In dark, loud basements, girls accept drinks, are pulled onto dance floors to be ground and groped and, later, often having lost sight of their friends, led into bathrooms or up the stairs for privacy. Most of that hooking up is consensual. But against that backdrop, as psychologist David Lisak discovered, lurk undetected predators. Lisak's 2002 groundbreaking study of more than 1,800 college men found that roughly nine out of 10 rapes are committed by serial offenders, who are responsible for an astonishing average of six rapes each. None of the offenders in Lisak's study had ever been reported. Lisak's findings upended general presumptions about campus sexual assault: It implied that most incidents are not bumbling, he-said-she-said miscommunications, but rather deliberate crimes by serial sex offenders.

In his study, Lisak's subjects described the ways in which they used the camouflage of college as fruitful rape-hunting grounds. They told Lisak they target freshmen for being the most naïve and the least-experienced drinkers. One offender described how his party-hearty friends would help incapacitate his victims: "We always had some kind of punch. . . . We'd make it with a real sweet juice. It was really powerful stuff. The girls wouldn't know what hit them." Presumably, the friends mixing the drinks did so without realizing the offender's plot, just as when they probably high-fived him the next morning, they didn't realize the behavior they'd just endorsed. That's because the serial rapist's behavior can look ordinary at college. "They're not acting in a vacuum," observes Lisak of predators. "They're echoing that message and that culture that's around them: the objectification and degradation of women."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:16 PM on November 19, 2014 [34 favorites]


Fraternities and grandly historic universities have very powerful alumni.
...and you have to wonder how many of them had well-covered-up 'lapses in judgement' themselves... because the biggest difference between now and twenty+ years ago is that SOME of these outrages DON'T get successfully covered up, while in 'the good old days', all of them DID.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:18 PM on November 19, 2014 [23 favorites]


And let's not forget the fathers of the fraternity members themselves, disproportionately well-placed in society now, many of whom will have been members of the same fraternity and are thus doubly motivated to rain hell on any sitting university president who brings disrepute on, by extension, themselves as well. They know perfectly well what goes on and concerned not to see it outed as vicious and criminal.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:26 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


horrifying.. I had to stop at the friends arguing. I've been reading in tiny snippets ever since.
posted by greenhornet at 5:27 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Regarding the second link and a bit of googling, I'm utterly dismayed to see that at least one fraternity (DKE) is trying to start chapters at a bunch of UK universities, including my undergrad uni. We already have at least our share of problems with casual elitism and bigotry, without importing this fraternity bullshit.
posted by metaBugs at 5:31 PM on November 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


photoslob, are you going to show her this article?

yes. hopefully some of it sinks in. she's heard repeated warnings about frat boys since the first time she informed me she would be rushing. the whole thing makes me sick.

unfortunately, I think UVA's culture of sexual assault is the norm at most large universities. especially in the south.
posted by photoslob at 5:38 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Not sure how much it will do, or whether she was already aware of this article, but I dropped Eve Livingstone, the Edinburgh University Students’ Association vice-president, a line about this.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:40 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


Re: the second newspaper article--Ugh, it would be DKE. Why do we still have frats?


Fraternities were banned at my Canadian university. They were not missed.
posted by jb at 5:41 PM on November 19, 2014 [24 favorites]


The bit about the attackers calling her "it": The thing I though of was the fact that the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs refers to his victims that way as well: "It takes the lotion...etc"
She obsessed over what easy prey she'd been, as the attention-starved freshman who for weeks drank up Drew's flirtations. "I still grapple with 'Did I do something that could have been construed as that's what I wanted?' " she says.
If Jackie happens to be reading this:

NO.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
No woman WANTS to be violently and repeatedly assaulted while laying in broken glass. There is no amount of flirting that signals that some girl wants that scenario to happen. He is a monster. You were lured into a trap. If it hadn't been you, it would have been someone else that night.
posted by Michele in California at 5:44 PM on November 19, 2014 [27 favorites]


Oh my God. Her friends get worse.

Yeah, I wouldn't say it's a good way to separate your true friends from the shocking-piece-of-shit ones, but it's by far one of the quickest. You learn a lot the week you're raped.

It's a sad, crazy day when I'm actually grateful that I was singled out by only one fucking man and not seven. Ugh.
posted by heyho at 5:46 PM on November 19, 2014 [25 favorites]


empath: "Thomas Jefferson must be so proud."

Well, Sally Hemmings...
posted by notsnot at 5:47 PM on November 19, 2014 [17 favorites]


unfortunately, I think UVA's culture of sexual assault is the norm at most large universities. especially in the south.

Excuse me? Do you have any evidence for thinking that?

Sorry, but as a Southerner, my hackles are up. Although I do have to point out that the private "Southern" university I attended was largely inhabited by undergraduates from New Jersey.
posted by duvatney at 5:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is forcing me to think about what I would tell my daughters when they go off to college. Although it is many years away, I do not expect there to be enough changes in the system to avoid having to have a serious talk about the dangers on campus.

Post this as an AskMe and then show your girls the responses. You want to open their eyes? No afterschool special or PSA on late night tv or warning from a concerned parent is going to have the same effect as a hundred different stories from a hundred different women with one thing in common.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:02 PM on November 19, 2014 [48 favorites]


One thing that left me upset even from outside my general feelings of horror and sadness was the author's implied criticism of all of these women who chose not to pursue criminal charges or further reporting. It seems to me that once you report something to a dean - who is already mandated to report via the Clery Act - you have every reasonable right to assume that the university will register that complaint and treat it with seriousness and follow through on it. The fact that Jackie and the other women who were horribly assaulted at that fraternity didn't go through more reporting doesn't lay any blame for anyone else's rape at that fraternity on them. They aren't the ones raping people (obviously) and they are also not the people with the big picture of the situation, and the expectation to maintain campus safety. The institution already has all the information they need, and should be able to, and should HAVE TO pursue action - at least beginning investigations - without guilting a group of highly traumatized women into retraumatizing themselves.

And, given the clearly STELLAR record of UVA to handle sexual assault reports when they are given in a different manner, there is no guarantee that actually having filed full reports in one of the more official university venues would have done anything at all.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:12 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


What kind of heinous satans are at the helm of this school?????? Doesn't anyone ever think: What if this were my daughter?

WTF WTF??????????????????????????????????????????/
posted by harrietthespy at 6:14 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


You know, this whole thing reminded me very sharply of something I'd read a long time ago about the deaths of young women in Nizhny Tagil (again, major trigger warnings). The continent is different, and in this UVA case the young woman didn't die, but the aspect of there being a 'lure' to entice the women into danger was very simiilar and a very significant reminder (if we needed one) of how fucked up (gangs of) men can be.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:16 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Apparently UVA has expelled something like 200 students in recent years for Honor Code violations for things like cheating and lying. Yet not a single student has ever been expelled for sexual assault.
posted by humanfont at 6:19 PM on November 19, 2014 [46 favorites]


The thing I found most disturbing about that was how much I couldn't shake the feeling that the touchy-feelie, oh-so-supportive, mother-hen Dean that they all reported their crimes to was put in that position with an absolute mandate to lock this shit down. The article criticizes her 'every decision is the right decision' approach as possibly paralyzing, and I suppose it could be as innocent as bad implementation of a good idea, but every time references to her popped up, I just had this sinking feeling that she's really there to keep them from raising a fuss.

All in all, this article made me want to throw up in about 9 different places.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:20 PM on November 19, 2014 [36 favorites]


I feel so sick after reading this. How the fuck is it OK that sexual assault cases are handled by secret meetings between cowardly bureaucrats who dole out the most minor punishments they can think of? How is it even an option that a man the board deems guilty in MULTIPLE CASES of rape gets a measly 1 year suspension from school? How can the school get away with not even warning students that hey, there's a frat full of gang rapists here? How can they not be held criminally responsible for withholding that information when, inevitably, it happens again? And why does our society value the reputation of men over the lives of women?
posted by sonmi at 6:24 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


Apparently UVA has expelled something like 200 students in recent years for Honor Code violations for things like cheating and lying. Yet not a single student has ever been expelled for sexual assault.

"In 2002 and 2004, two female students, including Susan Russell's daughter, were unhappy with their sexual-misconduct hearings, which each felt didn't hold their alleged perpetrators accountable – and each was admonished by UVA administrators to never speak publicly about the proceedings or else they could face expulsion for violating the honor code."

Evidently this Fine Southern Institution has a different definition of 'honor' than civilized people do.
posted by delfin at 6:27 PM on November 19, 2014 [19 favorites]


Here's the message that Teresa A. Sullivan, UVA President, wrote in response to the article that skewed mentioned upthread.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:28 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Incidentally, I just sent this article to my little brother, who is an EMT, student, and in charge of a group of freshmen at a military academy. The more people - especially young men - who read this, the better).
posted by ChuraChura at 6:28 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't understand the American obsession with bullshit fraternities/sororities. Is this a thing in other countries?

Also,

I don't understand why frats aren't prosecuted under RICO, and their assets seized.

BINGO. Hit them in the fucking pocketbook. Sadly, I think that's the only thing that'll work.

So angry right now.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 6:29 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


the touchy-feelie, oh-so-supportive, mother-hen Dean that they all reported their crimes to was put in that position with an absolute mandate to lock this shit down

Almost certainly the case, yes. At least a couple of relatively powerful academic women that I know (among the many who've told or hinted at horrifying coverup stories) have turned down jobs like that for exactly this reason. Or, what amounts to the same thing, warmly welcomed the feelers for the administrative job while being explicit up front that they wouldn't be a party to covering up sexual assault, and after that the job offer, you know, just somehow never came through. No one ever, ever says this kind of thing outright but on some level it's well known to be a part of the rules of being a "team player" in the vicious club that is the upper levels of administration in the corporatized university.
posted by RogerB at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [20 favorites]


Sorry, but as a Southerner, my hackles are up. Although I do have to point out that the private "Southern" university I attended was largely inhabited by undergraduates from New Jersey.

Whether or not it has anything to do with the culture of the South, it's a fact that the frattiest schools have the worst cultures, and Southern schools tend to be the frattiest (SEC! SEC! etc.)
posted by vogon_poet at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


How is it even an option that a man the board deems guilty in MULTIPLE CASES of rape gets a measly 1 year suspension from school?

No, see, those *other* rapes were just hearsay. All they deemed him guilty of was one rape.

For which the appropriate punishment is clearly 1 year suspension from school.

Obviously.

I mean, what else would even be on the table?

If it wasn't that, they'd have to do nothing, and clearly they couldn't do nothing.

I mean, except in all the cases where they do nothing, of course.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:39 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


A rape is not as dishonorable as cheating on a test, it seems, and so cannot merit expulsion.
posted by rtha at 6:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


You wouldn't want to ruin their futures over some little lapse in judgement, would you?

I'm actually totally okay with 'ruining' their futures. We have enough immature boys in positions of power from 'good families.' We can afford to weed out the bottom 80% and we'll still be okay.
posted by Fuka at 6:44 PM on November 19, 2014 [31 favorites]


From President Sullivan's statement: "We have been taking a leadership role on issues regarding sexual misconduct and violence. U.Va. hosted a national conference on this topic in February 2014. “Dialogue at U.Va.: Sexual Misconduct Among College Students” brought together national experts and professionals from approximately 60 colleges and universities to discuss best practices and strategies for prevention and response."

Oh, well, they had a conference! So you know they mean business.
posted by orrnyereg at 6:50 PM on November 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


Sounds like they need a conference on Bureaucratic Misconduct Among College Administrators.
posted by eviemath at 6:52 PM on November 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


I started reading this right before one of my classes started and had to go sit out in the hall for a little while. Im probably a terrible person, but the worst part (for me in my ivory tower of not being gang raped) was not the story of the assault itself (people get killed and attacked all the time), but how her "friends" and faculty reacted. The proper response is not to quibble about how I might be seen for sticking up for her (oh no, Im forever the guy to stood up for my friend after they were brutally violated), but to burn the fucking frat house to the ground.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 6:58 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


The thing I found most disturbing about that was how much I couldn't shake the feeling that the touchy-feelie, oh-so-supportive, mother-hen Dean that they all reported their crimes to was put in that position with an absolute mandate to lock this shit down.

Yeah, that bothered me too, and so does the UVA President Teresa Sullivan. I thought one of the big ideas of second-wave feminism was that if women could break the glass ceiling and become part of the higher management of institutions like universities, they wouldn't put up with this shit anymore, they'd be in a position of power to do something about it. And yet, it seems like even when they become university presidents they all "go native" and become invested in protecting their institutions from liability, by suppressing reporting of rapes. Even my alma mater's president has actively suppressed reports of rapes by athletes, and even said that rape cannot be prevented because it is "human nature." Again, this is a woman president of a university with a prominent Women's Studies faculty and considered one of the most LGBT-friendly campuses in the US.

Oh, well, they had a conference! So you know they mean business.

Next step is the Blue Ribbon Commission.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:59 PM on November 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


I am not sure which makes me sadder:
that with the exception of one sentence, nothing in this article surprised me;
or the sentence itself: (Jackie was mortified to learn later that Eramo had shared her identity with another UVA administrator.)

I just had this sinking feeling that she's really there to keep them from raising a fuss.

Yeah.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]



Here's the message that Teresa A. Sullivan, UVA President, wrote in response to the article that skewed mentioned upthread.


That's a really weak response, surprisingly so given how scathing the article is and the national prominence of this issue currently.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm actually totally okay with 'ruining' their futures. We have enough immature boys in positions of power from 'good families.' We can afford to weed out the bottom 80% and we'll still be okay.

So much of what's wrong with America is captured by "enough immature boys in positions of power from 'good families'"
posted by clockzero at 7:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [27 favorites]


My former sister-in-law has her own story.

She is one of the brightest people you'd ever meet, reporter, extra on Law and Order, lovely wife and mom, going for her PhD.

Yet this ugly thing was hovering in her background. And she volunteered on rape hotlines as well. I think this would have been what, 25-30 years ago?

This stuff has been going on a long time. When I was a Freshman, they had parties, designed to get girls into the houses. I went to one or two and left, but I remember a few girls who got lost in the mayhem. It's pretty ugly stuff. I remember dressing like a punk rocker on Halloween, in my dance tights, with a long men's dress shirt on top, and short boots... you know, to be like Olivia Newton John or some female punk rocker. Big hair.

The next day, I was eating in a cafeteria that wasn't tied to my hall and some guys came up to me. "Were you the girl dressed like a punk rocker?" I was nonplussed. It was Halloween, and a large campus, yet these guys had noticed me. After that, I kept to my classes and my dorm, dating a cousin of my roommate for safety, until I felt confident to date someone else in the next term. It was creepy as hell. 1982.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:10 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I haven't figured out if I believe in ruining futures, but some people's presents do need ruining.
posted by uosuaq at 7:14 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Evidently this Fine Southern Institution has a different definition of 'honor' than civilized people do.

The Southern code of honor was never about civilization, but allowing those at the top of the hierarchy to feel full of moral self-regard while preying on the weak.
posted by jonp72 at 7:15 PM on November 19, 2014 [30 favorites]


Wow, I got halfway through and can't do the rest of the article right now. Just ... blinding rage. How? How is this possible and acceptable and routine, even today?
posted by RedOrGreen at 7:16 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


This was really familiar to me - but I knew I hadn't read it before. And then I realised, Law & Order SVU Season 14, Episode 20, including the female Dean who talks the girls out of reporting the rapes. A user review states "Although this is a good SVU episode, the college theme of rape on the campus is getting a bit thin. There must be about 5 or 6 show[s] with this same setting and plot elements in the SVU annals."
posted by b33j at 7:17 PM on November 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


A rapist ruins their own future when the commit the rape. The only future worth any sympathy is the victim's.
posted by Catblack at 7:21 PM on November 19, 2014 [36 favorites]


I was at Brown University in the early 1990s when a group of women called The Committee of Four had to "publish" a list of rapists in the bathroom of the Rockefeller Library in order to get the university to pay attention. This has been going on way too long.
posted by jonp72 at 7:22 PM on November 19, 2014 [23 favorites]


I find the tone of the article, taken together with the online comments, kind of interesting to think about. The article seems very deliberately crafted to shame and puncture the facade of this proud, self-conscious institution. Clearly, it hit a raw nerve for the many UVA students writing in simultaneously to sympathize with the woman in the article and try to downplay the overall horror-laden characterization of the place.

The article seems to have been trying, among other things, to activate the strong identification its students feel toward the place. It attempts to harness that protective instinct of those belonging to the institution and compel them to more aggressively root out those monsters sharing it with them.

Unfortunately, from what I can tell from the comments, rather than owning the problem and finding the extra motivation to double down on ending it, the protective group instinct seems to have just activated the 'circle the wagons' impulse.
posted by eagle-bear at 7:40 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you want to know what rape culture looks like, you don't look (solely) at the rapists. You look at the rape victim's friends (or "friends") and you look at the school administrators in this story. That's what rape culture looks like.
posted by mhum at 7:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [36 favorites]


When I was at SFSU in the mid 70s there might have been frats, but I was unaware of them. I assumed then they were something from the 50s that had died out.

I'm less naive now. UC Berkeley had a death at a frat last week (still under investigation.) I constantly read about frat-related transgressions. I'm with pretty much everyone here: Why are they allowed to continue? Why does any university condone the continued existence of what is apparently a breeding ground for truly reprehensible behavior?
posted by cccorlew at 7:42 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Because many of their biggest alumnae donors were in frats.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:46 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


jonp72: "I was at Brown University in the early 1990s when a group of women called The Committee of Four had to "publish" a list of rapists in the bathroom of the Rockefeller Library in order to get the university to pay attention. This has been going on way too long."

When I read this, I thought "1990s? Didn't this just happen?" As it turns out, basically the same thing happened earlier this year at Columbia, possibly inspired by the earlier Brown list.
posted by mhum at 7:47 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I finally found the link to address this:

Yeah, can we use the RICO Act here? Every time I hear yet another of these stories I wonder if we shouldn't be going after the national fraternities and campus administration.

That is exactly why fraternities exist, to shield themselves and the universities from legal responsibility and liability. This was discussed previously, when an article about this topic appeared in The Atlantic.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:49 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


I could not fucking read this.
posted by Evstar at 8:01 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


One thing that left me upset even from outside my general feelings of horror and sadness was the author's implied criticism of all of these women who chose not to pursue criminal charges or further reporting.

Yeah, this article got really victim-blamey near the end, implying that the university's hands were tied unless Jackie filed a complaint. Except then the university somehow magically was able to investigate the fraternity without a formal complaint, so the implication was bullshit.

I want more sexual assault survivors to report, but I absolutely understand why many do not. University administrators may be horrible, the police may be horrible, the DA may be horrible, the defense attorney will be horrible, the survivors' friends and family and classmates and co-workers may all be horrible. There is a huge cost to reporting, even just to university sources, in a rape culture. People should stop making shitty implications that the reason rape keeps happening is because survivors aren't reporting -- rape keeps happening because the people responsible for taking reports are shitty to survivors.
posted by jaguar at 8:04 PM on November 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


If you want to know what rape culture looks like, you don't look (solely) at the rapists. You look at the rape victim's friends (or "friends") and you look at the school administrators in this story.

And if you want to know why having a woman as university president is not necessarily an indicator of change, you must look at the Board which is her boss and reflects the true values of the organization.
posted by Anitanola at 8:07 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know what the answer is. I hope the outrage spreads far and wide and people just refuse to go to institutions with such a strong frat culture. This shit needs to stop. Thousands of dollars spent for the pleasure of attending a fucking rape ghetto.

The whole education industry needs to change. It's clearly broken and has been for a long time.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 8:09 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


UVA is a rape school. UVA's Greek system perpetuates rape culture. I could have told you that 30 years ago. I grew up in Charlottesville and I knew this when I was in high school. There's nothing new about this, except for maybe the federal investigation.

UVA does change over time, despite what everyone thinks Mr. Jefferson would have wanted, but very slowly. I hope this article and the federal investigation make some difference before another hundred women are raped in frat basements there.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:21 PM on November 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Frats are often the sole option for an underage drinker looking to party, since bars are off-limits, sororities are dry and first-year students don't get many invites to apartment soirees.

Uh, why?
posted by carrienation at 8:22 PM on November 19, 2014


A lot of national sororities require their chapters to be dry. Nice young ladies don't drink, I guess. At home, anyway. Or at least don't host parties that have alcohol.
posted by rtha at 8:28 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


...their assets seized

HAHAHAHA! Asset forfeiture is for *poor* people.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:35 PM on November 19, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'd be in jail for murder if this was my daughter.



.
posted by buzzman at 9:04 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


A lot of national sororities require their chapters to be dry. Nice young ladies don't drink, I guess. At home, anyway. Or at least don't host parties that have alcohol.

I think it's less about being ladylike and more about the fact that sororities aren't as rich as frats and aren't as cavalier about the prospect of litigation in the event that a sister or her guest gets into drink-related strife under the sorority's care.
posted by gingerest at 9:11 PM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Joan Smith's book Misogyny has this great essay about how the oral culture of military songs, provided a culture that gave men permission to rape women. That it normed the practice. I am convinced that the football/frat rituals do the same thing in American schools. That it is considered an initatiian, that they mock the one person who could not be erect, that that person used a bottle as a modified phallus--all of that is more evidence that rape is about using women to cement the power of men together.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:19 PM on November 19, 2014 [26 favorites]


Can I just say - I'm really glad my fraternity ran itself like a commune? We weren't perfect, but you would have been tossed out on your ear in 20 seconds for any of this shit. (another difference was that we all lived in the house and there was none of this - hang out and only be here for the parties aspect that many of the bigger schools have - so if we truly fucked up, there were 50 dudes looking at being on the street.) Our worst offenses were stupid drinking activities.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:20 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


rtha: A lot of national sororities require their chapters to be dry. Nice young ladies don't drink, I guess. At home, anyway. Or at least don't host parties that have alcohol.

Sororities not only didn't host these kinds of open parties but were expected to act as a fig leaf veneer of morality. When I was at undergrad in the pre-instant messaging era, I found myself chatting over the school VAX phone utility with a girl whose position on the greek council was to go around to the fraternity parties to ensure that there were snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and no underage persons present.

Its clear that she didn't stay longer than the first five minutes before the house was overrun by freshman waving five dollar bills.
posted by dr_dank at 9:36 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, can we use the RICO Act here?

No.
posted by jpe at 10:50 PM on November 19, 2014


I've been sitting here trying to find words to express what I think about this article, and it took me a while to realize it doesn't matter.

The entire university should be shut down. Just gone. They have abdicated their responsibilities to the students under their care and they should no longer receive accreditation or funding. Then go to the next university with these complaints, and say "You have until the end of the school year to address every complaint and remove all the fraternities or you're not reopening in September." And the next, and the next, and the next.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:53 PM on November 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised people aren't founding universities that dispense with the various cancers of the college system; frats, sports above the club level, and corporate meddling in the curriculum. Sure, they'd lose some funding sources, but keeping all of those programs happy costs a lot of money too (more than it makes, at least for sports the majority of the time) and they'd probably have loads of students who didn't want to deal with any of that crap.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:37 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


My undergraduate had no frats, no football, and ultimate frisbee was the most popular intramural sport. It can be done!

The undergrad student association has consistently refused to recognize frats at general member meetings over the years, most recently in 2010, and it was a major issue every general meeting when i attended in the 80s. Non-recogmition by the student organization blocks them from using campus services or obtaining club money. They still exist but they don't have a big presence.

This is in Canada (UVic) where student associations have significant control over campus non-academic activities, and are independent of the universities. I don't get the sense that US student associations have the same clout or role on campus, but I could be wrong, and it just seems weird to me that any university administration would support frats!
posted by chapps at 12:01 AM on November 20, 2014 [11 favorites]


Frats are often the sole option for an underage drinker looking to party, since bars are off-limits, sororities are dry and first-year students don't get many invites to apartment soirees.

Uh, why?
posted by carrienation at 8:22 PM on November 19 [+] [!]


Eponysterical!

I'm surprised people aren't founding universities that dispense with the various cancers of the college system; frats, sports above the club level, and corporate meddling in the curriculum. Sure, they'd lose some funding sources, but keeping all of those programs happy costs a lot of money too (more than it makes, at least for sports the majority of the time) and they'd probably have loads of students who didn't want to deal with any of that crap.

Right because founding a university is just like opening an etsy storefront
posted by kagredon at 12:09 AM on November 20, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised people aren't founding universities that dispense with the various cancers of the college system; frats, sports above the club level, and corporate meddling in the curriculum.

The claremont colleges are pretty good for this, though it's a group of small colleges, not a university.

(There was a very small frarority presence, but it really was small, and not on all the campuses)
posted by flaterik at 12:19 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not sure how much it will do, or whether she was already aware of this article, but I dropped Eve Livingstone, the Edinburgh University Students’ Association vice-president, a line about this.

EUSA are very aware - here's an article from the UK-wide student paper, The Student:

The news was met with disgust on campus, with the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) swiftly issuing a statement by the Vice President Societies and Activities (VPSA) Eve Livingston. Livingston also reported the matter to the University Secretary, Sarah Smith.

I work at Edinburgh and was appalled to read about this yesterday, as I expect the vast majority of staff and students here would be. This was the worst part for me:

A source within the fraternity told The Student that members had also discussed planning and rolling out a free “service” called “Phone a Deke”, whereby women not wishing to walk home unaccompanied following nights out could enlist a DKE-AS member to walk them home. According to the source, members joked about taking advantage of the women, some of whom would be intoxicated and vulnerable following a night of alcohol consumption. These alleged conversations are not recorded in the minutes.
posted by rory at 2:00 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


The entire university should be shut down. Just gone. They have abdicated their responsibilities to the students under their care and they should no longer receive accreditation or funding.

Universities and college go through a lot of effort in making sure the staff and faculty (1) are kept unaware and untrained of their responsibilities and duties, and 2) covering shit up because their ( non-existent ) training doesn't cover properly acknowledging and resolving these things.

Consider my experience at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. The Information Security Officer -- legally responsible for implementation and compliance with the official Information Security Policy (NYPL S 10.15 defines "Public Servant") -- wasn't doing her job and by refraining from performing her duties committed acts of Official Misconduct in violation of New York Law.

I don't know why the Information Security Officer was sabotaging the college's compliance, if she was stealing money, stealing computers, or just changing grades for money, but when I tried to comply with my duties under the same Information Security Policy, she wanted me to join her cover up, and when I refused and documented my concerns to the Director of HR ( requesting a response ), HR did nothing and helped her abuse administrative process to fire me.

So, that "ignorance" doesn't appear to be accidental, but rather strategic.
posted by mikelieman at 2:08 AM on November 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


We already have at least our share of problems with casual elitism and bigotry, without importing this fraternity bullshit.

Yup, not at all surprising that DKE is starting off in top research Oxbridge/London/Russell Group type institutions. Unsurprising yet terrifying nonetheless. I can see the frat culture intersecting with the worst tendencies in undergraduate sports team cultures in the worst possible way.

I never knew that a lot of sororities were dry. While UK campuses have their fair share of issues surrounding rape and rape culture, the ability to go and have a drink legally in the campus bars, pubs, and student residences means that the social lives of UK undergrads are not limited to wherever has a keg.
posted by dumdidumdum at 3:18 AM on November 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


Why are they allowed to continue? Why does any university condone the continued existence of what is apparently a breeding ground for truly reprehensible behavior?

I assume it is at least in part because Greek affiliation is a HUGE alumni fundraising driver. If you join the Greek system on a campus where Greek life dominates (and, I suspect, even if it doesn't) your memories of college are bound inextricably with your memories of your membership in a sorority or fraternity. It dominates your undergrad life. A happy Greek life is a happy undergrad life, and happy undergrads make generous, nostalgic alumni donors. Greek alumni give to their alma maters at a rate significantly higher than their non-Greek classmates:

- Greek members on average donate more than four times as much to their respective universities as alumni than do non greeks.

- As Alumni, Greeks give approximately 75% of all money donated to universities.


Source. Study [PDF].
posted by DarlingBri at 3:36 AM on November 20, 2014 [11 favorites]


My undergrad had no football and very few frats and yet I was still assaulted by a student who, thankfully, was so high that he couldn't move quickly enough to rape me.

I don't think changing frat culture is enough. My university brought me into a meeting regarding my assault and there he was, the boy who did it, sitting at the far end of a conference table, smirking at me. My father almost killed him.

I was thinking about the research I'll do when my daughter gets ready for college. I wonder if there's a site that details a list of universities and colleges that are safe for women? Probably a small list.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 3:46 AM on November 20, 2014 [10 favorites]


I assume it is at least in part because Greek affiliation is a HUGE alumni fundraising driver. If you join the Greek system on a campus where Greek life dominates (and, I suspect, even if it doesn't) your memories of college are bound inextricably with your memories of your membership in a sorority or fraternity. It dominates your undergrad life. A happy Greek life is a happy undergrad life, and happy undergrads make generous, nostalgic alumni donors. Greek alumni give to their alma maters at a rate significantly higher than their non-Greek classmates:

This is a big part of it, yes, and universities today are as much large fundraising apparatuses as they are educational institutions. More broadly, universities trade on reputation, and anything damaging to the brand is seen as a profound threat to the institution itself. Thus you get a lot of CYA maneuvering on the part of the admins (and admin-friendly faculty).

So, that "ignorance" doesn't appear to be accidental, but rather strategic.

Well, yes. This is the entire point of most large, established institutional cultures. We've known that since at least 1911. And again, the steady erosion of public funding, the tradition of opacity in the university, and the equally steady tradition of anti-intellectualism in the U.S. means that the university's institutional culture perceives itself less and less in terms of providing a public service and more and more in terms of surviving and thriving qua institution.

So you don't push back against the alumni donor network, you don't push any initiatives that might make your prospective student-clients feel judged or uncomfortable, and you don't let anything out that might make for bad PR and hurt any of the people managing the institution. And if that means sacrificing the safety and dignity of young women, well, as long as you can diffuse responsibility enough that no one person has to feel any actual guilt or acknowledge that cost....

Besides, it's not like CEOs, bankers, elected officials, or generals go to jail or lose their jobs because of life-destroying institutional malfeasance. And hey, those first three categories cover the previous professional experience of your board of trustees and your university's president described right there.
posted by kewb at 3:48 AM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Greek members on average donate more than four times as much to their respective universities as alumni than do non greeks.

That's an unsourced claim from a fraternity website. The actual study you linked to says:

Compared to the non-Greeks, fraternal organization alumni membership (Greek) significantly increased donations by roughly 9 percent.

Which is a little different.
posted by escabeche at 5:01 AM on November 20, 2014 [13 favorites]


Universities don't want to/can't figure out how to get rid of Greek organizations because they have generations of alumni who were members, and who would stop donating and stop sending their kids to the school if the administration got rid of frats and sororities.

Every few years there is some blow-up at my alma mater over some frat-related thing - almost always it's an escaped "internal" newsletter where they "joke" about which female students to rape ha ha ha! - and every single time the faculty vote to abolish frats and the administration convenes a committee. Oh look, here's something about the latest round of committee meetings and studies. Again.
posted by rtha at 5:40 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Fraternities were banned at my Canadian university. They were not missed.

I think there were one or maybe two when I was at McGill circa 2000, but they were the subject of much mockery and derision, even amongst many of the top-tier athletes who might be expected to pad out frat rosters in US schools.
posted by modernnomad at 5:44 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


UVA accepts 30% of applicants; I'm assuming they'd still have plenty of qualified people to take up their slots if children of alumni who were in frats stopped attending.

I am not actually a fan of frats, but there are a lot of stops along the way between "hide everything like we do now" and "kick out every frat just in case" that they could try.
posted by jeather at 5:48 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Something I don't understand is why are colleges handling these cases? They are hardly a disinterested party. Their interests do no lie in the the individual student. Rape and other crimes should be handled by the city/county/state police depending on where the university is located at.


What is the reasoning that colleges handle these tragic events themselves?
posted by 2manyusernames at 5:57 AM on November 20, 2014


They are required to by the US Department of Education, under Title IX. They must have a policy in place for handling accusations of sexual assault and harassment.
posted by rtha at 6:11 AM on November 20, 2014 [10 favorites]


My undergraduate had no frats, no football, and ultimate frisbee was the most popular intramural sport...
This is in Canada (UVic)


Until you got to the Canada part I was wondering if we went to the same school. And yet, without frats or football, there was (and still is) plenty of sexual assault at my undergraduate college -- those things probably make it worse, but it's a far deeper problem.

What is the reasoning that colleges handle these tragic events themselves?

Federal law -- Title IX has been discussed here many times and this question always comes up.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:12 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, it's not like town cops and prosecutors in a town dominated by a university are any more disinterested. Even in cities where universities have less political and financial clout, the legal system is not notorious for being friendly to people who report sexual assault cases.

There is no Perfect Solution that I can think of. A university not have a policy at all is definitely not a solution.
posted by rtha at 6:13 AM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


I was thinking about the research I'll do when my daughter gets ready for college. I wonder if there's a site that details a list of universities and colleges that are safe for women? Probably a small list.

What is needed is some sort of online database where survivors of sexual assault and rape can add their checkmark against the university at which it occurred / whether it was dealt with appropriately.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:14 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know if it's on the same level as urban legend-type stories about dorms mistakenly being built from plans for prison cell blocks, but the explanation for dry sororities when I was at UVa was that there was a state law defining houses occupied by a certain number of women and serving alcohol as brothels. Virginia is an ABC state (you have to go to a state store for anything stronger than beer or wine), which gives that tale a small aura of plausibility, but I think in the end, it's more indicative of the general mindset on women's roles there than factual, at least for 20 years ago. Even as a male student there, turning 21 and being able to go to bars my fourth year was like having a tremendous weight lifted, not having to rely on the frats for any kind of social life, and it probably would have been way worse if I wasn't in architecture school where we had our own sort of social organization set apart from the rest of the school.
posted by LionIndex at 6:37 AM on November 20, 2014


Those who wonder why frats are allowed to continue to exist should read this Atlantic article about the history of fraternities in the US and the liability issues surrounding them that charlie don't surf linked above.

The article describes how, in addition to fraternities being a source of alumni funding and fraternity members being powerful figures, fraternities also serve the purpose of attracting students who might otherwise be unattracted to academic life. Worse -- and crucially at a state school like UVA -- frats are protected by the freedom of association clauses in both the US Constitution and in higher-ed funding bills. Were UVA to ban frats, they'd not only lose donor contributions and lose tuition paying students, they'd likely be slapped with a freedom of association suit so fast their heads would spin... and with "Fraternity men mak[ing] up 85 percent of U.S. Supreme Court justices since 1910, 63 percent of all U.S. presidential cabinet members since 1900, and, historically, 76 percent of U.S. senators," that's not a suit they'd be likely to win.

.
posted by Westringia F. at 6:41 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


I agree dip flash, didn't mean to suggest otherwise.

Certainly in the 80s at uvic there was a bathroom list that took its inspiration from the one mentioned above.
posted by chapps at 6:57 AM on November 20, 2014


What is the reasoning that colleges handle these tragic events themselves?

As others have said, they're required to due to Title IX. Colleges and universities are basically the employers and landlords for their students, and so they have responsibilities analogous to those figures. If a co-worker assaulted you at work, you'd want your employer to take action even if the DA didn't press charges.
posted by jaguar at 6:59 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


h a freedom of association suit

IANAL, and in this great nation of ours, anyone is free to sue anyone for nearly anything, but this made me go "buh?" Banning frats and sororities from university recognition and property would not prevent students from associating with whomever they wish - they just might not get to do so on campus or in university facilities. There are at least a few universities that have either banned them, or never recognized them in the first place, but the organizations still exist and students still join them - they just don't get whatever comes with being an Officially Recognized Student Organization - and they operate off-campus.
posted by rtha at 6:59 AM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Banning Greek organizations is something that private universities can and do, but public universities (like UVA) have to be more careful in respecting students' constitutional rights. This has come up at my employer in the last few years, and we used this (warning: long Microsoft Word document) to guide our thinking.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:18 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I couldn’t finish the article.

A relative of mine, whom I love and who has never given me reason to think of him as less than reputable, was nonetheless in a frat at a major party school. Maybe that shouldn't disturb me, but it does; it did when he first joined and it does even more, now that we're a bit older and I've been privy to his showing certain shocking displays of lack of judgment in other arenas. Were he accused of rape, I'd believe his accuser in an instant..... but what disturbs me even more, and what I doubt I'll be able to get out of my head any time soon, is that if he did rape somebody, there's a vanishingly slim likelihood that I'd ever hear about it.
posted by rorgy at 7:33 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Something I don't understand is why are colleges handling these cases? They are hardly a disinterested party. Their interests do no lie in the the individual student. Rape and other crimes should be handled by the city/county/state police depending on where the university is located at.

It's not an either/or. It's a both/and. Federal law mandates that employers and educational institutions have policies in place to deal with sexual harassment, including sexual assault. So for example one of the clauses of my employment at a college includes no sexual relationships with students (with minor technical exceptions.) While not necessarily illegal, the potential conflict of interest is unethical, and grounds for termination of employment.

Sexual harassment and assault should (ideally) involve both mandatory reporting of criminal conduct and termination of employment or student status. The DA makes the decision about whether the accused stands trial. The institution makes the decision about whether to have security escort the accused off campus. The institution also can make a decision about whether criminal behavior is grounds for denial of academic credentials (credit or transcript.)

And part of the ridiculousness of this is that, apparently, you can suspend or expel a student for plagiarism, cheating, or running a file-sharing service. But you can't expel a student for rape and sexual assault.

On the freedom of association argument, I don't buy it on the grounds that Greek houses and universities are deeply entangled with each other, and the problems that Greek houses get banned for are criminal or civil liabilities, not free speech.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:43 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the front page of today's Toronto Star.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:51 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


My sister went to a private vocational college in Canada and found that her rapist -- he eventually pled guilty -- was also a student, and they were willing to do nothing. (When she dropped out because of that, they gave her Fs instead of withdrawing her, which no one found out about until much later, when it caused her problems.)

Her so-called friends also did the whole "do you really want to do this?" when she went to the cops. I'm perfectly happy to blame each of them individually as well as the culture that made that a possible option.
posted by sockingjay at 8:04 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


If a co-worker assaulted you at work, you'd want your employer to take action even if the DA didn't press charges.

You'd want the police right away, not some bullshit cover-up.
posted by Artw at 8:04 AM on November 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


One problem which has been mentioned before is most American universities have their own, real, guns-and-everything police force, but that police force ultimately answers to the administration. In places where the college is not a big deal, going to the non-campus police is an option, but in college towns, the local police usually don't want anything to do with the college's problem.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:06 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ugh. I went to UVA for several years (though I graduated from another university) and it sounds like if anything they are handling things worse than in the 1980s, and that's pretty damn sad.
posted by tavella at 8:16 AM on November 20, 2014


You'd want the police right away, not some bullshit cover-up.

It doesn't have to be either the cops or your work's policies - and anyway, if it were a sexual assault, it's not like it's a sure thing the cops are going to be much better.
posted by rtha at 8:31 AM on November 20, 2014 [9 favorites]


Re: jacquilynne's TO Star link, one of the first things I had heard about Queen's when moving to Kingston was that it was really shit and awful when it came to dealing with sexual assault cases. The fact that Woolf declined to comment pisses me off.
posted by Kitteh at 8:41 AM on November 20, 2014


Teresa A. Sullivan, UVA President

Adding some depth to the question of how upper administrators can and should respond to these issues, as well as to pressures from their overseeing boards, Sullivan's board tried to force her out a couple of years ago, and it turned into a huge debacle. Here is an analysis of that situation from the New York Times. Sullivan comes off sounding like perhaps not the visionary and inspirational leader who would be able to take bold action to resolve a deep-seated problem at the school with sexual assault:

Despite this and other successes, though, Sullivan was not considered an inspirational figure. “This is not a president,” says one professor, “who was hired for the vision thing.” Unlike her predecessors, Sullivan had no talent for Jeffersonian oration; she spoke the dry language of nonprofit administration. The budgetary reform dragged, in part because Sullivan hired a provost and a chief operating officer who couldn’t get along. Despite meeting after meeting, it was unclear whether Sullivan’s proc­ess was leading to a resolution. Sullivan has called herself an “incrementalist,” but even some supporters wondered whether her talk of consensus masked a deeper dysfunction.

“You get the buy-in from stakeholders before you move forward,” Sullivan says in her defense. “When I came here, I was warned that this was an institution steeped in tradition. People love the tradition, and they would not react well to sudden change.”

posted by Dip Flash at 8:49 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sullivan's board tried to force her out a couple of years ago, and it turned into a huge debacle.

Previously on metafilter!
posted by rtha at 9:01 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ban frats
posted by chaz at 9:03 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Frats are often the sole option for an underage drinker looking to party, since bars are off-limits, sororities are dry and first-year students don't get many invites to apartment soirees.

At the small liberal arts college where I went to undergrad, conveniently located in the rural Midwest in a town of 9000 people, "Greek" life was essentially the only thing going on socially, even for those 21 or older. Of the five sororities on campus, one was local and not dry; they often had open parties (for both men and women). Most of the members of the sorority whom I knew described themselves openly as feminists. I can't speak with authority on this (I am a guy), but it seemed like a much safer place for women to socialize than any of the frats.* I am not a fan of the idea of "Greek" life in general, but I think that my college was better off having this particular space on campus.

*Also more pleasant for men who weren't into dudebro culture, but that is a secondary, knock-off effect.
posted by dhens at 9:06 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the front page of today's Toronto Star.

Holy autoplay video with triggery audio there, Toronto Star. That's pretty fucked. The audio literally starts on a description of assault - I had to turn it off because my nerves are way too raw from reading this article.

I am really not surprised that Queen's is one of the schools that is demonstrably terrible at handling sexual assault. It has all the hallmarks of an organization with a vested interest in maintaining its traditional prestige - tribalism, hazing rituals and rites of passage, homogeneity of student body, pride in the party culture, a fucking castle in England, etc. While I was there there were at least two campaigns to bring frats back to the school. Read any article on social politics on the Queen's Journal (rare enough by itself) and chances are the comment section is overrun by misogynists decrying the rise of overly sensitive political correctness.

Mental health became a big thing my last year there - several students had died in the span of one academic year, one accidentally, a few others by their own hands. There was a lot of discussion of a toxic party culture of exclusivity and ostracism, and Woolf was forced to address the issue (with some milquetoast lipservice towards extending the paltry campus mental health care services). Even with actual fatalities there was still plenty of jeering on campus about the SJWs wanting to make Queen's a more inclusive and welcoming place. Bah to it all.
posted by Phire at 9:10 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Queens is interesting on the frat question... no frats but have a notorious frosh week at least in my day. The Toronto star link will raise a lot of bad memories for Canadian university alum from the 1980s when queens was in the national news for pro rape chanting, and a terrible climate for women... We didn't say "rape culture" back then, but the term is the perfect description.
posted by chapps at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


You'd want the police right away, not some bullshit cover-up.

False dichotomy. And part of the problem.

Seriously, I don't get it. If I threw a punch in a bar, I'd be prosecuted AND banned. If I passed a bad check or tried a dine-and-dash, I'd be prosecuted AND banned. If I stole from my employer or clients, I'd be prosecuted AND fired. (And I've seen people fired on ridiculous procedural grounds.) Throw a kegger with underaged students on campus, I would have been arrested AND expelled. We criticize organizations like Catholic dioceses, The BSA, and Penn State for failing to report AND failing to disavow.

But raping a fellow student on campus? Pick one or the other. Can't have both.

And that's part of the problem because short of red-handed murder, the police might not refer to the DA, the DA might sit on the case for months until the rape kit works through the backlog (or drop it entirely), and even with an indictment, the rapist will be out on bail, in the classroom, in the student housing, and on campus the next day.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:14 AM on November 20, 2014 [16 favorites]


Because heaven forbid that organizations that, I kid you not, discipline students for chain mail do anything about rape.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:16 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


You'd want the police right away, not some bullshit cover-up.

Sadly in my experience this is ALSO not an either/or.
posted by KathrynT at 9:25 AM on November 20, 2014 [7 favorites]


I really can't handle how in the end she still, ultimately, blames only herself for "going to that stupid party." I just can't.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:48 AM on November 20, 2014


There is no Perfect Solution that I can think of.

Give the FBI jurisdiction over campus sexual assaults. Takes it out of administrator hands, out of campus and local PD--no pressure brought to bear. (Well, maybe some from powerful alumni but that's impossible to avoid entirely). Plus with the FBI's centralized data systems, more likely to catch serial rapists who move around---like the guy mentioned in the article.

Maybe not Perfect, but Much Better than now, anyway.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really can't handle how in the end she still, ultimately, blames only herself for "going to that stupid party." I just can't.

It's normal. It's typical of survivors, not only of sexual assault but of all kinds of catastrophic incidents. We are culturally schooled in cause and effect in Western culture, and uncomfortable with chaos. As a benign example, if you rush leaving the house and are side-swiped, it's common to think "it's my fault because I didn't leave the house on time."
posted by DarlingBri at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Give the FBI jurisdiction over campus sexual assaults

The FBI only updated its definition of rape to include the possibility that men could be victims in 2012. I don't know why people keep acting like involving law enforcement automatically solves things.
posted by jaguar at 11:50 AM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


As noted above they have a terrible record. Still much better than that of organizations whose explicit goal is to sweep trouble under the carpet though.
posted by Artw at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2014


I don't necessarily think it'll automatically solve everything, but if you remove the actors who have a vested interest in hiding the assaults that are happening, that's a major step forward in my view.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:55 AM on November 20, 2014


You'd want the police right away, not some bullshit cover-up.

The advantage of having the schools involved, from the point of view of the victim, is that they have a lot more control over the students' day to day life. So, if someone is assaulted by a person on their dorm floor, they can be moved, teachers can be informed to give the victim accommodations for completing work late, and they can ultimately expel someone without needing to wait for the legal system to do its thing, which can take years if it happens at all.

I'm not sure why people think that the cops are any better at handling these cases, either. Police and prosecutors are notorious for not following through on charges, not processing rape kits, telling girls it's their fault for being drunk, etc. Stats vary, but according to the FBI, 92 out of 100 rapes are never prosecuted. Not to mention the fact that the court system is really bad at dealing with trauma survivors. The system is really adversarial, and it can be incredibly difficult for someone to have to tell their story over and over to people who are looking to poke holes into it or find a way to make it seem like it was their fault. This is not a situation where the facts or the truth conquers all, but often a situation where the victim gives up because they are re-traumatized at every turn while trying to get justice.

But yes, you don't want a cover-up either. But our system has failed and is continuing to fail. Moving these crimes up the law-enforcement food chain isn't really going to solve anything until we get at the deeper problems of why so few of these men, at any level, are actually held accountable for their actions. We also need to reform the legal system to respond in more productive ways to crimes involving personal trauma, and frankly change the culture so that anyone who says "boys will be boys" or something to that effect is shamed being for the ignorant asshole that they are.
posted by ohisee at 11:59 AM on November 20, 2014 [10 favorites]


I want the cops involved in the hope they will send the people who have committed crimes to prison, where they belong. Now, I know we are all cynical in this day and age, but they are supposed to do that.
posted by Artw at 12:03 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I want the cops involved in the hope they will send the people who have committed crimes to prison, where they belong. Now, I know we are all cynical in this day and age, but they are supposed to do that.

Not to be on too much of a soapbox here, but studies have shown that police engage in domestic violence at twice the rate of the general population. We then trust them to be the first line of defense against sexual violence? Yes, they should prosecute people who commit crimes, but overwhelmingly they don't. This is reality and why police are not the answer to the problem at colleges. They need to have their feet held to the fire just as bad, if not more, than college administrators.
posted by ohisee at 12:09 PM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Cops will go on record as saying that they automatically disbelieve women in the majority of rape cases they see. You might as well report it to your neighbor's dog.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:11 PM on November 20, 2014 [12 favorites]


When I read this bit:
Asked why UVA doesn't publish all its data, President Sullivan explains that it might not be in keeping with "best practices" and thus may inadvertently discourage reporting. Jackie got a different explanation when she'd eventually asked Dean Eramo the same question. She says Eramo answered wryly, "Because nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school."
I registered "theRapeSchool.org".

I'm a web designer. Data people? Lets make this happen.

I'm attempting to comb through some relevant data. Cleary act reports are furnished in PDFs of scanned paper copies. Title IX investigations are not published until they are closed, which can take years. These might be useful in determining wrongdoing by administrations, but what I'd like to get out there is some statistics on reported sexual violence, as a total number per year, and as a percentage of the student population, and for comparison, the rate in the surrounding area. Or something like that. I'll readily profess my ignorance on these kinds of statistics.

A dump of links:
https://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/school/clery-act
http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-releases-list-higher-education-institutions-open-title-i
http://speier.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1296&Itemid=161
https://www.notalone.gov/data/#school-by-school-enforcement-map
http://catalog.data.gov/dataset?q=sexual+assault&sort=score+desc%2C+name+asc
http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php
posted by fontophilic at 12:15 PM on November 20, 2014 [26 favorites]


Takes it out of administrator hands, ...

Which runs directly counter to why we consider sexual harassment and assault forms of civil rights discrimination.

We don't want to take it out of administrator hands. We want to make administrators and employers fully responsible for what happens under their watch. We want for Penn State style coverups to be an expensive career-killer. When administrators turn a blind eye to harassment and rape, we want to bring down all the legal plagues of the federal court system and DOE authority to block aid to civil rights abusers down on their heads.

True story: The Enormous State University that I got my graduate degree from was threatened with a multi-million dollar copyright-infringement lawsuit by the RIAA. In turn, they threatened students with eviction, suspension, and/or expulsion for using file-sharing applications.

In what kind of a fucked-up world do administrators have the ability to sanction students for sharing music, but not for rape?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:27 PM on November 20, 2014 [9 favorites]


Well that's my point really. Admins aren't doing anything, so take the investigation out of their hands entirely--and slap them with serious penalties for doing nothing constructive to combat the problem.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:30 PM on November 20, 2014


Admins aren't doing anything, so take the investigation out of their hands entirely--and slap them with serious penalties for doing nothing constructive to combat the problem

But really, what police department is known to actually take rape very seriously? One of the worst parts of articles dealing with the Cosby allegations is the number of writers and commenters who say things along the lines of "they can't all be lying!" The presumption is that if you accuse someone of rape, you are lying, and even if you press a case-- which will be traumatic and which will involve even more people accusing you of lying-- the police do not always support you.

I went to a liberal women's college, and I know someone who said she was assaulted at a party by an off-campus guy. She only told us long afterwards, and there were a lot of people on our floor who needed help dealing with the side affects of drinking, but I really wish we had been able to do something to help, other than saying supportive things. I don't know if she ever reported it. I was never a party person but I really stopped being interested after that.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:38 PM on November 20, 2014


More police departments than universities, it would seem. Not much more, sure--you'll get no argument from me that police treat rape in an abominable fashion. But more is better, no? And I suspect that if jurisdiction were given to the FBI things would be taken a little more seriously. Maybe not a lot. But any change for the better is good.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:43 PM on November 20, 2014


Some good news out of NYC.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it has committed up to $35 million to fund the clearance of rape kit backlogs across the country. The initiative, which was launched in partnership with the Joyful Heart Foundation’s End the Backlog program, is the largest-ever financial contribution toward ending the rape kit backlog.
“The rape kit backlog sends two terrible messages,” said Mariska Hargitay, star of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and founder and president of the Joyful Heart Foundation. “To victims, it says: You don’t matter. What happened to you doesn’t matter. And to criminals, it says: What you did doesn’t matter. Testing the kits reverses those messages.”
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:53 PM on November 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


fontophilic, have you seen this data on college sexual assault reports? (scroll down halfway through the page to get to it)

It's important to keep in mind that in the current climate, a high rate of reporting often means that the school is making an effort to encourage reporting and taking the problem seriously. These statistics as they currently stand aren't that useful for isolating which colleges and universities are particular hotbeds for this type of crime.

I've been researching sexual assault on colleges for a couple years and am working on a project around it. Feel free to memail me if you'd like to talk about things in more detail.
posted by ohisee at 12:54 PM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well that's my point really. Admins aren't doing anything, so take the investigation out of their hands entirely

Well, you can't, not without redoing a whole lot of Title IX-related federal law. And the other thing is that not every victim - most of them, based on the stats we know about - already don't want to report to the police. And you can't force them to. Someone who has been sexually assaulted may just want their perpetrator to be gone from campus, or at least moved to a different dorm, and not necessarily to go through the entire criminal justice process.
posted by rtha at 12:57 PM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's important to keep in mind that in the current climate, a high rate of reporting often means that the school is making an effort to encourage reporting and taking the problem seriously.

Yeah, I would be far more wary of a big school that had none reported, especially if it's located in a sports-is-king part of the country.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:17 PM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well that's my point really. Admins aren't doing anything, so take the investigation out of their hands entirely--and slap them with serious penalties for doing nothing constructive to combat the problem.

It seems there's a lot of confusion here about who has responsibility for what. The FBI can't take responsibility for criminal matters out of the hands of administrators, because administrators don't have it.

Administrators do have an educational Title IX mandate (among others) to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and assault. This is limited to restricting access to academic credentials and school resources. The limit of school authority is, "you are no longer a student."

IMNSHO, this mandate extends to charters with student organizations such as Greek houses. It's strikes me as perfectly reasonable that if an Enormous State University can kill a Greek house due to multiple alcohol-related arrests and injuries, that they can do so for multiple complaints of harassment and assault.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:18 PM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


There also seems to be confusion about how reporting sexual assault to law enforcement goes.

Quotations from "How Did the FBI Miss Over 1 Million Rapes?" (the article contains a lot of links to citations).

A survivor calls 911. She's got to convince the 911 dispatcher that she's been sexually assaulted:
Sixty-nine percent of police departments surveyed in 2012 said that dispatchers like this one, often with little training, are authorized to do the initial coding of sexual assault crimes.
Then she has to convince the police that she's been sexually assaulted, not just suffered a misdemeanor crime:
One of the primary ways is that officers discount victim testimony, categorizing complaints as “unfounded” or reclassifying allegations of rape as “noncriminal” minor offenses. In 2013, a 196-page report by Human Rights Watch documented widespread, systemic failures in the Washington, DC, police department’s handling and downgrading of sexual assault cases. Last month, an externally run audit of the New Orleans police department found that 46 percent of forcible rapes were misclassified. The New Orleans study indicted the department for having submitted rape statistics that were 43 percent lower than those from twenty-four comparable cities. And in Baltimore, reported rapes showed a suspicious 80 percent decline between 1995 and 2010, compared with a 7 percent national reduction. Yung also reveals that officers sometimes simply fail to write up reports after rape victims are interviewed.
...or not just lying:
Interestingly, the longer an officer has worked in a sexual assault unit, the less likely he or she is to believe in false claims. A majority of detectives with between one and seven years of experience believe that 40 percent of claims are false—in some cases that number is as high as 80 percent. But among officers with more than eight years’ experience, the rate drops precipitously, to 10 percent. On campus or off, these beliefs persist, despite the fact that rates of false allegations of rape are well understood by criminologists and other social scientists to be between 2 percent and 8 percent, in line with false allegations of other crimes.
Then the police have to choose to actually gather evidence:
...police departments have been found to destroy records and ignore or mishandle evidence, which leads not only to undercounting but dismissal of cases. Many of the jurisdictions showing consistent undercounting are also, unsurprisingly, those with rape kit backlogs (there are more than 400,000 untested kits in the United States). Many cities and states don’t even keep accurate track of the number of rape exams or of kits languishing, expired or in storerooms—but when they do, the numbers improve. The arrest rate for sex assault in New York City went from 40 percent to 70 percent after the city successfully processed an estimated 17,000 kits in the early 2000s. However, it is only in the past year, after embarrassing and critical news coverage, that most departments have begun to process backlogs.
And the police and DA have to choose to pursue the case, which often comes down to not only whether they believe her but also whether the DA believe there is enough evidence to win the case. Not all cases get prosecuted:
In 2012, the police department of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, was held liable in a case in which police accused a reporting victim of lying during her interview, at one point telling her, “Your tears won’t save you now,” and failing to pursue the investigation. In St. Louis, victims were strongly urged by police to sign Sexual Assault Victim Waivers absolving police from responsibility to investigate or report the crime as a rape to the FBI. Yung points out in his report that until relatively recently, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department defied the law by using so-called “corroboration requirements” and reporting only those assaults deemed, in the words of LA police and prosecutors, “winnable” in court (“corroboration requirements,” referring to evidence supporting victims’ claims such as bloody clothes or bruises, have deep roots in jurisprudence but are no longer legal in most of the country, including California).
I have worked with sexual assault survivors who reported sexual assaults immediately, cooperated entirely with the police and DA, and were told the DA would not pursue the case because the survivor had been drugged by her rapist and therefore couldn't remember much about the assault, making the case unwinnable. Given that about 80% of sexual assault survivors had consumed alcohol, often intentionally provided by their rapist as a way of incapacitating them, this tends to knock out a lot of potential cases.

Survivors cannot press criminal charges themselves. Reporting an assault to law enforcement does not put the perpetrator in jail. It very rarely even puts him on trial, or gets him arrested.
posted by jaguar at 1:39 PM on November 20, 2014 [53 favorites]


Jesus god that's depressing, even having already known some of it.
posted by rtha at 1:59 PM on November 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


Many of the jurisdictions showing consistent undercounting are also, unsurprisingly, those with rape kit backlogs (there are more than 400,000 untested kits in the United States).

On a slightly positive note:
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance will offer up to $35 million for municipalities around the country to process backlogged sexual assault evidence kits...

Out of 11,000 untested rape kits in Detroit, prosecutors found 1,600 DNA samples that were later involved in rapes elsewhere – including New York.

“We’re funding this project because rape is not a local crime,” Mr. Vance said. “Many who rape, rape again — and they rape again elsewhere..."
http://observer.com/2014/11/cyrus-vance-and-mariska-hargitay-announce-35-million-to-test-rape-kits-nationwide/

I am not seeing it in this particular article, but an article I saw on this same story in the last few days indicated that a number of convictions had occurred due to finding funds for going through the backlog of rape kits in some cities.
posted by Michele in California at 2:00 PM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm completely aware of police mishandling of cases (mishandling is the calm and temperate term, I fully know that it is way deeper and more malicious than that). I'm also aware of how many victims don't want to go to police--that speaks, in most cases, to changing two things: 1) how police handle sexual assault cases, and 2) how people react to victims. The two seem pretty inextricably tied together, and I pretty firmly believe that seeing more men apprehended, tried, and punished for sexual assaults will do a hell of a lot towards helping victims want to come forward--what's the point in coming forward if nothing's going to be done, right? (Yes, completely aware of problems around revictimization, which more prosecution cannot solve--but better action by police in the early stages of investigation can help ameliorate).

I mean, it seems to me one of the major problems here is that rapists simply aren't being prosecuted on campuses. Women have to go to class with the men who have assaulted them, because administration has a vested interest in making sure information doesn't go public. More women get assaulted, because those men remain on campus. Something needs to be done, and I think that getting real police without admin pressure on them involved is the way to start telling all these women "Yes, we take you seriously. Yes, we are going to stop this man. And that one. And all the others. Yes, it will hurt and it will be difficult, but you will have the opportunity to see him locked up for his crimes. He will not get away with this."

At the end of the day I don't really care what it takes to get there; if it stops one more young woman from having her life derailed by some asshole it's a good thing. Obviously, comprehensive victim support services--free counselling, altered education plans, etc--is also required. But I really don't think we can get young women to come forward without demonstrating in really concrete ways that when they do they will be believed and action will be taken. It's also worth considering, I think, that part of the "oh I don't want him arrested, just boot him out of school" thing comes from the same place as women blaming themselves for being assaulted. Or it seems to me there's a lot of overlap there, anyway.

I know, I know, what I'm saying is pretty pie-in-the-sky; there are so many moving parts that need to be fixed. Administration needs to stand up to donors/alumnae, police need to not be assholes, the social cost of being known as a rapist needs to be worse than the social cost of reporting one, etc etc etc. If nothing else, one barrier should be easy to remove: if you're drunk/drugged to facilitate the assault, not remembering should be evidence.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:24 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


It should be treated as a police matter because it is a violent crime. Treating sexual assault as something that can be dealt with on a administrative level is putting it on the same level as playing your stereo too loud or cheating on a test. If she had done into the Dean of Feeling a Little Better About Things and reported that a group of students had taken her laptop at gunpoint, I am pretty sure she wouldn't have been offered the same three options.

What is important is getting perpetrators off the street and the worst a university can do is to send them home.
posted by rtimmel at 3:00 PM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


It should be treated as a police matter because it is a violent crime. Treating sexual assault as something that can be dealt with on a administrative level is putting it on the same level as playing your stereo too loud or cheating on a test

Again, this is not an either/or. There are both criminal and administrative aspects to dealing with an assault on a college campus.
posted by jaguar at 3:04 PM on November 20, 2014 [8 favorites]


According to a Facebook friend, UVA Law students received this email from administration today:

"With specific regard to electronic communication, I would encourage students to discuss cultural issues and various opinions in person rather than online. Electronic communication is ill-suited to debate and discourse; it is permanent, open to individuals outside of the law school community, and does not allow for tone of voice, eye contact, body language and other factors that may signify tolerance and allow us to find common ground. As we move forward, I hope that each of us can take responsibility for fostering an environment that has and can continue to make UVA Law far and away the most collegial among the nation's top law schools."

So that's creepy.
posted by naoko at 4:06 PM on November 20, 2014 [19 favorites]


Granted, jaguar, but the administrative (expulsion, e.g., which I think should be the bare minimum; rescinding all your credits should be included I think) aspects shouldn't trump or replace the criminal ones.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:08 PM on November 20, 2014


The Onion just posted this depressingly appropriate piece. This last sentence lets you know that it's fiction.
posted by dhens at 4:15 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Granted, jaguar, but the administrative (expulsion, e.g., which I think should be the bare minimum; rescinding all your credits should be included I think) aspects shouldn't trump or replace the criminal ones.

I don't think anyone's saying that they should. But the chest-thumping is ignoring the reality that it's totally sensible to make sure a student's rapist doesn't sit next to her in the dining hall at breakfast the next morning, or be assigned a peer review of her short story, or otherwise interact with her on a daily basis in ways she can't stop unless she herself leaves school.

There's a triage process, for lack of a better word, that people don't seem to be understanding. Focusing on the immediate daily needs of the survivor as a first priority is not misplaced. And even if there were no rape-culture-bullshit barriers to arresting and prosecuting perpetrators, there are still going to be plenty of times when there's not enough evidence to convict. Universities should still have the power -- and the responsibility -- to keep students safe in such cases.
posted by jaguar at 4:18 PM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah. I guess what I'm saying is that criminal and administrative concerns should run parallel, not one at the expense of the other. The university sanctioning in an administrative capacity should have nothing to do with criminal penalty.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:20 PM on November 20, 2014


The Onion just posted this depressingly appropriate piece. This last sentence lets you know that it's fiction.

Yeah, the anonymous donor is Bill Cosby if that isn't clear.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Drinky Die: Ahhhh, that makes sense. Ugh.
posted by dhens at 4:28 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


That law school email is terrifying.
posted by KathrynT at 4:39 PM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of the cited articles in jaguar's Nation link that I'd like to emphasize is a fairly comprehensive piece on studies about false rape allegations and public perception. I see that a lot of pushback online (other than the stupid she-was-asking-for-it defense) can be attributed to either a misperception on the rate of false reports, and the incorrect public image of real rape victims (jeez I'm getting angry just needing to type out real).
posted by halifix at 5:00 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I guess what I'm saying is that criminal and administrative concerns should run parallel, not one at the expense of the other. The university sanctioning in an administrative capacity should have nothing to do with criminal penalty.

In theory, that is how it's supposed to work. The university does not have to wait for the criminal justice system to weigh in on the case before it proceeds; it does not require that the reporting student go to the police first, or at any point, before it proceeds. What the criminal justice system does or does not do with the accusation is supposed to be irrelevant.
posted by rtha at 5:07 PM on November 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


It seems as though the university (as in all of them) are actively dissuading students from the criminal justice system, though, which is a big problem. And is part of why that study in 2002 showed how many men rape multiple times, I think.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:13 PM on November 20, 2014


Yeah, the problem is that neither the school nor the real police have been at all good at doing their jobs to protect victims. Here's another absolutely depressing report on how The New Orleans Police Department that only followed up on 14% of assault reports in a 3-year period.
posted by TwoStride at 5:32 PM on November 20, 2014


The Rector of the Board of Visitors of UVA issued a statement saying, among other things:
I contacted Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and requested that, in addition to receiving the continued able assistance by his Office, the University be authorized to engage independent counsel to advise and assist the Board of Visitors and University administration in determining how the University can better deal with the issue of campus sexual assaults, including how best to maximize opportunities for successful criminal prosecution of sexual misconduct cases. The counsel will examine the relevant legal issues as well as the University's policies and processes, giving particular attention to the question of how to respond in situations where there is serious and credible information about sexual misconduct but no willing complainant.
The person selected to act as independent counsel? Mark Filip, a brother of Phi Kappa Psi.
posted by Orinda at 7:01 PM on November 20, 2014 [10 favorites]


Something foxes something something henhouse, fuck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:38 PM on November 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


The person selected to act as independent counsel? Mark Filip, a brother of Phi Kappa Psi.

If a similar plot twist were in a film, I would think it was over the top. Jesus fucking Christ. This shit can't be accidental.
posted by dhens at 7:41 PM on November 20, 2014




Doesn't anyone ever think: What if this were my daughter?

I know this comes from a good sentiment, but I really dislike this line of thinking. I have no daughters. I don't need them to know that rape is a horrifying betrayal of someone else's personhood. This kind of other ing is part of what perpetuates rape culture.

Also, holy shit, not only are we horribly failing women in our society, but men and boys too. We need to expect more of them. I sympathize with the "ruin their lives, throw them out sentiment." But we also need to nip the culture in the bid by doing a better job of teaching consent.
posted by dry white toast at 9:34 PM on November 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also, holy shit, not only are we horribly failing women in our society, but men and boys too. We need to expect more of them. I sympathize with the "ruin their lives, throw them out sentiment." But we also need to nip the culture in the bid by doing a better job of teaching consent.

I get where you're coming from, but pushing for harsher punishment isn't (just) about vengeance. The lack of serious consequences that frequently accompany sexual assault send the message that consent isn't important. That what happened is really just a "misunderstanding", or a "youthful mistake", not a horrific violation of another person's right to feel safe in their own body. It perpetuates rape culture.

(this is part of why the idea that false accusations of rape are regularly deployed as a way to tarnish the reputation of men is so hilariously absurd--if I was for some reason hellbent on ruining a man's life, don't you think I'd pick a method that wasn't a thousandfold more likely to heap the scorn and scrutiny on me rather than him?)
posted by kagredon at 10:50 PM on November 20, 2014 [9 favorites]


I really wish that Rolling Stone had given Drew's last name. Shining light on these < expletive deleted> people is perhaps the best way to prevent them from striking again. I was talking with some Columbia grad students about the woman with the mattress and one of them was saying that getting these people expelled just moved them on to new hunting grounds. I know that colleges are particularly fertile ones, but given that most rapes are committed by serial rapists, name and shame. Make it so that every woman around knows not to be alone with these men.

Of course I also want to see every frat house burned to the ground with the ashes salted, perhaps with heads mounted on pikes as a warning to the next ten generations that some actions actually come with a price.

On the plus side, the frat house was vandalized with "UVA Center for Rape Studies" spray-painted on it, along with miscellaneous damage done to the house (please note that the voluntary suspension of the charter came after the vandalization).
posted by Hactar at 11:58 PM on November 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


U.Va.'s president:
Finally, I want to underscore our commitment to marshaling all available resources to assist our students who confront issues related to sexual misconduct.

Unfortunately, she's talking about the rapists.
posted by msalt at 12:37 AM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Re: frats, why aren't they being shut down for serving alcohol to minors?

Freedom of association doesn't allow you to ignore drinking laws. The article says that students are flocking to frats because it's the only place that "allows" underage drinking -- that's an ongoing criminal conspiracy even without the rapes.
posted by msalt at 1:27 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I registered "theRapeSchool.org".
Only it's unfortunate that it's with a domain registrar whose default website for the domain is coming up with links for "Casual Sex", "Adult Affair Dating", etc. Would be a good idea to put at least a placeholder page there if there is any intent to use the site for good.
posted by Creosote at 4:59 AM on November 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


In a statement, the Virginia Phi Kappa Psi chapter said their members voluntarily surrendered their fraternal organization agreement with UVA on Thursday.

I've been refreshing this thread a lot over the past few days without knowing what I was looking for. This helps.
posted by armacy at 5:38 AM on November 21, 2014


My general feelings on the Greek system are "burn it to the ground," but this more moderate piece from yesterday's Cavalier Daily made some interesting points that I wouldn't have thought about.

Also, re: the email I posted above - apparently now they're claiming it was spurred by some unrelated cyberbullying issue and not the Rolling Stone article? I don't know if I buy it.
posted by naoko at 6:54 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]




I really wish that Rolling Stone had given Drew's last name.

They didn't give his first name, either. The text reads "She smiled at her date, whom we'll call Drew". If they were careful, there's nobody in the frat named Drew at all.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:18 AM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


From this link I found on the front page of The Cavalier, the UVA student newspaper, an excerpt buried in the middle of a statement way down the page..

FROM: Inter-Sorority Council at U.Va.

TIME: Email sent Thursday, Nov. 20 to all sorority women at the University

Dear members of the Inter-Sorority Council Community,

...As we look towards this weekend, please be thoughtful of potentially risky behaviors. Tradition is one of the many things that makes UVA such a unique and special place. The Greek community, in particular, greatly values the importance of tradition. However, the practice of the Fourth Year Fifth should be reevaluated due to its harmful effects. This instance, where students choose to drink a fifth of liquor before the last home football game of the season, can be dangerous for anyone, no matter what your perceived tolerance is.


What?!?!??

There is something fundamentally fucked up about party schools.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:43 AM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


It...is a bit troubling if they are just noticing that drinking a fifth of liquor could be hazardous to your health.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:04 AM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


As you should know, eponically.
posted by msalt at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2014 [9 favorites]


Relatedly (and probably the subject of an fpp soon), pickup artist denied visa on grounds of sexism. I think the culture is shifting on this, but slowly and with a lot of conflict, which is why we are seeing all these Title IX related articles and lawsuits.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:03 AM on November 21, 2014


And why we are seeing so much backlash from the right.
posted by msalt at 10:05 AM on November 21, 2014


I think the culture is shifting on this, but slowly and with a lot of conflict, which is why we are seeing all these Title IX related articles and lawsuits.

The lawsuits are also an orchestrated activist effort. Which I think is great -- women are sharing their knowledge and experience about how to fight back against apathetic administrations.
posted by jaguar at 10:21 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


"This is the ugly truth. Rapists make us less uncomfortable than rape victims. Predators demand so much less than victims; they aren’t as inconvenient. They don’t bleed or hurt or reveal their gaping wounds. If we don’t doubt them, we do not have to doubt ourselves. That’s why the charm of Cliff Huxtable – a fictional character – is more important than the words of so many women. That’s why a university’s patina of prestige and gentility is more important than the words of any number of young women who have been raped on that campus."

Roxane Gay on UVA and Bill Cosby.
posted by blucevalo at 10:33 AM on November 21, 2014 [9 favorites]


The lawsuits are also an orchestrated activist effort. Which I think is great -- women are sharing their knowledge and experience about how to fight back against apathetic administrations.

I wrote that on my phone and afterwards realized I worded it exactly backwards -- things are changing because of the amazing and brave activism, just as you say.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:54 AM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


From people in the UVA greek system, the perception is that Sullivan and predecessors has been trying to incrementally fade the greeks away for years. They want to have their cake and eat it too; they hope non-greek social organizations will be just as effective for fundraising and adequately enjoyable for future students, and they don't want to be seen as taking a hammer to the fraternities and anger the rich alumni. Their preferred outcome is to close major frats one by one when somebody does something stupid and make recruiting difficult enough to have some die natural deaths while permitting no new ones to open.

Charlottesville PD / Albemarle County Sheriff and VABC could get rid of a fair number of frat parties by bothering to enforce the law. They couldn't get rid of the desire for 18 year olds to drink and have sex with each other. The argument that one hears is that dramatic GHB-fueled stranger rape is rare compared to "usual" date rape (oh god, that phrase) which happens independently all over campus. Frat parties supply the lion's share of beer to 1st years, but nailing frats would not stop parties, just move them to places where the university and other responsible adults have no influence (so they say). I think that it would help a good deal to make early-fall alcohol harder to come by, and also to make clear that under-aged students won't be punished for accepting alcohol.

It's unsatisfying that a long article ostensibly about universities response to sexual assault spends perhaps a paragraph and a half discussing the process, with the only suggestion that it offers too much choice to victims. It's true that the university adjudicates academic violations differently than sexual assault. The university has the apparatus and experience to adequately determine plagiarism, but it doesn't have the police power to do justice for more serious allegations. UVA can't make someone testify, compel them to produce DNA, doesn't have a crime lab, etc. I would favor efforts focusing on making the police do a better investigatory job and universities relying on their findings to suspend, expel, etc. with a lower standard of evidence than required for criminal or civil court. If congress wants to give public schools carte blanch and legal immunity for proceedings against adults which don't approximate due process, they can try. The secrecy aspect is also understandable. These aren't real trials; they apparently should accept years-ago accusations as the standard of evidence, but should they make the result public?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:57 AM on November 21, 2014




Also, re: the email I posted above - apparently now they're claiming it was spurred by some unrelated cyberbullying issue and not the Rolling Stone article? I don't know if I buy it.
posted by naoko at 9:54 AM on November 21 [1 favorite +] [!]


Earlier this week there was a Facebook kerfuffle among UVA law students about two current law students who are contestants in the Miss Virginia pageant (or whatever it's called). Basically, it got very nasty, along the lines of "you're a puppet of the patriarchy/no you're a condescending fascist". The message you quoted was from the law school's student body president, not the administration, and only went out to law students. It was not a great sentiment, and poorly worded, but I'm pretty sure it was just trying to tell the law students to stop having nasty arguments on social media, not really related to the Rolling Stone article, about which there has been very little if any public disagreement.
posted by skewed at 12:33 PM on November 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Continuing the thought of multiple otherwise unsubstantiated complaints being adequate to kick someone out of school but not peruse other remedies. Undergrads are a vulnerable population, but certainly not the only one. With the Graham case the apparent killer / rapist was kicked out of universities, but had no trouble finding vulnerable women elsewhere. What's the right standard of evidence to brand someone likely rapist for life? Do they get the general sex offender treatment and banned from educational institutions and lots of employment opportunities?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:07 PM on November 21, 2014


UVA can't make someone testify, compel them to produce DNA, doesn't have a crime lab, etc.

Again, people are confusing criminal proceedings by the state, with internal decisions by an organization about who to allow in or not.

You're right that UVA can't make someone testify or produce DNA. They also don't have to let someone be a student, and if a student refuses to cooperate with an investigation after another student accuses them of rape, the school doesn't have to follow criminal procedure rules to send them packing.

Hell, they are dead wrong if they DON'T kick a student out in these circumstances.

It's ironic how many conservatives who hate the basic legal protections for people actually accused of a crime cry about denying those same protections to rapey students on a simple expulsion hearing. "His life will be ruined" oh boo fucking hoo.
posted by msalt at 1:10 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


It was not a great sentiment, and poorly worded, but I'm pretty sure it was just trying to tell the law students to stop having nasty arguments on social media, not really related to the Rolling Stone article, about which there has been very little if any public disagreement.

Ah, thanks for the clarification. FWIW, there are definitely people in the student body who, because it was so unclear, initially read it as being about the sexual assault issue and had a "WTF?" reaction.
posted by naoko at 1:32 PM on November 21, 2014


This has been making the rounds in Charlottesville: a story about another violent rape in the same frat house 20 years ago.
posted by skewed at 3:37 PM on November 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was about to wonder about the statute of limitations, but "...Virginia allows all felonies to be prosecuted indefinitely, according to Chief Longo."

I hope this makes all those campus rapists, current and former, piss themselves with fear.
posted by rtha at 3:47 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


This has been making the rounds in Charlottesville: a story about another violent rape in the same frat house 20 years ago.
posted by skewed at 3:37 PM on November 21 [−] [!]
FYI: It is actually 30 years ago: October 5, 1984

The article is from 2006 and refers to the incident as 21 years earlier.

But thank you for posting it. (still reading it)
posted by Michele in California at 3:53 PM on November 21, 2014


Various updates:

Frathouse vandalized with broken windows and "Suspend Us" and "UVA Center for Rape Studies" graffiti.

Hundreds take part in Slut Walk demonstration at UVA.

UVA refuses to disclose location of president Theresa Sullivan due to security concerns.

Meanwhile, this article indicates that William Beebe, the confessed rapist alluded to in the original article and in the article linked by skewed ended up pleading guilty to aggravated sexual battery in 2006 and served six months in prison before being released.
posted by mhum at 6:03 PM on November 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


The admitted rapist in that case plead guilty (he had sent many letters and emails confessing his rape while working through his steps in AA). He was sentenced to 18 months in jail and served 7 months. The other two rapists were not charged; I can't find any information on whether their identities were revealed in the investigation, or whether details of the date rape drug involved were revealed.
posted by msalt at 6:04 PM on November 21, 2014


Phi Kappa Psi suspended its activities Thursday after Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said he was “deeply disturbed” by what he read in Rolling Stone and ordered a full and fair investigation to take place.

I have to say, kudos to Rolling Stone. Real ducking shame that it took national media attention to get to this point, but at least this article got us here...
posted by RedOrGreen at 6:13 PM on November 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


U.Va alumni respond.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:21 AM on November 22, 2014


I am very pleasantly surprised at the reactions quoted in that article.
Dean T. Janis, alumnus of the Commerce and Law Schools, cited the disturbing fact that no student has ever been expelled from the University for sexual assault as one of his greatest points of discontent.

“This is staggering,” he said. “This cannot solely be the result of the underreporting of sexual assaults. This can only be the result of a system designed to discourage reporting, to gloss over reported incidents and to emasculate any system having the purported authority to punish student violations.”
...especially.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:06 AM on November 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I mentally sent that alum a high five for that. Gives me a little hope.
posted by rtha at 10:39 AM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


to emasculate any system having the purported authority to punish student violations.

That is a particularly poor choice of words in this context. A more appropriate word might be "eviscerate."
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:26 PM on November 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


On Saturday, UVA President Teresa Sullivan suspended fraternities at the university until next semester. “Beginning immediately, I am suspending all fraternal organizations and associated social activities until January 9th, ahead of the beginning of our spring semester,” Sullivan wrote in a statement on Saturday. “In the intervening period we will assemble groups of students, faculty, alumni, and other concerned parties to discuss our next steps in preventing sexual assault and sexual violence on Grounds.”
posted by argonauta at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


“Beginning immediately, I am suspending all fraternal organizations and associated social activities until January 9th, ahead of the beginning of our spring semester. In the intervening period we will assemble groups of students, faculty, alumni, and other concerned parties to discuss our next steps in preventing sexual assault and sexual violence on Grounds.”

Discussions! Cool! That's totally what's needed.

How about convictions and expulsions?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:04 PM on November 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Charlottesville's local paper The Daily Progress has noticed that something's happening. From today:
Controversy swells at UVa as Filip taken off the job and Sullivan heads back to the U.S., Burnell Evans.

UVa dean speaks about gang rape allegation, Dani Kass.

University of Virginia's Sullivan suspends fraternities, associated social activities until Jan. 9 (includes text of today's letter).
Mostly more hypocrisy and fake concern and outrage from University officials.
posted by nangar at 1:06 PM on November 22, 2014


So they're suspending frats for 5 weeks, two of which the school's probably basically closed for winter break and two of which are probably final exams? It's good that they're doing something, I guess, but ...
posted by jacquilynne at 1:07 PM on November 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


UVA has published a proposed new Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.
posted by nangar at 1:26 PM on November 22, 2014


The Sexual Misconduct Board is accepting public comments on the proposed new Policy up until December 5, should anyone care to weigh in.

Dean T. Janis, alumnus of the Commerce and Law Schools, cited the disturbing fact that no student has ever been expelled from the University for sexual assault as one of his greatest points of discontent.

This has been the most shocking thing for many of the alums I know. We are so familiar with the single-sanction honor code (and some of its ridiculous results, e.g., expulsion as the punishment for copying another student's math homework) that it is completely unfathomable no one has ever been expelled for rape. Earlier this week, a member of the Sexual Misconduct Board published an op-ed in the school paper claiming it was "legally impossible" for the school to expel a student it judges to be guilty of rape due to due process concerns. As if other schools don't expel rapists. Bullshit. Just confirms to me that change from the inside will be too late and not enough. Keeping up pressure from the outside (DOE, civil suits, media) is essential.
posted by sallybrown at 9:53 PM on November 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


She's gonna be the girl who cried 'rape,'

This is something that blows my mind and makes me a little pissed off at the current generation. Maybe I'm just more aware now than I was 15 years ago about how shitty it really was, but it seems like we have an epidemic of false rape accusation accusations.

Which is to say, there are not a lot of women falsely claiming rape, but there are a lot of men falsely claiming/believing that false rape accusations are extremely common.

So much so that it is commonplace to talk about first, not how the victim of a rape has been affected, but how the assailant, now more commonly referred to as the recipient of an accusation, has had their life ruined.

The whole point of the "boy who cried wolf" story is that there was never an wolf.

It's getting to the point where some men won't be happy unless there is a video tape of the event, with the man clearly asking permission and the female demurring, along with a signed affidavit on the part of the rapist stating that he acknowledges her refusal of sex but has chosen to have sex with her anyway.

This is seriously toxic thinking and it seems like it is only getting worse, especially as it is clearly being integrated into the thinking of women and men.

Also, fuck fraternities and sororities in general. Any time you have a group — be it a fraternity, a church, or a company — where at some point you are put in a position where you can be an actual human being — empathetic and caring about the suffering or self-respect of other humans — or remain part of a particular goup, then fuck that group every time.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:05 AM on November 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Suspended for a whole month of vacation, whoa there Pres. Sullivan that's a real bold move. Not.

Fucking frats need to be burned to the ground and the earth under them salted, Carthage style. Time to go all Roman on the "Greeks."

I taught at a big public university with a big frat system for a few years. Now I teach at a school where being in a frat (although we have a few) is a sign of being an unsophisticated rube. But I think we are headed toward an era when being in a frat will be like being a member of the rapist version of the KKK, something only a few people will still want to do, secretly.

UVa, the entire academic world is watching. You want to be considered among the world's great institutions? Do something major. Close them all down. For good.
posted by spitbull at 4:49 AM on November 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


And lol they are arresting protesters, but not rapists, in Charlottesville.

Way to go, UVa.

No parent should consider sending a daughter to UVa until the frats are gone.
posted by spitbull at 4:55 AM on November 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd be in jail for murder if this was my daughter.

I know this comment is from forever ago, but...

I've wondered before whether I would even tell my dad if I was ever raped. I love him and don't like hiding anything from him, but the above reaction is precisely why I might hide something like rape.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:16 AM on November 23, 2014 [8 favorites]


UVA's public and there are a ton of powerful Virginia people (powerful in politics and in money) who have ties to UVA frats. It seems likely the administration is on very delicate ground to take any action against the frats; as is the case in so many places, frat-affiliated people have a lot of control over the money that keeps the university open.

If the Obama administration's recent push about campus rape is changing the calculus on this - making it clearly financially imprudent for schools to protect frats - it will be hell of a thing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:09 AM on November 23, 2014


From England: How the police are letting sexual assault victims down: A new report shows that 26% of all sexual offences reported to the police are not recorded as crimes
One eight-year-old girl wrote to police three years after her rape to say: “When I was five something very bad happened and it was your job to make sure he was properly dealt with and punished. But you didn’t do your job and you let me down.”

As chief inspector of constabulary Tom Winsor told the BBC: “The police need to institutionalise a culture of believing the victim. Every time.” It really is that simple.

In one case study cited in the inspectorate’s document, officers chose to no-crime a report of rape made by a 13-year-old girl, because of a lack of evidence or witnesses: “From the investigation notes it appeared the officers did not believe the victim and had for that reason no-crimed the report.” In another example, officers no-crimed a report of rape on the basis that the victim – when intoxicated and told to do so by her attacker – had removed some of her clothing. The case study explained: “Whilst they had initially recorded the incident as a rape, they no-crimed it on the basis that because she had taken some of her clothes off, she must be presumed to have consented to sexual intercourse, despite her insistence that she did not.” In common with so many others in our society, these examples suggest that even the police do not understand the concept of consent.
posted by jaguar at 10:08 AM on November 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


As chief inspector of constabulary Tom Winsor told the BBC: “The police need to institutionalise a culture of believing the victim. Every time.” It really is that simple.

I assure you it is not so simple.

Father claims police covered up son’s murder by Westminster paedophile ring

Rotherham scandal: IPCC to investigate 10 officers over handling of child sex claims
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:44 AM on November 23, 2014 [1 favorite]




I don't think this has been linked yet, but Jezebel has an interview with one of the women in the article about her experience with UVA's system. Her description of the trial is intense and disturbing.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:57 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


That Jezebel piece is really worth reading. Thank you for sharing it.

And I am seeing red after reading this:
Another problem was—well, to give background, Dean Laushway really went to bat for me. He found out about my story, and in the spring of 2006, he brought charges against the frat to UJC, saying they had violated numerous policies.

(Ed. note: UJC is the University Judiciary Committee, which hears cases of alleged misconduct by UVA students or student groups. Anyone can file a case, and the UJC can impose any sanction. This is separate from the Honor Committee, another internal governing entity at UVA, which adjudicates allegations of lying, cheating, and stealing, and only has the single sanction of expulsion.)

Was his complaint successful?

Yes, they lost their charter and were kicked off campus.

It's good that you didn't have to bring that charge yourself.

Yeah. In that trial, I was a witness and not the complainant.

But afterwards, in response, the president of the fraternity filed honor charges against me and my two friends—saying that we had lied at the door about our age, and that we had admitted as much in the UJC trial. He served us with papers on a Friday and we couldn't do anything about it until Monday. And we had lied about our age, and we'd admitted it. There was clear grounds to expel us. We were terrified. (Ed. note: as the Rolling Stone article pointed out, 183 students have been expelled from UVA for honor-code violations, but none have ever been expelled for sexual assault.)

The charges quickly came under bias review, and they were dismissed, but the fraternity president just got to walk away knowing it would stay on all of our records that we were accused. One of my friends had to have Dean Laushway vouch for her before taking the bar exam, and has had to deal with this accusation every time she's applied for a government job.
posted by jaguar at 4:26 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


The freshman is charged for lying about her age, but the frat boys who don't check ID, pressure them into drinking a half dozen double vodkas and block the girl's friends from coming upstairs to look for her aren't charged for anything? WTF
posted by msalt at 4:49 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


The story has made the front page of the NYTimes, too (article).
posted by Dip Flash at 6:20 PM on November 24, 2014


The story has made the front page of the NYTimes, too (article).

I just saw that, most notable perhaps, is the link to a video interview of Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo:

The administration has drawn fire for its unsteady response to the issue and the report, published last week by Rolling Stone, most recently for a video of a dean acknowledging weeks before the article that even students who had admitted to sexual assault had invariably escaped expulsion — and that, in fact, no one had been expelled for sexual assault in at least seven years.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:48 PM on November 24, 2014


Holy shit, that WUVA interview with Dean Eramo. You can hear the exasperation in the interviewers voice. Fast-forward to 11:25 to get to the meat of the "why do we expel for cheating but not for sexual misconduct" part. It's absolutely infuriating and crazy-making and I don't have the patience to transcribe quotes from it. But luckily, here's a Jezebel write-up of the video that pretty much covers it.
posted by mhum at 7:18 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


"They're looking to be able to look into the eyes of that other person and say, 'You've wronged me in some way,'" she says. "And they're generally feeling quite satisfied with the fact that the person has admitted that they've done something wrong." And then, a bit later in the interview, "You'd be very surprised how often I hear, 'I do not want to get him in trouble."
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhh. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed and as if the assault was your fault and as if you are the one causing all the trouble, rather than holding the rapist accountable, is a normal initial psychological response to experiencing sexual trauma in a victim-blaming culture, NOT a reason not to hold rapists accountable. GAH.
posted by jaguar at 8:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


"Greek leaders at San Diego State University have announced that they were suspending all fraternity parties and social functions indefinitely after a weekend that not only involved taunting people protesting sexual assault, but also the seventh sexual assault at a fraternity house since the semester began in September, U-T San Diego reports.

The InterFraternity Council admitted that the fraternity members who pelted participants in Friday’s Take Back the Night protest against sexual assault with eggs and waved dildos at them behaved in a manner that did “not reflect the values of the Greek community at SDSU.”"

Of course they didn't. They reflected the values of, um, other communities. Yeah.
posted by rtha at 1:32 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am so ready for the moment when association with a Frat becomes an inescapable mark of shame in society.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:06 AM on November 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


Some recent articles relating to concerns about the journalistic practices used in the presentation of this story:

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/12/sabrina_rubin_erdely_uva_why_didn_t_a_rolling_stone_writer_talk_to_the_alleged.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/12/02/rolling-stone-whiffs-in-reporting-on-alleged-rape/

http://www.richardbradley.net/shotsinthedark/2014/11/24/is-the-rolling-stone-story-true/

The author was also interviewed on the Double X podcast where she skirts around questions about her attempts to contact the alleged perpetrators:

http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/doublex_gabfest/2014/11/the_double_x_gabfest_on_uva_frats_and_rape_in_rolling_stone_husbands_hurting.html
posted by smithsmith at 10:41 PM on December 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh Jesus Disingenuous Christ.

[on another case] "I was like, 'He's gone!' 'Cause he's a multiple assailant, I'd been told so many times that that was grounds for expulsion!" So she was stunned when she learned his actual penalty: a one-year suspension. (Citing privacy laws, UVA would not comment on this or any case.)

Of all her assailants, Drew was the one she wanted to see held accountable – but with Drew about to graduate, he was going to get away with it.

"Under investigation," President Sullivan insists when I ask her to elaborate on how the university is handling the case. "I don't know how else to spell that out for you."

Two years later, Jackie, now a third-year, is worried about what might happen to her once this article comes out. Greek life is huge at UVA, with nearly one-third of undergrads belonging to a fraternity or sorority, so Jackie fears the backlash could be big – a "shitshow" predicted by her now-former friend Randall, who, citing his loyalty to his own frat, declined to be interviewed. But her concerns go beyond taking on her alleged assailants and their fraternity. Lots of people have discouraged her from sharing her story, Jackie tells me with a pained look, including the trusted UVA dean to whom Jackie reported her gang-rape allegations more than a year ago. On this deeply loyal campus, even some of Jackie's closest friends see her going public as tantamount to betrayal.

And yet the UVA public-relations team seemed unenthused about this article, canceling my interview with the head of UVA's Sexual Misconduct Board, and forbidding other administrators from cooperating; even students seemed infected by their anxiety about how members of the administration might appear. And when President Sullivan was at last made available for an interview, her most frequently invoked answer to my specific questions about sexual-assault handling at UVA – while two other UVA staffers sat in on the recorded call – was "I don't know."


So, we have an administration that was reluctant to cooperate with the reporter, students who were reluctant to be interviewed, a perpetrator that's graduated, an interview subject who is already anticipating backlash for participating. Someone who claims to be wondering why the writer didn't track down and interview any of the alleged perpetrators, none of whom are named strikes me as either incredibly dense or straight trolling.

Leaving aside, anyway, that the actual point of the story was to expose the pattern of apathetic behavior by the administration, but yeah, obviously let's turn this into an investigation of the victim's credibility. Everyone knows that's the only question that matters when it comes to rape.
posted by kagredon at 11:02 PM on December 2, 2014 [9 favorites]


Any chance we can discuss this without immediately resorting to name-calling or assuming bad will?

I actually am completely on-board with the idea that UVA's system for supporting victims of sexual assault is woefully and disgracefully inadequate. Furthermore, the idea that psychopaths such as those depicted in the article might still be walking amongst us sickens me to my very core and I hope they all face the full weight of the law.

That said, there are legitimate questions about the due dillegence carried out by the journalist in reporting this story. Not even attempting to approach the perpetrators - and this is Journalism 101 - smacks of shoddy journalism. It could well be that they would have offered nothing more than a "no comment" brush-off, which is telling in itself, but, that fact reflects poorly on the journalist's credibility.

It would be a genuine tragedy if this slipshod approach tarnished the legitimate claims of the victim and only highlights the need for scrupulous reporting on these matters.
posted by smithsmith at 12:03 AM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Slate interview has the journalist saying that they reached out to the frat and spoke to the chapter president (who is, indeed, cited in the article.) Characterizing that as "not even attempting to approach the perpetrators" is lying. Slate's article is a masterpiece of disingenuous shit-stirring, but who the fuck is surprised?

It would be a genuine tragedy if this slipshod approach tarnished the legitimate claims of the victim and only highlights the need for scrupulous reporting on these matters.

"actually it's about ethics in journalism"
posted by kagredon at 12:47 AM on December 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


Gee, for someone who hurls around the term "disingenuous" so freely you may want to take the plank out of your own eye. Contacting the Chapter President is NOT the same thing as approaching the alleged perpetrators. Not by a long shot.

Given the information known about "Drew" (his graduation year, the fact that he worked as a lifeguard, was a fraternity member, took an anthropology class etc.) it would not have been difficult to examine this line of inquiry and, in fact, it's routine journalistic practice. By the reporter's own admission she didn't do this.

I have an issue with the fastidiousness of the reporting in this article, not the claims of the victim therein. That doesn't make me a gamegater rape apologist regardless of your sad attempts at ad hominem.
posted by smithsmith at 3:39 AM on December 3, 2014 [12 favorites]


So I was thinking about this more, and specifically how weird the whole timeline of this was. Namely, it's not actually a "revelation" that the RS article doesn't mention contacting the perpetrators. That is completely apparent to anyone who read the original article. No lids blown off of any covers here. And yet, overwhelmingly, articles reporting on this "controversy" have been over the last two days.

As best as I can construct a timeline:

11/19: original article published.
11/25: Richard Bradley blog post.
11/27: Double X podcast interview. Hanna Rosin asks several questions about Erdely's contact with the frat around the 5 minute mark, mainly in the context of trying to better understand the driving factors behind the rape. There's perhaps 3-4 minutes spent on the topic in a ~20 minute interview.
11/28: Paul Farhi of the Washington Post writes a piece on Erdely and the story. He remarks on the lack of input from the fraternity brothers, but is careful to contextualize it in the style and content of the piece.
[...]
12/2: Hanna Rosin and Paul Farhi publish the pieces

This seems very strange indeed. Surely, if the comments that Erdely made in her respective interviews with Rosin and Farhi were so damning, so indicative of faulty journalism, they could've written them up and published them same day. Both cite the other's interview in their respective pieces, so I guess it's possible that they only realized the depth of Erdely's depravity once they'd read each other over the holiday weekend, but so much of the same ground is covered in the two interviews that I'm skeptical.

But let's roll back now to 12/1, when Reason magazine's Robby Soave (whose previous input on the topic includes such lovely and nuanced pieces as "UVA (and Others) Admit the Obvious: Blame It On the Alcohol" and ""The UVA Rapists Should Not Have Been Expelled") publishes "Is The UVA Rape Story a Gigantic Hoax?" In it, he references the Washington Post interview and the previously mostly-unremarked-upon Richard Bradley post.

The next day, in Farhi's article, he references the Reason magazine article, as well as the Slate interview; later that evening, Slate publishes their own take. Most of the subsequent coverage pulls from Slate and WaPo.

So, basically by making the right inflammatory statement and name-checking the right interview, a rape apologist who writes for Reason has managed to drum up a controversy about something that everyone read the article already knew. Great.
posted by kagredon at 3:56 AM on December 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


(his graduation year, the fact that he worked as a lifeguard, was a fraternity member, took an anthropology class etc.)

actually, it was two different fraternity members who were the lifeguard and in the anthropology class. Have you read the article? Had you read the article, you might not have had your faith so shattered when you discovered that it didn't cite talking to any of the alleged perpetrators, since you'd already know that from reading the article.
posted by kagredon at 4:00 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Two minor amendments to the timeline: Farhi's piece was actually on 12/1 as well (but after the Reason article), and there was one more high-profile piece in the chain: after and making reference to Bradley, Soave, and Farhi, but preceding (and referenced in) the Slate piece is Judith Shulevitz for The New Republic.
posted by kagredon at 4:07 AM on December 3, 2014


It would be a genuine tragedy if this slipshod approach tarnished the legitimate claims of the victim

Let's be very clear that the approach would not be the thing tarnishing the legitimate claims of the victim: it would be the concern trolls using "ethics in journalism" to obscure the very real problem of the treatment of rape and sexual assault by the UVA administration, which no one involved disputes was accurately portrayed in the article.
posted by sallybrown at 6:44 AM on December 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


Now, where else have I heard that "Ethics in journalism" concern trolling just recently?
posted by DarlingBri at 9:32 AM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


smithsmith: It would be a genuine tragedy if this slipshod approach tarnished the legitimate claims of the victim

No need for ifs. The usual conservative suspects have already started proclaiming how this (almost here! just wait!) imminent debunking of the Rolling Stone article confirms that campus rape is no real problem, just a "moral panic" (the favored right-wing talking point).

The only glimmer of hope was a single article at the National Review saying "wait, I know it looks improbable but this hasn't been debunked yet." Of course, that is the one counterpoint to 5 articles dancing on the not-yet-dug grave of the RS article.
posted by msalt at 11:00 PM on December 4, 2014


There's a very good discussion about the reporting of the Rolling Stone story with journalist Lindsay Beyerstein on this week's FAIR Counterspin podcast/radio show. And here's Beyerstein's NY Observer article about it:
It’s good to be skeptical. But by throwing around words like “hoax” and invoking the specter of Steven Glass, critics are smearing both Ms. Erdely and Jackie.

The larger lesson is that we’d have a better idea of whether these allegations were true if the authorities in charge had actually investigated them.
posted by RogerB at 10:06 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


This just in:

To Our Readers:

Last month, Rolling Stone published a story titled "A Rape on Campus" by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which described a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity house; the university's failure to respond to this alleged assault – and the school's troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults. The story generated worldwide headlines and much soul-searching at UVA. University president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation and also to examine the way the school responds to sexual assault allegations.

Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie's story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone's editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie's credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie's account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn't confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.

In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.

Will Dana
Managing Editor



posted by chavenet at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


God damnit.
posted by msalt at 10:35 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Earlier this week, Jackie revealed to friends for the first time the full name of her alleged attacker, a name she had never disclosed to anyone. But after looking into that person’s background, the group that had been among her closest supporters quickly began to raise suspicions about her account. The friends determined that the student that Jackie had named was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and that other details about his background did not match up with information Jackie had disclosed earlier about her perpetrator.

The Post determined that the student Jackie named is not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and had never met her in person.


Oh Jesus Christ, what a mess. I feel sorry for her friends, particularly this one:

Alex Pinkleton, a close friend of Jackie’s who survived a rape and an attempted rape during her first two years on campus, said in an interview that she has had numerous conversations with Jackie in recent days and now feels misled.

“One of my biggest fears with these inconsistencies emerging is that people will be unwilling to believe survivors in the future,” Pinkleton said. “However, we need to remember that the majority of survivors who come forward are telling the truth.”

posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:36 AM on December 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Very interesting development -- is there any way to get this back in front of Mefi for discussion? I assume a new post would be deleted?
posted by Clustercuss at 10:50 AM on December 5, 2014


is there any way to get this back in front of Mefi for discussion? I assume a new post would be deleted?

The policy is a different question, but pretty much always FPPs benefit from slowing down a bit until there is substantive analysis and interesting writing, not just The Latest News.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:08 AM on December 5, 2014


Am I missing something, or does this latest (awful) news not actually change anything with regard to the administrative response to reports of sexual assault?
posted by rtha at 11:09 AM on December 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


Am I missing something, or does this latest (awful) news not actually change anything with regard to the administrative response to reports of sexual assault?

I think it's way too early to fully say. This set of articles casts serious doubt on her account of the assault; whether or not that includes her account of how she was treated by the university as well is not clear in the links above. The school's overall track record on that issue is another question entirely, and from the alumni reports it sounds terrible even if this particular account turns out to be fictitious from beginning to end, or turns out to be something more complicated.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:14 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


It would depend a bit on whether Jackie actually did report in the way she said she did, I guess. It certainly doesn't change the overall horribleness that most rape survivors face.
posted by jaguar at 11:14 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or, what Dip Flash said.
posted by jaguar at 11:15 AM on December 5, 2014


The University acknowledged she made a report earlier, but said that details in the RS story were new. I hope someone can find and solidify that there was an actual attack, to prevent the use of this as a cudgel by rape apologists -- "See? They're all fake!"

That article in the Washington Post that Arsenio Hall and Warren Oates posted is very in-depth, based in part on several interviews with Jackie that the Post had this last week. Must reading.
posted by msalt at 11:16 AM on December 5, 2014


I'm assuming that somebody or bodies at RS will be fired, yes?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:18 AM on December 5, 2014


I'm assuming that somebody or bodies at RS will be fired, yes?

I sure hope so. Their failure to do enough actual journalistic investigation may cause real damage to the effort put an end to rape culture on campus. The story could have been written with someone else's story as the focus. They could have simply left Jackie out because they weren't able to contact the alleged rapists and it appeared there hadn't been a party that night at that particular frat. Jackie, UVA, and readers would have been better off.
posted by Area Man at 11:30 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Based on what I've read so far today, it's my inclination to lean towards she has misremembered some pretty critical details but that an attack did occur. Quotes like this make me think trauma led to her having to slightly reconstruct some of what occurred after the fact because she was not gonna be a calm and collected observer of all details at the time.

“He never said he was in Phi Psi,” she said, while noting that she was positive that the date function and attack occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on Sept. 28, 2012. “I know it was Phi Psi because a year afterward my friend pointed out the building to me and said that’s where it happened.”

But, it seems like she is gonna lose hard in the court of public opinion on this. I felt like a lot of people were disinclined to believe her in the first place because the details of the attack were so horror movie terrible, people don't want to face up to the sort of horrors that really occur. So, rip a couple holes in the story and people start screaming hoax. I don't think this case is that simple.

If it is a hoax, those horrors are still being experienced by other people. It's no excuse to bury our heads in the sand about that. (But people will!)
posted by Drinky Die at 11:34 AM on December 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


Am I missing something, or does this latest (awful) news not actually change anything with regard to the administrative response to reports of sexual assault?

It doesn't change the facts of the administrative response, but it could greatly influence how colleges respond to rape allegations in the future.

The RS story made huge headlines, and provided a huge push for colleges to take rape allegations more seriously, treat the accusers more sensitively, and punish those accused more severely.

If it turns out that Jackie was not raped -- no rape occurred at all -- there could be a correspondingly huge backlash. The issues raised by professors at Harvard Law School, for example, that those accused were not given sufficient opportunity to respond to accusations -- will take on much more urgency. Of course, those who deny that rape is a problem at all on college campuses would also take this case as a rallying point.

Let's hope, hope, hope it doesn't go there. Oh god, please.
posted by alms at 11:35 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think any sexual assault survivor ever anywhere has said they are the perfect victim whose narrative of their assault is entirely clear and not confusing with all details perfectly pieced together. The burden for the perfect reportage and fact checking of this story lies on the reporters.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:40 AM on December 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


but it could greatly influence how colleges respond to rape allegations in the future.

Well, they could do worse than they currently do, I suppose. It might take some work on their part, but they could manage it.

/headdesk
posted by rtha at 11:40 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


The issues raised by professors at Harvard Law School should take on more urgency.

What happened here is a symptom of the "I Believe Rape Victims" mentality and, as long as that mentality being valorized continues, it'll happen again and again. It is perfectly ok for individuals to believe alleged rape victims or not. It is not ok for institutions, private or public, with power over the lives of others to simply decide to "believe rape victims". Rolling Stone tried it and got the expected outcome, and sooner rather than later.

What institutions should do is treat alleged rape victims seriously and with respect. That seriousness includes, despite what many people seem to think, investigating their claims with an open mind.
posted by bswinburn at 11:47 AM on December 5, 2014 [13 favorites]




The Post determined that the student Jackie named is not a member of Phi Kappa Psi and had never met her in person.

This is from the (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates quote above from the WaPo story, I just want to point out they removed the bolded part from the article.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:56 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


It'd be a good first step for "investigating them" to be a thing that happens at all.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:56 AM on December 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


The issues raised by professors at Harvard Law School should take on more urgency.

What happened here is a symptom of the "I Believe Rape Victims" mentality and, as long as that mentality being valorized continues, it'll happen again and again. It is perfectly ok for individuals to believe alleged rape victims or not. It is not ok for institutions, private or public, with power over the lives of others to simply decide to "believe rape victims". Rolling Stone tried it and got the expected outcome, and sooner rather than later.

What institutions should do is treat alleged rape victims seriously and with respect. That seriousness includes, despite what many people seem to think, investigating their claims with an open mind.


UVA as an institution did not investigate the rape, and indeed worked to kindly, quietly push it under the rug. The article's description of an institution indifferent to rape and sexual assault stands. The institution did not "believe the victim." No one was punished despite the horror of the survivor's story. Moreover, the Rolling Stone story named no one, so it can hardly be said that anyone's name has been forever ruined by the reporter's credulity. Emphasizing that an investigation which isn't even occurring should keep an open mind with respect to the guilt of the accused smacks of deeply misplaced priorities.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:12 PM on December 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


Moreover, the Rolling Stone story named no one, so it can hardly be said that anyone's name has been forever ruined by the reporter's credulity.

The frat certainly took a hit as a group. It seems possible that since the accused is in a different frat, the victim's memory of which frat the attack occurred at was apparently based on what a friend told her a year later, and the frat claims evidence that they did not have a party that night...that she may have been attacked at a different frat house entirely. Rolling Stone could have found this out before running the story. They messed up big time.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:17 PM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


That's fair enough.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:20 PM on December 5, 2014


Hopefully Erdeley's career in journalism is over, and perhaps her editor's as well. There are so many people so ready to use a false or wrongly-detailed rape accusation that this sloppiness is worse than negligent. It's directly damaging to thousands of rape victims. There are really few things a journalist could do (short of false stories supporting a facist movement) that are worse.

As for the frat, my sympathy for them is somewhat undercut by the fact they they did have at least one gang-rape there, documented by a court conviction, which they managed to hide for 20 years. It only was revealed because one of the perps was working his steps in AA and confessed to the victim repeatedly.
posted by msalt at 12:29 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Jackie is also a victim of the poor reporting, because Rolling Stone backing down makes her look like a liar when misremembered details is another possibility. If Rolling Stone had found those issues out ahead of time they could have presented a version of her story that stuck closer to the verifiable facts or just written Jackie out of it. Now an uphill battle to believed becomes much more difficult.)
posted by Drinky Die at 12:30 PM on December 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


FWIW there is some interesting, er, clarification from the Washington Post on Twitter right now, after its initial story, directly asserting that Jackie had lied, went through an at first totally silent batch of major corrections.

Jamison Foser: The Washington Post has deleted a claim that Jackie never met the student she named ... Now the Post has added a misleading “clarification.” In fact, Post initially claimed IT “determined” they didn’t meet

Michelle Boorstein of the Post: Our Metro editor tells me it was an editing error, not a deliberate decision ... Fast-moving story and things got moved away from their context. It was seen quickly - including by you - and we fixed

Until more is clear here, I really don't think it's possible to conclude anything much about how severe Erdely's misreporting was, or how badly that affects the credibility of the rest of Jackie's story — never mind that the focus on that one story's precise details is mostly serving as a distraction from the massive systemic failures also reported in the RS article.
posted by RogerB at 12:34 PM on December 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am so fucking angry about this. Rolling Stone, you miserable piece of shit. In your rush for pageviews and to capitalize on the current conversation on campus rape you've now done real, actual damage to the fight against rape culture. This retraction is now going to be fodder for every single rape apologist in every conversation about the trustworthiness of rape victims for years to come. There is so much fucking glee already about this retraction, and I've already seen it used in conversation about why Cosby should be given the benefit of the doubt. You should've gotten your story straight before publishing. There was a massive story here about the administration's willful negligence - The Post even admitted that they talked to two additional women who had also been raped at UVA - without focusing on Jackie, who barely wanted to cooperate with you. But no, you had to sensationalize it with what amounts to horror porn. Fuck off.

And now you can't even be bothered to stand behind your assertions. If there were discrepancies, tell us what those discrepancies are, instead of just hand-waving it all off and implying that Jackie wasn't trustworthy. Is the discrepancy that a victim recalling a two-year-old traumatic assault might not remember every detail perfectly? Because boy do I have news for you about how the brain works.

Oh, and Washington Post, you can go fuck yourself too. It's funny how mistakes you make that lend more credibility to the victim don't get any attention called to it, huh? You can't get your own story straight but will cast aspersions on Jackie?

I just cannot today.
posted by Phire at 12:42 PM on December 5, 2014 [59 favorites]


I have no way of knowing but have a suspicion (given the basic journalistic failure here) that this may be less a story of a reporter and/or editor being duped than of a reporter and/or editor with an agenda. Journalists who let their agenda trump the facts end up undermining their own agenda.
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:14 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


They're talking about this on MSNBC right now. It sounds like Rolling Stone completely failed in basic tenets of journalism here; for example, they appear to have agreed as a prerequisite for the alleged victim to talk to them that they would not approach the now-dubiously-alleged rapist for comment. That's some shoddy journalism right there.
posted by Justinian at 1:22 PM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just did a Google search for "UVA fraternity party September 28 2012" and found plenty to indicate that this was a real issue on campus at that time:

-- 2 recent rapes of students, and chief of campus police sends email warning that men get to "a point of no return sexually" (October 4, 2012)

-- Playboy names UVA the nation's biggest party school, and #2 in sex" (whatever that means) (9/25/2012)
posted by msalt at 1:31 PM on December 5, 2014


From the WaPo article: "Overwhelmed from sitting through interviews with the writer, Jackie said she asked Erdely to be taken out of the article. She said Erdely refused and Jackie was told that the article would go forward regardless."
posted by just another scurvy brother at 1:44 PM on December 5, 2014


What a clusterfuck. Jesus.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:47 PM on December 5, 2014


If there were discrepancies, tell us what those discrepancies are, instead of just hand-waving it all off and implying that Jackie wasn't trustworthy

At least some of the discrepancies have been identified. For example, according to this CNN story:
According to the magazine, Jackie, who at the time had just started her freshman year at the Charlottesville school, claimed she was raped by seven men at Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, while two more gave encouragement, during a party.

However, the University of Virginia's Phi Kappa Psi chapter did not have a party the night of September 28, 2012, the date when the reported attack occurred, the fraternity chapter's lawyer, Ben Warthen, told CNN. He said email records and Inter-fraternity Council records prove there was no party on that date.

Warthen said there were other discrepancies in the accuser's account. For example, the accused orchestrator of the alleged rape did not belong to the fraternity, the fraternity house has no side staircase, and there were no pledges at that time of year.
posted by Justinian at 2:24 PM on December 5, 2014


I feel like the Post article is hedging a bit on whether the author finds Jackie's story credible. It reports Rolling Stone's Note and potential discrepancies, but describes Jackie in what seem to be unusually sympathetic terms if the Post believes she invented the whole thing.
posted by sallybrown at 2:33 PM on December 5, 2014


He said email records and Inter-fraternity Council records prove there was no party on that date.

I don't know anything about how strict the IFC house-checking at UVA was during the time period in question, but the fact that there was no IFC-registered party does not conclusively show that there was no party.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:39 PM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Seems like something looking at their social media for that night might confirm or deny.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:44 PM on December 5, 2014


I feel like the Post article is hedging a bit on whether the author finds Jackie's story credible. It reports Rolling Stone's Note and potential discrepancies, but describes Jackie in what seem to be unusually sympathetic terms if the Post believes she invented the whole thing.

I'm not assuming she made this up. Two years after a traumatic even she may have had some of the details garbled. That doesn't make her a liar, but better reporting and/or a respect for her wishes would have resulted in Rolling Stone not running with her particular story.
posted by Area Man at 2:56 PM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Washington Post story, which appears to have more reporting than Rolling Stone's, has a curious omission. They say:

A name of an alleged attacker that Jackie provided to them for the first time this week, for example, turned out to be similar to the name of a student who belongs to a different fraternity, and no one by that name has been a member of Phi Kappa Psi. Reached by phone, that man, a U-Va. graduate, said Friday that he did work at the Aquatic and Fitness Center and was familiar with Jackie’s name. He said, however, that he had never met Jackie in person and had never taken her on a date. He also said that he was not a member of Phi Kappa Psi.

So the obvious question is, did his actual fraternity have a party that night? Do any of the other alleged assailants fit the members of the other frat?

Also, the Post is apparently not sold on this guy's version either. They originally reported as confirmed fact that he had never met Jackie in person, which is pretty dubious if they worked at the same swimming pool at the same time. Not long after, they quietly edited the article to indicate that him not being in Phi Kappa Psi is fact, but not having met her was just his claim.
posted by msalt at 3:04 PM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


One of the most disturbing aspects of this story is that Rolling Stone took Jackie's fears of reprisal seriously AND THEN APPARENTLY WENT AHEAD AND PUBLISHED HER STORY AGAINST HER WISHES DESPITE HER ASKING THEM NOT TO.

Holy shit.
posted by smithsmith at 3:27 PM on December 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


Some folks over at Rolling Stone better get shitcanned for this. Unbelievably irresponsible and damaging.

The context is totally different, but it reminds me of the very true fact that George W. Bush was an entitled, spoiled draft dodger, and yet when Dan Rather took the bait and did some (admittedly) sloppy journalism reporting it, it backfired on Rather and actually made Bush look better. Now rape apologists (not to mention, you know, rapists) will have pretty strong chaff to throw out there for years to come. So goddamn frustrating.
posted by zardoz at 4:24 PM on December 5, 2014 [8 favorites]






How long until "Jackie" gets outed when the WP is publishing first and last names of two of her close friends, saying where she grew up, and saying what she wanted to study and who her childhood hero was? If she was at risk after the RS article, she's triply at risk now that WP and RS are intimating she cried rape. Despicable journalism all around.

I have to say, nothing I read by even credible news sources like the NYT and NPR about organizations I know very well is ever wholly accurate. It's laughably inaccurate most of the time. They routinely make mistakes or assumptions that could be so easily fact-checked.
posted by semacd at 5:44 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Washington Post has interviewed Jackie, now a 20-year-old junior at the school, and others involved in the case in recent days and tried to verify the story. The paper reported that Jackie’s close friends said they believe something traumatic happened to Jackie but have come to doubt her account because her story has changed and key points cannot be verified.
That seems reasonable. It's a shame Rolling Stone didn't talk to her friends before turning this into a Big Deal.

Now what appears to be a hurt and confused young woman gets to work out her difficulties in the public eye and one more larger-than-life example of misplaced rape accusations is let loose on the world. Pretty crappy all around.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:50 PM on December 5, 2014


IF you haven't read the Washington Post article from today, you really should.
They did talk to Jackie's friends, and to Jackie herself. The friends said that she only revealed to them new details this week, which caused the friends to question the details of her story for the first time. And Jackie herself started to say in different interviews that some details might have been wrong in the Rolling Stone story.
posted by msalt at 7:27 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The WaPo story makes is clear that even her closest friends and confidantes have lost faith in at best the details of her story and at worst the whole thing. I wonder if the fraternity will sue the school or Rolling Stone? RS, at least, may deserve it. What a lapse in journalistic judgment.
posted by Justinian at 8:21 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, can someone confirm whether or not I'm reading the last paragraph of the WaPo article right? It reads to me like Jackie is saying she knows the alleged attack happened at the Phi Psi fraternity house because a friend who wasn't present at the incident told her that's where it happened a year after the date in question? It's kind of confusing.
posted by Justinian at 8:24 PM on December 5, 2014


That's how I read it. Another interpretation of the quote might be, "I'm sure that was the house because a friend pointed it out later and confirmed my recollection." But that isn't what the quote says. But since this is talking to reporters who are double checking her story, I could see that being the intended meaning.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:29 PM on December 5, 2014


That makes sense. If it's what they meant.
posted by Justinian at 8:33 PM on December 5, 2014


I'm reminded of the psychologist Rebecca Campbell, who we discussed not long ago on the blue. She explains how as a normal result of a rape, a person will often give contradictory or confusing accounts, and exhibit other behaviors that can make them less credible-seeming. I have no idea what's going on in the UVA case, and it sure seems like the journalists screwed up, but it's not as simple as "some details changed or are wrong, so the whole thing must be made up."
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:13 AM on December 6, 2014 [19 favorites]


Everything about this is fucking terrible.
posted by unixrat at 5:29 AM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know who I'm more mad at, RS or WP. I really think WP has all but outed her. And why RS used her real first name boggles my mind when they changed so many others and it doesn't sound like she wanted to participate in the story by the end. Not to mention WP's own errors. Hannah Rosin's tone - practically assuming the story couldn't be true bevause it's so horrible - when we know from plenty of other incidents that gang rapes of girls including with foreign objects do occur. The Richmond High rape where twenty people watched the gang rape for a couple hours. The Vanderbilt alleged gang rape that is still being adjudicated. The media is just sickening me all around with this story. I don't think it is an anomaly: I really think this is how reporting happens for the most part these days.

I don't know if I believe Jackie. I didn't know when I first read the story. But RS and the WP treated her horribly and should have been protecting her, and RS owes a huge apology to that frat.
posted by semacd at 6:12 AM on December 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


I know that the University still fucked up, since this wasn't addressed properly at the time it occurred.
posted by mikelieman at 6:22 AM on December 6, 2014 [5 favorites]




I'm not willing to assume that because some details were wrong, Jackie obviously made up the entire story.

But if this should happen to you, Genevieve Valentine posted a very helpful checklist of what to do.
If the story goes public, prepare for a journalist to ask you questions about the rape, enough to make a story from. They might manipulate your story, but that's what journalists do, sometimes; if you feel out of control, that's no different than how it's felt since it happened to you. Laws of physics.

[...]

Please be advised: If there are "discrepancies" in your account, the magazine will point to you and sidle quietly out of the way. Universities that had been on the verge of having to look at the rapes on their campuses will breathe a sigh of relief. It's so much easier to call one woman a liar and be done with it. No rapes can even happen at Duke any more. They only ever need to discredit one.
posted by jeather at 9:19 AM on December 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


> The lesson of Rolling Stone and UVA: protecting victims means checking their stories

That's one attitude, and I believe it's the right one. But it will get your credentials as a victim's advocate revoked many places (of which metafilter notoriously is one) and make you a rapist-enabling tool of the patriarchy. Emily Renda (U.Va.'s project coordinator for sexual misconduct, policy and prevention, and a member of the governor's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence) is quoted as saying

"It's an advocate's job to believe and support, never to play investigator or adjudicator"

The question occurs to me often: is it possible, by metafilter's lights, to be a good and honorable person and still care about facts and evidence? Some of the comments up at the top of the thread, such as "Burn it to the motherfucking ground" with (as of now) 79 favorites and "it would be okay if they all died a lot" with 64, on no better evidence than claims in a rock'n'roll tabloid, suggest that it just isn't.
posted by jfuller at 9:44 AM on December 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


The lesson of Rolling Stone and UVA: protecting victims means checking their stories

I'd rephrase that as "protecting victims means taking their stories seriously," which is patently not happening now in most cases. That means having the resources and institutional commitment to investigate fully, and to make sure that everyone's federally mandated rights are being respected -- in other words, to be compliant with both the letter and spirit of laws like Title IX for both accuser and accused.

There is a need for an advocate who is there simply to support the victim, and there is a need for an engaged and substantive process. In some cases that is going to disprove the accusations; in many more cases that would mean finding that something wrong indeed occurred and making sure that correct and fair consequences ensue.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:48 AM on December 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


No rapes can even happen at Duke any more. They only ever need to discredit one.

Yep.

is it possible, by metafilter's lights, to be a good and honorable person and still care about facts and evidence? Some of the comments up at the top of the thread, such as "Burn it to the motherfucking ground" with (as of now) 79 favorites and "it would be okay if they all died a lot" with 64, on no better evidence than claims in a rock'n'roll tabloid, suggest that it just isn't.

Believing rape victims and advocating violence are not the same thing.

Believing rape victims as a reflex is a good thing, even if one is proved wrong occasionally (though I don't think this is a case of being proven wrong). It's actually how most people react to most stories, unless they're told by women, or black people, or other disadvantaged groups who are automatically treated as liars about their own experiences.
posted by jaguar at 10:23 AM on December 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


Matt Taibbi is tweeting about his experiences with Rolling Stone fact checking:

Matt Taibbi @mtaibbi
At RS, they don't accept notes as backup. You must have everything on tape or video, or sources must speak directly with fact-checkers
-
It usually takes longer to fact-check a Rolling Stone feature than it does to write it. Each review is like an IRS audit. It's miserable.
-
I was so surprised because Coco McPherson's fact-checking operation is so intense that it's nearly caused me nervous breakdowns in the past
-
People also need to understand that the mistake here did not involve the fact-checking department.

posted by Drinky Die at 10:54 AM on December 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


Emily Renda (U.Va.'s project coordinator for sexual misconduct, policy and prevention, and a member of the governor's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence) is quoted as saying

"It's an advocate's job to believe and support, never to play investigator or adjudicator"

The question occurs to me often: is it possible, by metafilter's lights, to be a good and honorable person and still care about facts and evidence?

I think you may be misunderstanding Renda's use of the word "advocate" here. I'm not 100%, but I believe she was using the term advocate in the sense that it's often used by groups that work with battered women and victims of sexual assault. It's not a generic term meaning "someone who stands with rape victims", but rather a specific role of someone who has training to help assault victims navigate their options and heal after an assault. Not quite a counselor or social worker, but along those lines.

In that case, yes, an advocate's role is not to fact-check but to provide emotional and practical support. And it's important that they do so because the goal is to help the victim heal and/or navigate the system to get the resources they need, not necessarily to bring the perpetrator to justice.
posted by lunasol at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think this is new detail, though it is confusing because it seems like WaPo just popped it into the middle of the previous story they published.
A student identified as “Andy” in the Rolling Stone article said in an interview with The Post Friday night that Jackie did call him and two other friends for help a few weeks into the fall semester in 2012. He said Jackie said that “something bad happened” and that he ran to meet her on campus, about a mile from the school’s fraternities.

The student, who said he never spoke to a Rolling Stone reporter, said Jackie seemed “really upset, really shaken up” but disputed other details of that article’s account. Rolling Stone said that the three friends found Jackie in a “bloody dress,” with the Phi Kappa Psi house looming in the background, and that they debated “the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape” before advising against seeking help. He said none of that is accurate.

“Andy” said Jackie said she had been at a fraternity party and had been forced to perform oral sex on a group of men, but he does not remember her identifying a specific house. He said he did not notice any injuries or blood but said the group offered to get her help. She, instead, wanted to return to her dorm, and he and the friends spent the night with her to comfort her at her request.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:53 PM on December 6, 2014


Thanks, I just came here to post that. WTF, WaPo, with these unmarked updates? That is crucial context setting information in several ways -- the fact that RS never talked to him, his early recollection of events at the time, etc.

There was also one more paragraph added that I found significant:

“The perception that I’m gravitating toward is that something happened that night and it’s gotten lost in different iterations of the stories that have been told,” said the student who requested anonymity ["Andy"]. “Is there a possibility nothing happened? Sure. I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle."
posted by msalt at 1:06 PM on December 6, 2014


Jesus, it's like we have to start capturing articles with webcrawlers and checking them into a version control system to make sure these clowns aren't changing their stories without informing readers.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:26 PM on December 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


tonycpsu: It looks like there's already a project gathering changes to news articles for several sources, including the Washington Post. Here's its history of the changes to the WP article.
posted by metaquarry at 3:37 PM on December 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well, there goes my shot at riding the VC-funded gravy rocket to the moon.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:40 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


> history of the changes to the WP article.

Hopefully the new Take Back the Archive project at UVa is also capturing how these articles evolve. They don't have anything up yet beyond the introductory page so far, but it seems to me that how the media talks about this case -- and how the media's own narrative changes (ironic, considering how often victims are impugned for that, inc. Jackie) -- would be an important element. In any case, I think it's an interesting project, and one of the few positive (but sadly necessary) things to emerge from this.
posted by Westringia F. at 5:22 PM on December 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I thought this Slate piece on the whole mess did a good job summing up the possible ramifications of Rolling stone's lack of due diligence.
posted by misha at 9:26 PM on December 6, 2014


Rolling Stone quietly changes its apology
But Saturday, much of that language was suddenly missing, despite the post's continued publication date of Dec. 5 and without mention of an update or correction. The new concluding paragraph acknowledged that the magazine made mistakes, then said "these mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie."

The original version of the note was signed by Will Dana, Rolling Stone's managing editor. By Saturday, Dana's signature had disappeared and the note had grown from a total of three paragraphs to four.
Well would you look at that. An admission of guilt that gets no attention called to it whatsoever.
posted by Phire at 8:14 AM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


That Slate piece got very victim-blamey. We do not hold rape survivors up to a "lower" standard of evidence, no. Wondering if frat members are rapists is not the same as thinking a woman is lying if she says she has been raped, no. Argh, what is wrong with journalists?
posted by jaguar at 9:00 AM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Slate has been horrible on this issue.

For how many crimes do we scrutinize victims to make sure they aren't lying or otherwise responsible for their own attack?

Only 2; sex crimes, and violence by police. I think the common denominator is that the perpetrators aren't criminals, others; they are people we like, often people who look like us, and we don't want to believe they could have done such a thing.
posted by msalt at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


As if things couldn't get any worse, per Jezebel, Jackie's been doxxed.
posted by evoque at 9:37 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised it took this long. I hope she has a strong base of family and friend support (and at this point, hopefully some good legal representation) to try to shield her from even more harm as a result of this horrible combination of journalistic malpractice and whatever actually occurred to her that led her to tell her story.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2014


This Wikipedia article on Sabrina Erdely sprang up literally overnight. It's toned down a little form, which was pretty much a pure attack peice, but it's still pretty gross.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on December 7, 2014


Way to go, Rolling Stone. Now the GamerGate types are out in full force.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:57 AM on December 7, 2014


As if things couldn't get any worse, per Jezebel, Jackie's been doxxed.

That is disgustingly fucked up, but completely unsurprising. FFS.

(Note that the Charles Johnson who doxxed Jackie is not the Charles Johnson from little green footballs, who is angry about the doxxing. I was confused at first.)
posted by homunculus at 12:13 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, LGF is Charles F. Johnson, and the doxxing was Charles C. Johnson, who previously got tempbanned from Twitter for doxxing Nina Pham (one of the nurses who contracted ebola in Texas) and is strangely preoccupied with Barack Obama's sexuality.
posted by kagredon at 12:32 PM on December 7, 2014


Thanks for the tip on that wikipedia article, ArtW. It's better now.
posted by msalt at 12:47 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Before Chuck Johnson doxxed Jackie, MRA/PUA ghouls Roosh V and Matt Forney discussed whether or not to doxx her. (The name is not revealed in this screenshot.)
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I continue to be puzzled by the Washington Post's editing on this issue. They now have published accounts by two of the three friends who met Jackie on the night of the incident (according to both RS and the Post).

One account is Andy's, which was added to the Friday story in it's TENTH revision, without any notes about an update. The other was tacked on at the end of this article: U-Va. remains resolved to address sexual violence as Rolling Stone account unravels

It really seems that they're burying the lede in both cases. You have a new, internally consistent narrative based on several first hand reports: that Jackie met her friends after an incident in the fall of 2012, that she was visibly distraught but not bloodied or visibly injured. That she said she had been forced to peform oral sex on a group of men but did not name the fraternity she had partied at. That they suggested she get medical treatment but she demurred, saying she just wanted to go home, and asked them to spend the night with her, which they did.

The Post also quotes a roommate who said that Jackie became suddenly despondent that falll but didn't say anything until January, when she described a rape.
posted by msalt at 12:58 PM on December 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


when RooshV is your voice of reason and restraint, you know something's gone wrong
posted by kagredon at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2014


The second WashPo account by a friend who met Jackie that night is by "Cindy." She confirms "Andy"'s account but said something I find very strange. After recounting that Jackie said she was forced to perform oral sex on a group of men, and was distraught, and asked them to stay with her that night which she did, Cindy says

"That night was not very significant. I remember it, but it was not very dramatic.”

I just can't wrap my head around that. What would a dramatic or significant night look like?
posted by msalt at 1:13 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also from that article: "The student ["Cindy"] said Jackie made no claims of a gang rape and did not identify the fraternity where she said she had partied. “Cindy” said Jackie told one of the friends there that a group of men had forced her to perform oral sex."

What? How is saying that a group of men had forced her to perform oral sex not making a claim of gang rape?
posted by Westringia F. at 1:17 PM on December 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


>> The student, who said he never spoke to a Rolling Stone reporter, said Jackie seemed “really upset,
>> really shaken up” but disputed other details of that article’s account. Rolling Stone said that the
>> three friends found Jackie in a “bloody dress,” with the Phi Kappa Psi house looming in the background,
>> and that they debated “the social price of reporting Jackie’s rape” before advising against seeking help.
>> He said none of that is accurate.
> posted by Drinky Die at 3:53 PM on December 6 [+] [!]


Well that makes two of the three "friends" (whose behavior, as reported by Rolling Stone, left several mefi users so shocked and unhappy upthread) who have now said they were never interviewed and RS's/Erdely's account of them is fiction. The friend identified by RS as "Cindy" now says

Jackie appeared distraught that night but was not hurt physically and was not bleeding. The student said Jackie made no claims of a gang rape and did not identify the fraternity where she said she had partied. “Cindy” said Jackie told one of the friends there that a group of men had forced her to perform oral sex.

The student said there was never any discussion among Jackie and the group involving how their reputations or social status might be affected by seeking help.

The student said that when she read the Rolling Stone account, she felt betrayed. “It’s completely false,” she said, noting that she was not contacted or interviewed by a Rolling Stone reporter.


(on preview I see msalt got "Cindy's" refutation up first.)


You know, comment posters in the earlier 95% of the thread (from original fpp on November 19, 2014 to about halfway through day before yesterday, December 5) didn't do even a little bit better that Rolling Stone did at distinguishing substantiated facts from unsupported assertions and flat-out making shit up. Why not? Why not? You people are so good at that on most occasions. What was it about this particular outrage pill that was so delicious that it had to be swallowed whole?


> I just can't wrap my head around that. What would a dramatic or significant night look like?

One, maybe, on which your friend does have a bloody dress and does want to be taken to the hosptal instead of just back to the dorm?


N.b. if it gives anyone any comfort, the "Grab its motherfucking leg" bit will turn out to be outrage-sweetening by somebody also. I'll bet my own leg on it.
posted by jfuller at 1:22 PM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Because all the time victims of sexual assault are not believed. We have a moral and ethical duty to believe someone who says they have been assaulted, because they virtually always have. Sometimes we'll get things wrong. And it's worth noting that it's the details that seem to be at question here, not that she was in fact assaulted.

This is not to say that RS didn't make a dog's breakfast of this entire thing, which is a problem, not least because it contributes to the societal attitude that we shouldn't believe victims.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:29 PM on December 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Because the reported situation, or a variation of the reported situation, is a horribly familiar one for a lot of people commenting and reading here. And because it rings true in the narrative, and true in many of the details. And because it is very rare to read these details in a widely distributed magazine article.

I guess I don't understand why you feel personally victimized by this article and the response here. While there are discrepancies and poor reporting in this particular story, the broader narrative remains true. Sexual assault is rife on college campuses. Universities do a terrible job of dealing with them. Greek life can often be implicated. This is a conversation that needs to happen and it is pretty sickening that this article has poisoned it.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:42 PM on December 7, 2014 [17 favorites]


> comment posters in the earlier 95% of the thread (from original fpp on November 19, 2014 to about halfway through day before yesterday, December 5) didn't do even a little bit better that Rolling Stone did at distinguishing substantiated facts from unsupported assertions and flat-out making shit up. Why not?

Because it is the job of the journalist to do fact-checking, not that of the reader, and it is entirely reasonable for the reader to assume that the fact-checking had been done and respond accordingly. Note that you yourself are assuming that the people named as "Cindy" and "Andy" by the WaPo are indeed the friends referred to in the RS article, not impostors, on the basis that WaPo has done its fact-checking soundly -- a completely reasonable assumption, and not any different from that of the commenters you're criticizing.

And what's more, while the case as described in RS was egregious, it was not so egregious as to be incredible. You may find this commentary in Politico interesting: Why We Believed Jackie's Rape Story.
posted by Westringia F. at 1:46 PM on December 7, 2014 [18 favorites]


[A few comments removed, cool it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:59 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


not least because it contributes to the societal attitude that we shouldn't believe victims

Not trolling: How do we reconcile the idea that this is an invalid concept when it would seem to be an attitude informed by a series of very high profile events as opposed to the attitude that is entirely shaped on political orthodoxy?

We have made our outrage-moral-panic bed and now we will lie in it, I guess.
posted by rr at 3:02 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why We Believed Jackie's Rape Story.

This is ridiculous. "We were upset, so there must be a reason, so even if the story turns out to be made up, we should feel justified for our jumping to conclusions and outrage anyway because it feels right."

Complete horseshit.
posted by rr at 3:04 PM on December 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


This is ridiculous.

No more ridiculous than "the story sounds too sensational to be believable, even though there are students and faculty coming out of the woodwork to say that they aren't surprised", c.f. the Richard Bradley article.
posted by kagredon at 3:14 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


There is a lot of distance to cover between "This young woman was sexually assaulted and was mistaken on details" (memory, particularly memory related to trauma, is a very tricky thing) and "made up."

Not trolling: How do we reconcile the idea that this is an invalid concept when it would seem to be an attitude informed by a series of very high profile events as opposed to the attitude that is entirely shaped on political orthodoxy?

Because false accusations of rape are in the minority. 4-8% of reported rapes are false allegations, per the experts in the field. And it's probably also worth considering that given the prevalence of sexual assault in our culture whether or not there are vested interests in presenting the falsified claims louder than the reality.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Because false accusations of rape are in the minority

Yes, that is provably true, however the same rate does not appear to be true for the sensational cases that get people fired up.
posted by rr at 3:43 PM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


There is a lot of distance to cover between "This young woman was sexually assaulted and was mistaken on details" (memory, particularly memory related to trauma, is a very tricky thing) and "made up."

It is pretty clear that the details (thrown through a glass table, raped with a bottle, part of in initiation ritual) were not "confusion." They are very specific.
posted by rr at 3:44 PM on December 7, 2014


however the same rate does not appear to be true for the sensational cases that get people fired up.

I've actually been thinking about that since RS' retraction and can't decide if it's true or just confirmation bias. It could be that high-profile sensational stories are untrue more often than other cases (which seems plausible) or it could be that we just remember the ones like Duke that turn out to be false more than the ones that aren't false.
posted by Justinian at 3:48 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yes, that is provably true, however the same rate does not appear to be true for the sensational cases that get people fired up.

You seem to have missed the part of my comment where I addressed that specifically, which came just after the part you quoted.

It is pretty clear that the details (thrown through a glass table, raped with a bottle, part of in initiation ritual) were not "confusion." They are very specific.

Anyone claiming her gang rape wasn't part of an initiation ritual has a hell of a lot invested in claiming so. As for the rest... as I said, memory is a tricky thing; it is an ongoing story we tell ourselves about ourselves, and many if not all of us have absolutely unshakeable memories of things that never occurred and yet we would swear under oath were true and actually happened.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:50 PM on December 7, 2014


me: I just can't wrap my head around that. What would a dramatic or significant night look like?
jfuller: One, maybe, on which your friend does have a bloody dress and does want to be taken to the hosptal instead of just back to the dorm?

So you don't consider sexual assault significant, unless the victim's dress is bloody and you approve of her response afterwards?
posted by msalt at 4:06 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Anyone claiming her gang rape wasn't part of an initiation ritual has a hell of a lot invested in claiming so

This is exactly the problem I am describing. You have to prove that it wasn't something because it feels good to think it was. This is analogous in many ways to the satanic ritual abuse scandals previously in many ways.

You have zero evidence that it was such and if you would pause and think critically for a second you would realize that. Who is invested? The people who tried to turn this into a moral panic.
posted by rr at 4:28 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Rape is not a "moral panic." It is exceedingly common, rarely reported, and even more rarely prosecuted.
posted by jaguar at 4:34 PM on December 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


No one said "rape is a moral panic." This kind of case, like the Duke case, absolutely is.
posted by rr at 4:36 PM on December 7, 2014


He wasn't saying "rape" is a moral panic any more than calling the ritual satanic abuse stuff from the 80's a moral panic was saying that child abuse isn't common. He might not be right but at least argue with what he's saying and not a strawman.
posted by Justinian at 4:37 PM on December 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


You have to prove that it wasn't something because it feels good to think it was. This is analogous in many ways to the satanic ritual abuse scandals previously in many ways.

Neither of these assertions is particularly accurate.

Was this young woman sexually assaulted by several men? It would appear that is the case.

Are these men involved with fraternities? Even absent any other evidence, statistically this would seem to be the case given fraternity allegiance at UVA.

Is it possible, given what has been documented regarding fraternity initiations that sexual assault could be part of such an initiation? Yes.

Would it be very much within their own interested to categorically deny the last point? Yes.

The people who tried to turn this into a moral panic.

Let's be clear, here. Are you suggesting that campus sexual assault is not endemic? Or are you referring specifically and solely to Jackie, who is one voice out of thousands who are assaulted every year?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:40 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I love that last paragraph. It is the "have you stopped beating your wife" of discourse. I'm done; you're too invested.
posted by rr at 4:42 PM on December 7, 2014


It is a terrible thing to be invested in eliminating sexual assault, I agree.

And no, it wasn't that level of discourse at all. I was asking you to be specific.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:45 PM on December 7, 2014


No one said "rape is a moral panic." This kind of case, like the Duke case, absolutely is.

This case, as it was presented, is not particularly different from any other rape case. I don't understand what invisible line you're drawing. Women get raped at college, a lot. Women get raped at frats, a lot. Women get raped by multiple perpetrators, a lot.

There was already a push for colleges to do better at dealing with sexual assault on campus. It's not like this case started that push. And unlike ritual satanic abuse, rapes on campus actually do happen and should be addressed.
posted by jaguar at 4:46 PM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, fffm your question clearly wasn't a gotcha question. Guess rr didn't care that much after all.
posted by Justinian at 4:47 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


rr: the same rate [of false accusations of rape] does not appear to be true for the sensational cases that get people fired up.

Well, there is no evidence that this is a false accusation. The best reporting by far, in the Washington Post, has consistent evidence of some kind of sexual assault -- different than that described in the Rolling Stone article -- from four principles there at the time of the incident. Interestingly, the response of the University of Virginia did not deny an assault -- it said that they were familiar with the case and that there were "new details" in the RS article that they had not heard before. That is totally consistent with the WashPo narrative.

But even if it proves to be false, I think you're still wrong. You cite the "satanic ritual abuse scandals" which was one scandal (the McMartin case) in 1983 that's kind of different. The other favorite right-wing examples are the Tawana Brawley case (1987) and the Duke lacrosse case (2006). So, 3 in 31 years?

I don't have a roster of sensational rape cases, but there was Steubenville just this year -- confirmed by conviction and video, even though many of the usual apologists attacked the victim and called the accusations false. If there aren't more sensational true rape cases in the last 31 years, it's because apologists keep sensationalizing a tiny number of false accusations across the decades.
posted by msalt at 4:48 PM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Caitlin Flanagan, writer of "The Dark Power of Fraternities", appeared on the On the Media Special Edition, and no great friend of Fraternities, came out to say that the Rape as Initiation story struck out at her because she hadn't run into anything like that during her years of reporting on the Fraternity beat.

I think it's fair to say, at this point, that while rapes probably happen at fraternities on a semi-regular basis, that the idea it's part of their "official" initiation rituals is fiction.
posted by bswinburn at 4:49 PM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


On the other hand, fffm your question clearly wasn't a gotcha question.

It really wasn't. If there was some confusion in my phrasing, fine that's on me, but it truly was not any kind of gotcha.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:52 PM on December 7, 2014


Well I'm not rr but I figured he meant the "fraternity initiation" thing was the moral panic. It would be analogous to the ritual abuse part of the child abuse cases. But, hey, it was his comment and he doesn't seem to want to defend it so why should I.
posted by Justinian at 4:55 PM on December 7, 2014


I have not read a single serious response to the original RS article that even mentioned the frat initiation angle, let alone portrayed it as the most important aspect of the accusation. That's just a total red herring.
posted by jaguar at 4:59 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Was this young woman sexually assaulted by several men? It would appear that is the case.

Seriously, what are you basing this upon, other than your desire not to look credulous? The story, as told by RS, is unravelling, so should we not now be skeptical of any claims until some baseline of credibility is established? I do not know if Jackie was assaulted by several men. Neither do you.

Are these men involved with fraternities? Even absent any other evidence, statistically this would seem to be the case given fraternity allegiance at UVA.

According to what I've read, about a third of students there are in fraternities/sororities, but I didn't see a breakdown by gender, so maybe you can tell us how "statistically this would seem to be the case"? Maybe math can rescue your position where logic doesn't.
posted by amorphatist at 6:19 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Was this young woman sexually assaulted by several men? It would appear that is the case."


I don't know how anyone could arrive at this conclusion with any degree of confidence (at least not based on what's been made public).

The only evidence to support it are Jackie's statements. But at least some parts of her statements appear to be objectively false. And two different people, who were friends of hers, and with whom she spoke with immediately following the alleged assault, have both said her initial account was substantially different.

Nobody can seriously claim these are "minor discrepancies" we're talking about. These are inconsistencies substantial enough to call into question the overall believability of Jackie's statements. In the absence of corroborating evidence, any reasonable, objective person would conclude we have no way of knowing what happened.

FWIW, I deal with sexual assault and rape cases all the time on a professional level. I've spent many days combing through testimony and evidence from them as part of reaching various legal conclusions. I have a professional and ethical obligation to set aside any biases and approach these cases objectively. So that's my "filter" I guess.

Also, I'll gladly stipulate to the notion that reporting is often factually wrong and incomplete, but that cuts both ways, and only adds to my sense of doubt about what actually happened.
posted by mikeand1 at 6:31 PM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


The only evidence to support it are Jackie's statements. But at least some parts of her statements appear to be objectively false. And two different people, who were friends of hers, and with whom she spoke with immediately following the alleged assault, have both said her initial account was substantially different.

You contradicted yourself even in this paragraph. The statements of two individuals who spoke with her on the night of the alleged incident are themselves evidence beyond Jackie's statements. Both of those people reported that shortly after the alleged incident that she was visibly distraught and reported a sexual assault by several men at that time. There is also the prior history of gang rapes at a fraternity at this college, confirmed by a conviction. Those are all standards pieces of corroborating evidence.

FWIW, I deal with sexual assault and rape cases all the time on a professional level. I've spent many days combing through testimony and evidence from them as part of reaching various legal conclusions. I have a professional and ethical obligation to set aside any biases and approach these cases objectively. So that's my "filter" I guess.

Frankly, then, your dismissal of the widely reported evidence in this case -- including evidence you report reading -- confirms the common allegation that professionals such as yourself are often biased against complainants. I sincerely suggest you either reconsider your approach, or think about allowing others less inclined against complainants to do the work.
posted by msalt at 6:59 PM on December 7, 2014 [16 favorites]


"The best reporting by far, in the Washington Post, has consistent evidence of some kind of sexual assault. . ."


I'm not sure how you can characterize the WaPo's reported facts as "consistent evidence."

Jackie's friends were not independent eyewitnesses to the alleged assault. They can only repeat what she told them, and their accounts of what she told them are substantially different from what she says now.

Their value as eyewitnesses pertains mostly to Jackie's appearance and demeanor when she reported it to them. And what they say they saw is inconsistent with what she said -- e.g., that she was bloody and physically injured.

I'm not sure in what world this is considered "consistent evidence".
posted by mikeand1 at 7:01 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Both of those people reported that shortly after the alleged incident that she was visibly distraught and reported a sexual assault by several men at that time."


You are deliberately leaving out the inconsistencies and describing their statements in the most general terms possible in an effort to gloss over the inconsistencies.

"Frankly, then, your dismissal of the widely reported evidence in this case -- including evidence you report reading -- confirms the common allegation that professionals such as yourself are often biased against complainants."


I'm biased because I don't ignore inconsistencies in the evidence that weigh against the complainant? That's not how it works. An unbiased observer considers evidence from both sides.

I'm not going to waste any more time on this thread. The other poster here is right. You folks are completely invested in your version of events, and you're going to ignore anything that doesn't support your conclusions. Good night.
posted by mikeand1 at 7:10 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


An unbiased observer considers evidence from both sides.

Is there new evidence that you're aware of that changes what the university did or did not do - or has or has not done, over the decades, when it comes to handling sexual assault cases? Because that is a "side" that does not seem to have been upended by any of the corrections or revisions run by the WaPo or RS.
posted by rtha at 7:38 PM on December 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


The problem with this 'evidence from both sides' is that it's fundamentally unfair as long as we're teaching girls to 'be nice'.

I expect that with different societal training, this could be resolved, so if a guy threatens them instead of freezing up, they reach for a case-cutter and cut their face to ribbons. If their attacker survives, then there won't be any problems identifying them in a line-up, and there's SURE to be a police report.
posted by mikelieman at 8:16 PM on December 7, 2014


however the same rate does not appear to be true for the sensational cases that get people fired up.

I've actually been thinking about that since RS' retraction and can't decide if it's true or just confirmation bias. It could be that high-profile sensational stories are untrue more often than other cases (which seems plausible) or it could be that we just remember the ones like Duke that turn out to be false more than the ones that aren't false.


The issue is that about the only stamp of "Definitely happened" a lot of people will accept is an actual conviction, and even then there are doubters. An accuser recanting or being proven wrong by physical evidence showing the accused somewhere else can happen outside of court in front of the press and is solid and easy for people to believe. So, a lot of cases that might reasonably be viewed as true with an honest look at the evidence end up stuck in a limbo of doubt because there is no press conference to announce THIS HAPPENED FOR SURE.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:25 PM on December 7, 2014


I just hope that this article, and people's skepticism about it, and all the fallout from it, do not translate into making reporting sexual assault on and off campus into more of an ordeal than it already is. Especially the folks who've come in here and mentioned their work related to assessing sexual assault cases ... please don't use this as justification to give women reporting an even harder time.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:34 PM on December 7, 2014


Seriously, what are you basing this upon, other than your desire not to look credulous?

Telling a different story--that she was forced to perform oral sex on multiple men--isn't the same as wasn't sexually assaulted, but thank you for the sneering nastiness.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:36 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Telling a different story--that she was forced to perform oral sex on multiple men--isn't the same as wasn't sexually assaulted,

No, but neither does it mean that she *was* assaulted. So again, what are you basing your conclusion on?

but thank you for the sneering nastiness.

You're in here making assertions without evidence because there's an outcome you're already invested in. You'd mock it if you saw that sort of behavior from another person in a field you're not so het up about. 'Credulous' is mild.
posted by amorphatist at 8:42 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


[Folks, cool it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:49 PM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mikeand1: Jackie's friends were not independent eyewitnesses to the alleged assault.

If you are demanding eyewitnesses to verify sexual assault, you are even more biased against complainants than I imagined. AND ignoring the well known problems of eyewitness identification. By your standard, date rape is impossible to prove, except among exhibitionists.

In the absence of eyewitnesses -- which is the case for the vast majority of all crimes -- and where testimony needs verification, contemporaneous statements by the witnesses, and the actions and appearance of the alleged victim, are second only to laboratory evidence for corroboration. You should (and I suspect, do) know this.

what they say they saw is inconsistent with what she said

Correct. We are trying to determine what happened. You seem to be focused on discrediting the accuser, even if the best facts available point to a sexual assault with details different than in the Rolling Stone article. Victims of trauma may have unreliable memories, which does not mean they were not attacked. Again, you should know this.

You are deliberately leaving out the inconsistencies and describing their statements in the most general terms possible in an effort to gloss over the inconsistencies.

Which inconsistencies? I've cited the statements of "Cindy" and "Andy" to the Post (in separate articles) and looked over them carefully. I don't see a single inconsistency. There is also the roommate who states that Jackie became despondent that fall suddenly for no known reason, and told her the following January that she had been raped. This is vague, but it's a third, independent and entirely consistent account. The fact that these accounts by friends contradict Jackie's statement to Rolling Stone -- the only published information -- yet agree with each other would seem to strengthen their evidentiary value.

I'm not going to waste any more time on this thread...you're going to ignore anything that doesn't support your conclusions.

That's interesting. While claiming to be objective, you ignore the best available information, focus on discrediting the claimant, and refuse to discuss the case when your dismissal of the incident is challenged. Which is exactly what rape victims say happens to them when they report an assault.
posted by msalt at 9:46 PM on December 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


Sabrina Rubin Erdely has the perverse distinction of being dressed down by Stephen Glass (!) for making shit up at the Daily Pennsylvanian.

And much like Glass it appears her years of shoddy agenda- and careerist-driven reporting are finally going to catch up with her.
posted by dgaicun at 11:44 PM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Tonight's episode of The Newsroom was very topical. One of the major subplots involved many of the issues raised in this thread!
posted by Justinian at 12:01 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I saw that, Justinian, and thought the show handled it pretty well.

For how many crimes do we scrutinize victims to make sure they aren't lying or otherwise responsible for their own attack?

We have to find a way to tell these women's stories that highlights how devastating not only the rape, but the response, or lack of response, is for the victim. Especially when we're talking about rape on college campuses, where the administration is biased in favor of hushing up anything that might make the college look bad.

Slate has been horrible on this issue.

When I said I thought Slate gave a good account of the possible ramifications of not doing due diligence, I meant as it applies to reporting Incidents like this. Then, I think it is important to be absolutely definitive about who is saying what regarding the allegations being made, and fact checking everything possible.

Because I do believe Jackie went through something traumatic involving sexual assault that night, and the details are just muddled due to that trauma (I think she probably was not pushed through a glass table, for example, and then assaulted on the glass for 3 hours--but that's only because I have seen someone injured by glass from sitting on a broken glass top of a table, and know Jackie's injuries would definitely have been "significant" to those two friends and they'd have had to take her in for medical attention. I think she may very well have knocked down glass beer bottles, though, or something similar, and erroneously assimilated that into her memory of the attack, not that she is just making stuff up or anything ).

But now, rather than taking the reporter to task for including details that could have easily been checked, found to be questionable and left out without discounting the sexual assault, which is the important issue, Rolling Stone is just throwing Jackie under the bus, and that lends fuel to the 'girls cry rape" argument.
posted by misha at 12:47 AM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


[...] Rolling Stone is just throwing Jackie under the bus, and that lends fuel to the 'girls cry rape" argument.

What if the editors now suspect she's another Crystal Mangum? What option do they have other than to throw her under the bus? RS are *supposed* to be doing journalism, not advocacy, which is apparently where the reporter went wrong from the start here. There's a similar division here between a crew of advocates who want to believe Jackie's story is true, or at least she was definitely assaulted, or at the very least lots of rape happens on campus so it's at least figuratively true, and another crew who insist the facts are important in each individual case, even if the facts in any one case unfortunately "support" the arguments of misogynists and rape apologists.

Advocates vs jurors I suppose.
posted by amorphatist at 6:51 AM on December 8, 2014


But realistically, how does talking to a rapist confirm that a rape occurred? Do we really believe that a rapist would admit “Oh yes, I was there and I raped her” if a journalist approached them?
or
Victims’ memories are not perfect — and we cannot and should not expect them to be, as the very nature of trauma skews memories. Victims are torn apart on campus, in our communities, in internet comments, and in the public eye every day. If we want victims to come forward, we need to give them the cultural safety net of support to do so.
Maybe Jackie will come out and say she's made everything up. But until then, I am not losing anything by believing that she was raped.
posted by jeather at 6:59 AM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Is there a reason people are assuming the RS reporter presented Jackie's story exactly as it was told to her in the first place? I very well may be missing evidence to show that, but it seems that there are already two possible sources for misinformation in the original article, but all the blame seems to be falling on Jackie.
posted by jaguar at 7:17 AM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


What option do they have other than to throw her under the bus?

Rolling Stone could admit that it was their reporters and fact checkers who decided not to interview Jackie's friends, that it was their decision not to try to contact the alleged rapists (it sounds like this was at Jackie's urging, but it was still their decision), that they are the ones who failed to look into other details such as whether there had been a party on that specific night or whether there was someone working at the pool associated with that particular fraternity, and that Jackie herself asked them not to run her story and their reporter refused. Jackie didn't force Rolling Stone to run this story and Jackie didn't force them not to do basic reporting.

Jackie isn't someone who was out there pushing a phony story on the public. She was someone who had an account of her rape that she'd privately shared with friends and victim advocates. It was Rolling Stone that decided to take that story public, against her initial wishes, and it was Rolling Stone that decided not to actually do basic journalism. This is very much their fault, not hers.

I don't know why her story didn't check out, but I suspect it is related to some trauma she experienced (I tend to believe she was raped by someone.) Regardless, I'm not aware of that she has done anything to deserve getting "thrown under the bus." People's stories of traumatic events frequently contain details that aren't objectively true. A better journalist would have done enough reporting to realize that something was off about Jackie's version of what happened that night and would have removed her from the story.
posted by Area Man at 7:36 AM on December 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


Do we really believe that a rapist would admit “Oh yes, I was there and I raped her” if a journalist approached them?

No, but they might be able to say, "I wasn't there and you can check out my alibi."

But until then, I am not losing anything by believing that she was raped.

Good thing you are not a member of the UVA Greek system.

My lawyer's take on this story: Should we always believe the victim?
posted by cjorgensen at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]




My lawyer's take on this story: Should we always believe the victim?

Wow, so I guess this is a nice thing to point to for a handy one-stop collection all of the vile shit that people feared would be said due to this story.

But, is that really "rape culture?" What does that silly phrase mean? It means the same thing as Jim Crow stories of rape meant. It means the same thing that Tawana Brawley meant. It means that someone has an agenda, and they want to harness the emotional power of rape to promote it.
[...]
And it confirmed the bias of left-wing academics who have collectively decided that the "war on boys" must have more victims, because everything with a penis is a rapist.

posted by kagredon at 9:28 AM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wow, so I guess this is a nice thing to point to for a handy one-stop collection all of the vile shit that people feared would be said due to this story.

I suppose. Or you could read it.

Just look back through the first 40 comments in this thread.

People call her friends horrible. Her friends are disputing her account.

People call for the dismantling of the entire greek system over this event. While her facts aren't lining up with reality.

I don't think saying the default should be the accused are entitled to due process and innocent until proven guilty is a vile thing.

Even in that piece Marc advocates for believing the victim, but even more important than this is having the truth. In this case that's under some serious doubt.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:35 AM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think saying the default should be the accused are entitled to due process and innocent until proven guilty is a vile thing.

Oh come off it. Saying that people believed this story because "left-wing academics who have collectively decided that the "war on boys" must have more victims, because everything with a penis is a rapist." is vile. Or do you stand by that statement?
posted by kagredon at 9:39 AM on December 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


I mean, sometimes I think Richard Dawkins articulates something about the practice of science or the experience of living as an atheist well, that doesn't mean I post his Islamophobic screeds to Metafilter
posted by kagredon at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2014


“The Personal and the Political,” Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, Jacobin, 07 December 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 9:46 AM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Or do you stand by that statement?

I think that the sentiment isn't that far out there.

Take California's Yes Means Yes law. I don't see a lot of women being prosecuted under that law. I could be wrong. Let's revisit in five years.

And a lot of the institutions of higher learning are writing puritanical and out-of-touch sex and harassment policies that are laughable. There's a lot of good progress being made in this area, but there's also a lot of stupid out there.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:51 AM on December 8, 2014


People call her friends horrible. Her friends are disputing her account.

First of all, I don't think it's the same set of friends. And second, most of them seem to be disputing the article's version of her account.

People call for the dismantling of the entire greek system over this event.

Or, y'know, the decades of history behind frats and violence, including a history of incidents at UVA.

I don't think saying the default should be the accused are entitled to due process and innocent until proven guilty is a vile thing.

Which has fuck-all to do with this, because no one went to either the school or the police, let alone the courts. Using legal terms of art only serves to muddy the waters.

And a lot of the institutions of higher learning are writing puritanical and out-of-touch sex and harassment policies that are laughable. There's a lot of good progress being made in this area, but there's also a lot of stupid out there.

[citation needed]
posted by zombieflanders at 9:56 AM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Take California's Yes Means Yes law. I don't see a lot of women being prosecuted under that law. I could be wrong. Let's revisit in five years.

Leaving aside for a moment that Yes Means Yes dictates practices for colleges to investigate and adjudicate sexual assault and that it is therefore nonsensical to talk about "women being prosecuted under" it as if it were a criminal law, are you really saying the best possible explanation for such a disparity is that there's a left-wing war on men and not because men commit a majority of sexual assaults (against male and female victims), which is something that's been known for a long time.
posted by kagredon at 9:57 AM on December 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


the "war on boys"

Well, this story has certainly proven to be a Benghazi-like magnet for antifeminist culture warriors, and I expect now as a result that no matter what the facts turn out to be, we'll likely be hearing this kind of toxic bunkum about it for the next decade or two. Thanks, Rolling Stone!
posted by RogerB at 9:58 AM on December 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


Or, y'know, the decades of history behind frats and violence, including a history of incidents at UVA.

Then make that argument. Many of the commenters here weren't. They were calling for burning it to the ground.

Using legal terms of art only serves to muddy the waters.

It's not just legal terms. Schools also generally have due process. People also can decide which way they want to default when it comes to guilt and innocence.

If people (journalists, web commenters, University presidents) took the time to get their facts straight they wouldn't have to apologize and then walk that back, wouldn't have to suspend student activities and then walk that back, wouldn't have to release statements and then walk them back.

In my mind this does greater disservice to the victims. There was what should have been a fairly provable event and now it's something lacking total credibility.

The idea that it doesn't matter if she got the dates correct or the activities of the people correct doesn't matter is ludicrous.

[citation needed]
posted by cjorgensen at 10:03 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


And on a national level, the story that Rolling Stone revealed about Jackie, the UVA student who recounted being raped by seven men at a Phi Kapp Psi party, has reinvigorated calls to ban Greek life altogether.

“End Fraternities,” argues a piece published on Gawker on Monday. Author Jordan Sargent writes that “Phi Kappa Psi, like all fraternities, exists to teach bad values to developing young men.” A similar piece on Bustle, written by a UVA alumna, suggests that the university should make its current suspension permanent in order to confront the “terrifying frame of mind that has weeded its way into our schools and compromised the safety of everyone on campus.”

Indeed, frats across the country have become infamous for fostering a culture that allows sexual violence and misogyny to thrive. Just last month, the Texas Tech chapter of the international fraternity Phi Delta Theta was stripped of its charter after displaying a banner reading “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal” at one of its parties. There are countless other examples of colleges making national headlines for the bad behavior of their Greek members — everything from circulating emails about “how to lure your rapebait,” to printing T-shirts about “roasting” fat girls, to being accused of so many sexual assaults that their frat house gets nicknamed the “Rape Factory.”
Citations within the article to stories supporting the claims. You will also notice in the article that calls to dismantle the Greek system started before the Rolling Stone article was published, and that many sexual-assault advocacy groups don't find it a priority.

Anyone who thinks that trying to stop sexual assault on campus started with the Rolling Stone article has not been paying any attention. The issue has been heavily in the news for months and months. Policy leaders have been calling, very publically, for changes in those months and months. If this story proves not to be true in any way, that does not negate the millions of other stories out there. Claiming that Jackie's story is the only motivation for changing campus culture is ludicrous. Acting as if proving her wrong somehow proves that rapes don't happen on campus completely supports the status quo in which millions of women are raped every year.
posted by jaguar at 10:19 AM on December 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Take California's Yes Means Yes law. I don't see a lot of women being prosecuted under that law.

You're not seeing anyone "prosecuted" (which is the wrong term, as kagredon points out) under the law because it hasn't gone into effect yet. Come on.
posted by Lexica at 10:20 AM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


amorphatist: There's a similar division here between a crew of advocates who want to believe Jackie's story is true, or at least she was definitely assaulted, or at the very least lots of rape happens on campus so it's at least figuratively true, and another crew who insist the facts are important in each individual case, even if the facts in any one case unfortunately "support" the arguments of misogynists and rape apologists. Advocates vs jurors I suppose.

Could you possibly be more slanted and self-aggrandizing? (Spoiler: no.)

And yet you've presented no facts at all, demanding them even as you ignore the facts presented to you over and over. The best you have is your own question, "What if Jackie is another Crystal Magnum?" (comparing a freshman coed to stripper with a long criminal history, in a 10 year old case).

The best reporting on this case is from the Washington Post, cited here again and again. It includes 3 students reporting what they observed at the time of the incident, and matches the statement of the University (which, while vague, describes a sexual assault that occurred "with different details" than the RS story.) There is a consensus among all these accounts that some kind of sexual assault occurred involving multiple frat guys, and probably oral sex rather than the PIV rape on a glass table described in the Rolling Stone article. All report that the victim was immediately and visibly distraught at the time.

Your problem is that you are taking evident inaccuracies in the RS story as proof positive that nothing happened whatsoever. THAT is the advocacy position, with no evidence. The rest of us are sorting through messy and fragmented information to figure out what happened.
posted by msalt at 10:21 AM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


THAT is the advocacy position, with no evidence.

Yes -that and the insistent focus on the idea that if details of the victim's story are different, then the incident didn't happen seems to be one that is deliberate in its intent to ignore the unchanged and unchallenged facts about terrible institutional response and policy.
posted by rtha at 10:43 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


You're not seeing anyone "prosecuted" (which is the wrong term, as kagredon points out) under the law because it hasn't gone into effect yet. Come on.

I meant I don't see it, as in I don't see it happening. Future tense.

And yes, I get that I didn't use the legal term correctly.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:56 AM on December 8, 2014


And yes, I get that I didn't use the legal term correctly.

but the sentence makes no sense with the legal term you used, this is not a "murder vs homicide" thing, it's "murder vs tax statute".
posted by kagredon at 10:57 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Correct. I shouldn't have used that word.

I am predicting that when it comes to future California sex assault investigations that when this law is put into effect it will more adversely affect men than women. Again, we can revisit in five years. Maybe this is the way forward.

The way I read it is the default is both parties have to give verbal consent in a sober state of mind for the sex to be counted as consensual. So two drunk college kids having sex which is the rapist? In the event two students have sex without actually talking about it are both rapists?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:12 AM on December 8, 2014


cjorgensen brings up a point frequently raised by -- what's a fair term, "rape crisis skeptics"? -- about both affirmative consent and drunken incapacity for consent. And I think it deserves to be tackled directly.

The question presented is, what if a boy and a girl are BOTH too drunk to consent? Or a girl has sex with a boy without getting his affirmative consent to each step of the process? Did she commit rape, too? Of course this ignores all context -- relative physical size, the reality of rape in the world, etc. But it's valid question if you put these principles into law, as I think we should.

The answer is that the sex still has to be unwanted for there to be a crime. There may be cases where women coerce or force men into sex, especially as women gain power in society, and they should be open to prosecution. Of course the guy who files charges will discover all of the barriers to prosecution of rape charges, plus the extra humiliation of being mocked for being a wuss and a punk etc. Welcome to the club.

The oft-joked about case where "they're both drunk, so are they both rapists?" only makes sense if they both didn't want sex. And there's a major problem with that scenario. I can't quite find the words, but the point is that rapists are hiding behind the ambiguity of drunkenness and intimidation to argue that if a victim didn't resist in the correct way, then it's not rape. This protection should be removed. You should not being pushing sex on people when you aren't sure it's OK with them. Period.
posted by msalt at 11:27 AM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


future California sex assault investigations

This law is specifically about California colleges and universities that take state money, and about their on-campus policies. It is not about any broader statewide criminal law investigations.
posted by rtha at 11:31 AM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


"A letter from a friend: Jackie's story is not a hoax" (by her suitemate that year, in the UVa Cavalier Daily)
posted by msalt at 11:32 AM on December 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


and about their on-campus policies

Hmm, that's muddy of me. Rather, it is about how the institution will handle complaints between students (and staff and faculty). The text of the law is here.
posted by rtha at 11:33 AM on December 8, 2014


Rather, it is about how the institution will handle complaints between students (and staff and faculty).

and

The oft-joked about case where "they're both drunk, so are they both rapists?" only makes sense if they both didn't want sex.

Yes. Campuses aren't going to be interviewing all students and automatically investigating anyone who admits to having had sex while drunk.
posted by jaguar at 11:41 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


And I think it deserves to be tackled directly.

Thanks.

Yeah, I too often get hung up on hypotheticals and forget the realities.

The oft-joked about case […]

Just to be clear, I wasn't making a joke or making light.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:50 AM on December 8, 2014


Interesting long-form piece from Emily Yoffe: The College Rape Overcorrection.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:25 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


That'd be the Emily Yoffe of College Women: Stop Getting Drunk fame.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:43 PM on December 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


And please spare me the "Ad Hominem! Engage the argument!" BS. Someone else can waste their time reading #slatepitch horseshit.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:44 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, to be fair, she probably didn't write the headline, and the content of the linked piece gives the same advice to both genders, and where it's female specific you could write that off to her being a woman with a daughter (her purported audience for the piece).

So I am a bit lost. You post a link to refute a previous link by the same author, to undermine her credibility, but you don't want to address the argument in her article?

It's undeniable that alcohol plays a large role in sex assaults. To me that's a fairly good reason to not drink in situations where you don't feel 100% safe, regardless of gender, but maybe I am missing something.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:54 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


To me that's a fairly good reason to not drink in situations where you don't feel 100% safe, regardless of gender

that pretty much means "never" or maybe "at home, where you live by yourself" for women
posted by kagredon at 2:00 PM on December 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


and the content of the linked piece gives the same advice to both genders

I'm kind of tired of the Blame the Copy Editor defense of trollish pieces. The headline is what it is, if the author didn't like it she could ask for it to be changed. On the substance of the piece, such as there is any, it's all from a point of view that puts the onus on victims to defend themselves instead of the assailants to not commit rape. Quotes like "I’m not saying a woman is responsible for being sexually victimized, but.. [advice on how women, not men, should be more responsible]" give up the game. Token "I'm not victim blaming here" inclusions aside, it's a terrible piece from a terrible victim-blamey perspective.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


You post a link to refute a previous link by the same author, to undermine her credibility

Yeah, it worked pretty well! I very much appreciated the reminder about Yoffe's previous antifeminist backlash trolling, and being reminded of it very economically convinced me that there's really no point wasting time on her shitty disingenuous arguments again. This story is clearly flypaper for right-wing "contrarian" hot takes at the moment, and that being so, there's every reason to recall the hotness of a writer's previous takes, especially on the same topic, in order to avoid being fooled into spending our time taking them seriously.
posted by RogerB at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


but maybe I am missing something.

I think you are, because I think you're imagining a different reality from the one a lot of us occupy most of the time.

A couple of friends of mine host an eggnog-and-carol party every year, and though I wasn't able to go this year, the way it works is there is singing of Christmas carols and eating of stew and drinking of homemade eggnog that is phenomenal and delicious and sneaky. Let's say you go to this party, and you don't worry about the drinking part, really, because even if you don't know everyone at the party, you all at least know the hosts. So you drink the delicious eggnog and get a little tipsier than you mean to and so you call a cab when it's time to go home and the cabbie assaults you. Or, you are mugged after the cabbie drops you off, as you're unlocking your door.

At what point should "100% safe" and "drinking alcohol" have come together? You were as near to 100% safe as could be at the party, but you can't guarantee for anything once you leave. So your advice basically means yeah, never drink to tipsyness or beyond when you are anywhere but home, and probably alone, given how many sexual assaults take place in a domestic violence context. This is a no-win.
posted by rtha at 2:15 PM on December 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Putting aside the issue of alcohol, Yoffe's piece is really more of an opinion/advocacy piece more than an investigation. She cites three anecdotes where, in her telling, 2 accused young men seem to have gotten fairly raw deals in campus tribunals, and the third was exonerated but "it might easily have gone the other way." She then throws random, glancing blows at the best known rape statistics (1 in 5, 1 in 4) and at the Obama administration's efforts to fight campus rape.

Here's the thing: even if you accept everything she says, the upshot was 1 of the accused rapists being ordered to stay away from the woman who said he forced himself on her (he withdrew from college voluntarily) and the other was expelled. Both have sued and expect to get money in return.

Sexual incidents are often murky and confused. We saw at UVa that 80% of complaints brought by women are dismissed without even getting to the tribunal stage. There are many, many women who report rapes and are dismissed by the college, unfairly, after presenting evidence. In my view, the pain they suffer is 100 times worse than a guy forced to stay away from a women -- even if unfairly -- after a sketchy sex incident. Which should be common courtesy anyway.

The "overcorrection" Yoffe is describing is simply moving the decisions in these murky cases closer to 50-50, instead of having an overwhelming bias in favor of the accused rapist and against the rape victim. Yoffe's advocacy here is especially poignant since she says that she herself was the victim of three sexual assaults before age 20, none resulting in any punishment.
posted by msalt at 2:20 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's undeniable that alcohol plays a large role in sex assaults. To me that's a fairly good reason to not drink in situations where you don't feel 100% safe, regardless of gender, but maybe I am missing something.

About 70% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Husband, boyfriend, neighbor, roommate, dormmate, etc. "100% safe" would basically mean, "There are no men present, in the neighborhood, or walking by my place of residence."

The other bit missing is that many rapists specifically use alcohol as a date-rape drug, getting their intended victim drunk on purpose so that they are easier to assault. Talking about victims "choosing" to drink in such situations (or "choosing" to drink to excess) is ignoring the way rapists work.
posted by jaguar at 2:44 PM on December 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


About 70% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Husband, boyfriend, neighbor, roommate, dormmate, etc. "100% safe" would basically mean, "There are no men present, in the neighborhood, or walking by my place of residence."

Bingo. In effect, this attitude tells women that so long as a man is present, we are guests in someone else's world, in which we must be on constant watch. Bullshit.
posted by sallybrown at 3:10 PM on December 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


To my mind, the valuable part of the Yoffe piece was section 4: The Numbers. It breaks down a number of the inaccurate statistics that swirl around the subject and, just as usefully, explains how they were arrived at.
The study itself, however, found a completed rape rate among its respondents of 1.7 percent. How does a study that finds less than 2 percent of college women in a given year are raped become a 25 percent likelihood? In addition to the 1.7 percent of victims of completed rape, the survey found that another 1.1 percent experienced attempted rape. As the authors wrote, “[O]ne might conclude that the risk of rape victimization for college women is not high; ‘only’ about 1 in 36 college women (2.8 percent) experience a completed rape or attempted rape in an academic year.”

But the authors go on to make several assumptions that ratchet up the risk. The study was carried out during the spring and asked women to describe any assaults experienced during that academic year. The researchers decided to double the numbers they received from their subjects, in order to extrapolate their findings over an entire calendar year, even as they acknowledged that this was “problematic,” as students rarely attend school for 12 months. That calculation brought the incidence figure to nearly 5 percent. Although college is designed to be a four-year experience, the authors note that it takes students “an average” of five years, so they then multiplied their newly-arrived-at 5 percent of student victims by five years, and thus they conclude: “The percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions might climb to between one-fifth and one-quarter.”
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:16 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why isn't rape a capital crime? Is there anyone who doesn't think rapists should be executed on the evening news as a public service and to prove the point, "Don't Rape People. Seriously. Don't"
posted by mikelieman at 3:22 PM on December 8, 2014


With that in mind, I still think that we should all just be up front and say that we'd never indict someone for killing an alleged rapist since we should be giving her a check for performing a public service.
posted by mikelieman at 3:25 PM on December 8, 2014


Is there anyone who doesn't think rapists should be executed on the evening news as a public service and to prove the point, "Don't Rape People. Seriously. Don't"

Yes, I don't think that should happen.
posted by jaguar at 3:27 PM on December 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


I also don't think that should happen. I'm opposed to the death penalty entirely, though, so no-rapist-on-death-row is not an exception for me.
posted by rtha at 3:38 PM on December 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well, fundamentally I think that rapists have broken genes and therefore can't respect other people's property rights to their own selves. They need to be culled from the population. I don't think that execution is cruel and unusual if done properly. I can understand peoples' reservations though, and I suppose castration would be effective in that context, and does serve as a deterrent.
posted by mikelieman at 3:47 PM on December 8, 2014


I don't support castration of rapists, either. Pretty much all cruel and unusual punishment is out, in my book. Is there a reason you want to keep tossing out not-going-to-happen outlandish punishments? Because I find that such discussions tend to be a way for people to feel better about themselves ("I'd kill 'em!") without having to think too hard about the reality of how the various systems in place prevent most rapists from ever being legally punished.
posted by jaguar at 3:50 PM on December 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Alcohol is tricky. It has been -- and will continue to be -- used to undermine the credibility of victims' and witnesses' testimony, which causes some anti-rape activists to reach negatively every time the subject is raised. At the same time, I think it's clearly used as a date rape drug by a lot of perpetrators, and especially on campuses binge-drinking culture is cultivated specifically (and blatantly) to make it easier for guys to get sex. EG -- the spiked punch at frats, which is offered to women at the parties while the guys drink beers. Pretty blatant -- no one drinks alcoholic punch anywhere else on earth.

How about this: we teach students that anyone plying you with alcohol, pushing drinks on you or serving drinks they don't drink is sketchy as hell and should be avoided? And that engaging in this behavior is considered strong circumstantial evidence of rapiness, should an incident arise.
posted by msalt at 3:53 PM on December 8, 2014


They need to be culled from the population.

This is an incredibly disturbing and scary attitude.
posted by Justinian at 4:09 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Anyone who thinks that trying to stop sexual assault on campus started with the Rolling Stone article has not been paying any attention. The issue has been heavily in the news for months and months. Policy leaders have been calling, very publically, for changes in those months and months. If this story proves not to be true in any way, that does not negate the millions of other stories out there. Claiming that Jackie's story is the only motivation for changing campus culture is ludicrous. Acting as if proving her wrong somehow proves that rapes don't happen on campus completely supports the status quo in which millions of women are raped every year.

Just a minor point here, but in your comment you start out talking about campus rapes from the very first sentence, and you point to campus culture, and talk about rapes happening on campus, but then you end with, "the status quo in which millions of women are raped every year". That makes it seem like you are claiming that "millions of women" are raped on college campuses every year. Which is, yikes, obviously not the case.

Pretty sure you didn't mean to make that association, and the "millions" of women you refer to were the number of women raped worldwide in a year, or something else like that instead? Otherwise you are orders of magnitude off with that 'millions' in there, and I don't think you want to come across as inflating the actual numbers, so you might just want to explain where you were actually coming from with that.

[For anyone curious about actual statistics, according to RAINN, the number of women raped per year in America is plenty depressing enough at a rate of slightly more than 238,000. It was twice that back in 2008, though, so the message is getting out there, at least.]
posted by misha at 4:56 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


It was twice that back in 2008

In 1993. It's a 20-year trend, not a 5-year trend....
posted by mr_roboto at 5:02 PM on December 8, 2014


Hey, msalt, I read that as since 2008 because the statement (that sexual assault has declined by 50% in recent years) is footnoted with this: U.S. Department of Justice. National Crime Victimization Survey. 2008-2012.

But the beginning of the paragraph says that if we'd stayed at 1993 levels, we'd have double what we do, etc., and mentions the 20 year cycle, like you said, so I think your reading of it is the correct one, and Instead of "it was twice that back in 2008", I should have said "it was twice that back in 1993".

Sorry about that, my mistake.
posted by misha at 5:47 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Statistics are actually all over the place, because sexual assault is very underreported. But this graphic was in my head, so that's where I was getting my numbers:

Each year, 1.9 million women in America are raped. That works out to, on average, a rape happening in this country ever 17 seconds. Sexual assault, and other forms of violence against women, are a massive problem in this country.
posted by jaguar at 6:13 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pretty much all cruel and unusual punishment is out

Cops are summarily executing suspected criminals, and whoever else the want to, with impunity these days, so while "Due Process" and "Equal Protection" and the 8th Amendment are all good ideas, I think that ignoring the reality doesn't really move us ahead to resolving the issue of rapists raping people. We work with what we have. We have a whole lot of defective people who think that raping people is OK.
posted by mikelieman at 6:19 PM on December 8, 2014


And you're putting forward the proposition that we need to cull the defectives from the population. Do I even need to say it?
posted by Justinian at 6:20 PM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is an incredibly disturbing and scary attitude.

Keep in mind the context is how to solve the problem of people having the disturbing and scary attitude that they can rape other people. Maybe there is a bit of reductio-ad-absurdum involved, but I'm tired of NOTHING GETTING DONE. So, let's change the framing. The PROBLEM is people who have this terrifying and scary idea that they can rape others.
posted by mikelieman at 6:21 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


[I don't feel like there's a whole lot more good to come from a side argument about the pros and cons of declaring rape a capital crime. Maybe folks can let that just lay at this point.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


[I just want to take a moment to note how deft Cortex' social touch is, and how in a just world he would have single handedly obliterated the stereotype of the maladroit computer nerd. Also, misha, I know I talk a lot but I think that was Mr. Roboto not me you're responding to.]
posted by msalt at 7:44 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


mikelieman's bloodlust raises an interesting point. Many a clever defense attorney has used the technique of inflating the evil nature of rapists as unimaginable monsters, so that the very middle class looking white defendant in a nice suit couldn't possible fit that category. It works, because we don't want to imagine unperceived monsters among us.

The implication is that lessening that cognitive dissonance, perhaps by defining intermediate crimes less villified than rape -- sex by coercion, perhaps -- might answer some of the fears about unjust guilty verdicts while making punishment by a court much more likely. I'm not sure I'm on board with that, but it's very interesting to think about.
posted by msalt at 10:53 PM on December 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


Does the potential of an 'unjustly guilty verdict' of a rapist outweigh the systemic abuse their victims?

I would say, "No."

Of course, that presumes that it would ever be end up in a courtroom after being investigated in good-faith by the campus and local police and that the DA doesn't give the accused rapist a pass.

And we're here talking ABOUT not the victim, but the schools' rationale for NOT investigating the incident is "It *MIGHT* be fake". We need to change the entire framing. And not to increase doubt about the victims.

Again, I think this is a training thing. We can't train girls to rely on a whistle.
posted by mikelieman at 4:32 AM on December 9, 2014


We need to change the entire framing.

Agreed. Making it a capital crime won't do that, though.
posted by rtha at 5:42 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]




> The media, by and large, will be content — and some, of course, will be downright gleeful — to
> conclude that it was an encroachment of feminist ethics — a knee-jerk “Believe the Victims” mentality
> — that poisoned the hallowed integrity of journalism in this disastrous case.

The page Maya Dusenbery links to as support for this sentence (which I had already read and bookmarked) doesn't say anything remotely like this, except to folk able to hear that message in everything including weekly-special-on-canteloupe ads.

(N.b. feministing's link, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/rolling-stone-uva-reporting-rap, is broken, lacking that final e. The New Yorker column (Reporting on Rape, By Margaret Talbot) is here.)
posted by jfuller at 7:59 AM on December 9, 2014


“The Personal and the Political,” Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, Jacobin, 07 December 2014

This is a great article, thanks for the link.

Leftist analysis is at its best when it focuses on systematic critiques. Erdely’s piece was arguably engaged in just such a project, though the undoing of its anecdotal obsession has undermined that thrust. The strength of leftist critique is that it concerns itself with the broad, the historical, the powerful, the structural. Contrast this with right-wing accounts of politics, which focus on individual choice and disposition, private and personal interests, and folk-legendary tales of bootstrapping.

There’s a reason Ronald Reagan preferred ticky-tacky bullshit tales of welfare fraud (such as the woeful story of Linda Taylor that gave us the pejorative “welfare queen”) to structural analysis. These days right-wing blowhards like Paul Ryan keep the ignominious tradition alive. The Wisconsin congressman has opined, for example, that free school lunches are bad because he heard of a little boy who wanted a brown paper sack to signify parental love.

The story was nonsense. But when your alternative is to refer to numerical data of how many young mouths you’d like to steal food out of, the heart-warming individual tale is your best option. The vigor of the left position arises from the fact that we do not have to traffic in one-offs and pan flashes.

posted by Drinky Die at 8:42 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Here's Some Stupid For Lunch
posted by homunculus at 11:14 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh holy Jesus, the shithead Charles C. Johnson who doxxed Jackie was a student at CMC while I was at Pomona. I think we may have even graduated in the same year. He ran a blog called the Claremont Conservative that purported to "expose the truth" about the 5Cs (Google if you're interested) and which pretty much everyone hated, because he was hateful and spiteful while maintaining a holier-than-thou attitude. He wrote really inflammatory bullshit about professors, students, and administrators and was generally the kind of person you'd see spouting nonsense on Fox News -- mean-spirited and self-aggrandizing.

Apparently, he now styles himself an investigative journalist and truth-teller. I hadn't kept track of his career, but ugh -- what a blemish on the Claremont Colleges.
posted by Ragini at 8:35 PM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Gawker has a...profile of Johnson: The Web’s Worst Journalist, Explained
posted by kagredon at 8:53 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Right now my entire twitter feed is going absolutely bananas with schadenfreude over the story that he pooped on a dorm-room floor in college. It's in the comments in kagredon's link and Deadspin has a post of their own on the rumor. Apparently the guy was so loathed at Claremont that someone made a parody account for him. As for the man himself, he's not taking the internet's newfound interest in his past very well.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:53 PM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


"ha ha, he shat himself!" aside, people have been taking the opportunity to dig up bad stuff he's written in the past.
if you're interested in why chuck johnson is interested in discrediting victims of sexual assault, start here
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:15 PM on December 9, 2014


There is one point in his essay I agree with -- it's BS for people to be on sex offenders lists for public urination. The rest is all idiocy.
posted by msalt at 11:18 PM on December 9, 2014


Why in the world has Sabrina Erdely, the author of the damn piece, not spoken up yet?
posted by themanwho at 6:24 AM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


She's probably grieving her journalism career, which is (and should be) dead.

Some good industry gossip about Erdely and her editor here. She did speak and it was a disaster.
posted by msalt at 6:32 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Very possibly she expects to be sued by one of the other parties involved. Or all of them.
posted by jfuller at 6:36 AM on December 10, 2014


She's probably grieving her journalism career, which is (and should be) dead.

I don't see how this made it past an editor. She shouldn't be the only one to lose her head.

Also: Chuck C. Johnson: Journalist (In Three Images)
posted by cjorgensen at 7:39 AM on December 10, 2014


Very possibly she expects to be sued by one of the other parties involved. Or all of them.

On what possible grounds?
posted by amorphatist at 2:53 PM on December 10, 2014


This article by Eugene Volokh gets into the weeds of possible libel actions pretty effectively.

TL/DR: the fraternity has the best shot as a lawsuit. But he offers an excellent lawerly caution for any individuals: if you're really concerned about your reputation (as opposed to getting money or 'punishing' someone), a lawsuit is foolish. No individuals are accused by name right now, but anyone who sues would instantly become the face of this rape accusation, "the guy in that rape case."
posted by msalt at 2:58 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


More from WaPo, U-Va. students challenge Rolling Stone account of attack.

There are some confusing details in there, but it seems to allege Jackie was faking a relationship with an upperclassman to make one of the friends, identified as Randall, jealous. She previously claimed to them she had been on a date with this upperclassman the night of the attack.

Jackie told her three friends that she accepted the upperclassman’s invitation for a dinner date on Friday Sept. 28, 2012.

Curious about Jackie’s date, the friends said that they failed to locate the student on a U-Va. database and social media. Andy, Cindy and Randall all said they never met the student in person. Before Jackie’s date, the friends said that they became suspicious that perhaps they hadn’t really been in contact with the chemistry student at all.

U-Va. officials told The Post that no student by the name Jackie provided to her friends as her date and attacker in 2012 had ever enrolled at the university. Randall provided The Post with pictures that Jackie’s purported date had sent of himself by text message in 2012.

The Post identified the person in the pictures and learned that his name does not match the one Jackie provided to friends in 2012. In an interview, the man said that he was Jackie’s high school classmate but that he “never really spoke to her.”

The man said that he was never a U-Va. student and is not a member of any fraternity. Additionally, the man said that he had not visited Charlottesville in at least six years and that he was in another state participating in an athletic event during the weekend of Sept. 28, 2012.

“I have nothing to do with it,” he said. He said it appears the photos that were circulated were pulled from social media Web sites.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:19 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you read Drinky Die's WaPo link it's apparent that the inconsistencies in Jackie's story are starting to go beyond the kind of inconsistencies you'd expect here, most importantly because some of them pre-date the alleged attack. The texted pictures, for example, are from before the attack is supposed to have occurred. That doesn't mean something bad didn't happen to her, but it does mean that RS was even more negligent in publishing this story than we had previously realized.
posted by Justinian at 3:44 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it does state that the friends do still believe something traumatic happened to her that night.

“She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall said. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before and I really hope I never have to again. ... If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”
posted by Drinky Die at 3:47 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they are her friends after all. It's hard to explain the stuff which is clearly untrue from before the alleged attack though.
posted by Justinian at 3:48 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, it establishes that she is willing to lie, but that applies to every human being. We all lie. That's why you have to fact check everything even if the source seems trustworthy. They could have discovered good reason to back off this story if they looked into it. I'm with you on that.

I only point out the friends believe something happened to her still because for some people the impulse to assume she made up the attack entirely will follow from learning she had previously lied about her relationships. Can't really blame people too much there when there is so much falsehood floating around the story, so I just wanted to highlight that the idea that she was attacked should not be discounted entirely. (And to be clear, not saying you were doing that.)
posted by Drinky Die at 3:57 PM on December 10, 2014


Yeah, I think the big takeaway is that this story should never have seen the light of day as written. There's a big story to be done on campus' response to assault but this was not that story.
posted by Justinian at 4:03 PM on December 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh, so is this straight up fabrication?

The Rolling Stone article also said that Randall declined to be interviewed, “citing his loyalty to his own frat.” He told The Post that he never was contacted by Rolling Stone and would have agreed to an interview. The article’s writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not respond to requests for comment this week.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:49 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


This ended up crashing and burning way worse than I even thought it would. It's horrible to think a lot of the worst claims from the usual suspects who wanted this story to be untrue ended up being correct.
posted by cell divide at 5:14 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hard to say, DD, but the author declining to comment certainly doesn't look good. If it weren't a fabrication you'd think it'd be easy to say that he was contacted and did make the comments cited.
posted by Justinian at 5:27 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This story struck me as passive aggressive. The writer (T. Rees Shapiro) seems to want to say something but won't come right out with it. He clearly seems to be turning on Jackie. He is apparently under 25, since he covered the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings for his school paper.

Another possibility struck me -- that someone Jackie thought was a potential love interest hoaxed her and humiliated her when she showed up for a "date." It may have been one person, or a group, or a frat, and who knows what happened from there.

There are so many obvious questions raised but not addressed. For example, the writer says that the friends provided texts and emails from the guy Jackie was scheduled to date. Are those accounts still active? Associated with any individuals? consistently male and collegiate? Any sign of being faked? He makes a big point of saying the first name is not that of any UVa student, but clearly the second one (who he interviewed) was. That guy wasn't in Phi Kappa Psi, but I think an earlier story said he was in a different frat. Was there a social event at that frat on 9/28/2012? Etc. Etc.
posted by msalt at 5:44 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Too bad there isn't a profession whose entire reason for existence is to report on and investigate those sorts of questions before writing a story.
posted by Justinian at 5:47 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


So that I'm not simply slagging on all journalists I will say that the difference between the reporting in the Washington Post and the reporting in Rolling Stone is immense. It's night and day. I get the impression (not backed up by much of anything) that real reporters are personally offended by how shoddy the RS effort was here.
posted by Justinian at 5:51 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Another possibility struck me -- that someone Jackie thought was a potential love interest hoaxed her and humiliated her when she showed up for a "date." It may have been one person, or a group, or a frat, and who knows what happened from there.

There are a lot of plausible scenarios for that sort of thing running through my head but I can't square them with the WaPo article. The person in the photos given to the friends was her highschool classmate. Maybe he could screw with her over social media and fake a relationship, but he couldn't organize a gang rape. Maybe it was someone at the frat, but why would they have picked her ex-classmate for the picture and why did they pick her? The details have become too confusing for me to say what you suggest absolutely can't be the case, but I don't know what else to say right now.

The only thing I trust is what she said in the immediate aftermath and her friends believe and she has remained consistent about, something very traumatic happened to her that night. I'm really not sure how anyone can be convinced about anything else regarding this case.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:21 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's an interview on PBS Newshour with T. Rees Shapiro from December 5th, where's he's a little more direct about his personal feelings about the story:

She [Jackie] sticks by her story. She believes that the account of what she gave is the truth. And I gave her multiple opportunities in interviews to tell me the real events as they had actually occurred that night. It’s impossible to tell, from what we know now, what really did happen. It appears pretty clear that she faced some sort of trauma. I can’t say for sure. But other details as they emerge are calling into question other parts of her story.
posted by msalt at 6:25 PM on December 10, 2014


I can't reconcile the pictures she was showing of her high school classmate with the rest of the narrative. The things is, if RS hadn't pushed this when they shouldn't have pushed it none of us would be in a position to reconcile it. So I won't try and I'll just blame RS for the whole fiasco.
posted by Justinian at 6:50 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


I get the impression (not backed up by much of anything) that real reporters are personally offended by how shoddy the RS effort was here.


WaPo referred to RS as "the popular culture magazine"
**Scorch**
posted by Bwithh at 6:57 PM on December 10, 2014


Or it did? or did it? maybe I read that somewhere else or they updated it out. can't seem to find it now
posted by Bwithh at 6:58 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter would like to retract Bwithh's comments. We will re-evaluate our fact checking procedures going forward.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:06 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


The Washington Post followup excoriating Bwithh's shoddy journalism should be a classic.
posted by Justinian at 7:16 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Apparently, Ms Ederle has been here before.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:25 PM on December 10, 2014


The WaPo story is highly suggestive that Jackie is a batshit fabulist who invented a paramour--with fake name(s), pictures, and texts--to make her friend "Randall" jealous; and then invented a ludicrous gang rape by this non-existent paramour and his equally non-existent frat friends to steal Randall's attention and sympathy.

I don't get the "some sort of assault probably happened" benefit of the doubt here outside of narrow ideological conviction. This person has no credibility. She invented a man. Then later said this same made-up man raped her. There are no reasons to believe her. She did nothing but lie and nothing checks out.
posted by dgaicun at 7:45 PM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


“She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall said. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before and I really hope I never have to again. ... If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”
posted by Drinky Die at 7:52 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Given that none of the things she said were true, that doesn't shift my appraisal. A lot of people can put on a convincing act if they need to. But she also had a legitimate reason to be genuinely emotionally hysterical that night: she had told an embarrassingly intricate series of lies to all of her friends about this hot guy who was taking her out. But wait... won't her friends expect to meet this George Glass hunk after her awesome storybook first date? There was no endgame to her lie; she had painted herself into a humiliating corner. She was probably crying the whole night of her fake date, while she hid away behind some bushes somewhere, and then spun her painfully visible emotional state into yet another lie to save face with her friends, in addition to getting tons of yummy sympathy and attention from her crush.
posted by dgaicun at 8:29 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Another possibility struck me -- that someone Jackie thought was a potential love interest hoaxed her and humiliated her when she showed up for a "date." It may have been one person, or a group, or a frat, and who knows what happened from there."

You can't be serious... At what point will you give up? Anyone with a live enough imagination can always come up with some kind of extremely-unlikely-yet-non-falsifiable scenario for how all this happened. At that point, you're bordering on delusion.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:30 PM on December 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


If she wanted to dump a fake boyfriend all she had to do was fake dump him, there is no necessity for a rape story.

Oh, so is this straight up fabrication?

The Rolling Stone article also said that Randall declined to be interviewed, “citing his loyalty to his own frat.” He told The Post that he never was contacted by Rolling Stone and would have agreed to an interview. The article’s writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not respond to requests for comment this week.


On reflection, a possibility besides fabrication is that Jackie herself controlled whatever e-mail address she gave for Randall and answered Rolling Stone herself. Considering the previous methods she allegedly used to deceive her friends, that would be plausible. Falling for such a ruse would be another journalistic mortal sin here.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:13 AM on December 11, 2014


Apparently, Ms Ederle has been here before.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:25 PM on December 10 [+] [!]



Criticisms are also being aired about alleged problems in Ederly's earlier story about a rape in the military
posted by Bwithh at 12:48 AM on December 11, 2014


I think skeptics about this story are making the exact same mistake they're criticizing others for -- taking what you read in a published story as gospel.

The Rolling Stone narrative is clearly flawed. We've been taking the WashPo counter-narrative as gospel truth, but it's being written by a reporter in his early 20s who does not have 1/5th the credentials of the now-discredited Erdely. There's no reason to assume his is gospel truth either, especially given that he has contradicted himself several times, shifted the tone of his narrative in just 5 days, and and failed to answer some very basic questions raised by his own stories.

None of us know a single thing that Jackie has said. We only know what Rolling Stone and the Washington Post say she said, and at least one of them has admitted being wrong. It makes no sense to jump blindly into the arms of the only alternate source.
posted by msalt at 1:00 AM on December 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm putting my faith more in the WaPo editors and checkers here than I am an individual reporter. It still helps to be skeptical, but I have to expect they are being careful in light of the "ripping apart the reporting of another respected news source" context they are working in.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:40 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or maybe we can just have some distance and leave the poor young woman alone -- and deal with the undeniable fact (as revealed by the stories of many others) that campuses deal poorly with sexual assault.
posted by jb at 4:13 AM on December 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


The Rolling Stone could have done that. It went in a different direction, and here we are.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:24 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's still no reason to go after the one woman. In a discussion of poor fact-checking, it makes no sense to be declaring judgements on situations (her state of mind, exactly what happened to her - which by the WAPO version was still a viscious assault) we don't have privy to.
posted by jb at 4:41 AM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


She accused people, an entire frat basically, in public. It's going to play out in public because of that choice. There isn't really a way around it. If she had been more honest with Rolling Stone about what she could actually state as fact and/or they had done their diligence to check her, none of this would be happening.

I agree we should not be making judgements on what exactly happened, because we simply do not know, but the questions surfacing now are a result of a well respected magazine reporting to the public that they did know when they clearly did not.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:09 AM on December 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


> It makes no sense to jump blindly into the arms of the only alternate source.

Those three friends that played such a prominent part in the explosive RS version: either they have actually been located and interviewed or it's now the Washington Post that's just making shit up. If it's the latter, that will certainly come out. And soon, I expect, because of the large number of eyeballs now watching the Post's every move.

If the WaPo is not making shit up, those friends are three alternate sources for many details about the critical night and (per the post's story of 12/10 linked above) about events that happened days before the alleged gang rape. They will be interviewed again (and again and again, most likely) by others not with the Post. There are others, such as the various men who were supposed to have been "Jackie's" date.

The story keeps having legs because more sources keep turning up--or so it is claimed by a news outfit a good bit more reputable than Rolling Stone, which is maybe one step up from High Times--but which, as I say, may itself be making shit up. We shall see.
posted by jfuller at 8:26 AM on December 11, 2014


but it's being written by a reporter in his early 20s who does not have 1/5th the credentials of the now-discredited Erdely

This seems like an unproductive angle. Lots of old people with credentials lie. Lots of young people don't.
posted by smackfu at 9:05 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]




[If you want to discuss how Metafilter handles certain subjects, MetaTalk is your option. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:36 AM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


[…] or so it is claimed by a news outfit a good bit more reputable than Rolling Stone […]

This is not a sentence you could have written a month ago. RS is actually a well respected source of journalism and one of the few out there taking on long form journalism. It's too bad they fucked this one up.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:14 AM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Lots of old people with credentials lie. Lots of young people don't.

My point is, blind trust was the problem before, and this writer has not earned blind trust. The Post is under new management, and lying is not the only possible problem.

The extent to which he implied that Jackie was inventing fictional boyfriend's like the crazy girl in the song "Angie Baby" was unprofessional in my opinion. Either say it out loud, or stick rigorously to the facts. Ask one of her friends if they think that's what she did, and report their response. But don't insinuate.
posted by msalt at 11:41 AM on December 11, 2014


> RS is actually a well respected source of journalism and one of the few out there taking on long
> form journalism. It's too bad they fucked this one up.

Another thing we shall see about. This was not Erdely's first narrative of a shocking rape for RS. Two earlier ones are linked above in the thread, and both of these will inevitably get heavy scrutiny now.
posted by jfuller at 12:06 PM on December 11, 2014


Magazines and newspapers are getting too much like bad sports teams -- dependent on big, spectacular stories by star reporters who become media figures. The drive to find the perfect narrative subject is one result, and the pressure to cut corners to build your career is another.

We need more media equivalents of the San Antonio Spurs, a bunch of (relatively) unknown team players moving the story forward in small chunks.
posted by msalt at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Chris Hayes is interviewing the WaPo guy doing these stories right now.
posted by Justinian at 5:53 PM on December 11, 2014


There really wasn't anything new in the interview as it turns out. I would say that it's pretty clear that, while he is being very careful (understandably under the circumstances) not to get ahead of the facts they have established that the WaPo reporter is very skeptical of Jackie's entire account. He also says they plan to continue to follow up on the story in order to establish the truth of what happened.
posted by Justinian at 6:01 PM on December 11, 2014


Who is Chris Hayes?
posted by msalt at 11:52 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


He's the host of "All In with Chris Hayes" which runs on MSNBC after Chris Matthews and before Rachel Maddow.
posted by Justinian at 12:25 AM on December 12, 2014




Wow, that's a dramatic turn -- the three friends going public. Just started reading but already found a worrisome sign -- "Andy" is identified as "Alex Stock" in the story but "Alex Stone" in the video caption.
posted by msalt at 11:26 AM on December 12, 2014




If we're still linking stuff, here's Amanda Hess's essay Feminism Can Stand Without Jackie which states (and argues, and supports with a thorough collection of links) perfectly and exactly what I think and how I feel about this whole mess and the various other messes that feed into it. (Heh, I do hope five stars from jf won't put others off. Thank you, Amanda.)
posted by jfuller at 1:43 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ugh, Amanda Hess dumps more of Slate's patented awfulness there. I'm sorry, I tried to read it with an open mind, but it's so passive-aggressive, full of "of course we should never doubt rape victims but {now let's doubt jackie}. "

Who does Slate think it's target audience is? Young urban conservatives who can't quite own up to being reactionary and anti-feminist?
posted by msalt at 10:57 PM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


I feel like Rolling Stone needs to make a more detailed statement here. Given the magnitude of their error and the way the story doesn't appear to be dying down I'm not sure "oops, our bad... laterz!" is sufficient.
posted by Justinian at 3:14 PM on December 13, 2014


I believe they are doing an internal review, don't want to talk until it's done.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:41 PM on December 13, 2014


Ah, an internal review. I'm sure it's all good then.
posted by Justinian at 5:29 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the Slate article is targeted at people who think that there is a definite problem with rape culture, how they are handled at universities, how they are treated in general, but that doesn't mean ignoring very strong evidence that someone lied in this one, particularly lurid, case.

There was a strong, detailed narrative that was believed - but now large parts of it have been called into serious question. It doesn't make someone reactionary or anti-feminist to not replace evidence with only faith-based assumptions.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:49 PM on December 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


I have no problem with anything you wrote there -- but have you read the Amanda Hess article, or any of Slate's recent stuff on the subject? That's what I'm objecting to.

I feel like Rolling Stone needs to make a more detailed statement here.

I read somewhere that two of the 3 friends who went public -- the two guys -- have been contacted by "a Rolling Stone reporter" wanting an interview -- with a strong implication that Erdely is off the story, and of course she should be.

My hope is that Rolling Stone wants a do-over on this story, to get it right. That is the right instinct bu they have probably burned their bridges. I noticed that "Cindy" said they had not contacted her. Given that RS described her as "a self-described hookup queen" without talking to her, they probably figure there's no point even trying.
posted by msalt at 1:36 AM on December 14, 2014


I read the Amanda Hess article. That's why I talked specifically about it. I strongly disagreed with your description of it and who would find it a worthwhile read.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:16 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Could you please be more specific? Here are some of the things that bothered me about this article:

1) The Slate department is "XX Factor: What Women Really Think"
Oh, so you speak for the majority of the population? And other writers falsely represent women? Says who?

2) Title "Feminism Can Stand Without Jackie"
So now you speak for feminism as well! Impressive. How did you earn that privilege? "Amanda Hess is a Slate staff writer." End of credentials. Other articles: lots of clickbait, no consistent thinking. Uhhh....

3) The article begins with these words: "I’m told that this has been a bad couple of weeks for the anti-rape movement. ... feminists have raised alarms that [Roling Stone] magazine’s whiff will have devastating effects for past and future victims." What weird wording! She makes it all about her -- why would your article begin with the word "I"? And I thought you spoke for women and feminists -- why the distance all of a sudden? Are anti-rape activists non-feminist men?

4) Blatant contradictions, for example in paragraph 3, "There is also compelling evidence that Jackie herself fabricated all or parts of her story." Yet two paragraphs later, this smarmy lip service:
"There is never a wrong time to highlight the effects of traumatic crimes on their victims or how PTSD affects testimony, but it is misleading to suggest that Jackie’s experience is somehow normative of sexual assault victims in general. The NAESV’s [National Alliance to End Sexual Violence's] own advocates have presumably never counseled Jackie directly. [emphasis added] They do not know what happened to Jackie and do not understand all the various possible explanations for her behavior. Right now, none of us do. "

If none of us know what happened, how is there compelling evidence that she fabricated anything? By her own admission, Hess does not know, and yet she assumes that NAESV has never counseled Jackie when they very well might have -- and Hess clearly has not asked them if they did.

That's all in the first 5 paragraphs. I don't want to go on too long, but there is plenty more where that came from.
posted by msalt at 1:20 AM on December 15, 2014


Could you please be more specific?

Simply, no. I do not believe you had any intention of reading it fairly, as many of your problems and alleged contradictions with the article indicate, and am fairly certain based on how this thread has proceeded that the only thing carefully enunciating how I found the article interesting and not at all your description of 'conservative... reactionary and anti-feminist' would lead to would be both of us getting frustrated.

It would be of negative value to engage with you on this.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:21 AM on December 15, 2014


The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a newly released federal study regarding sexual assault on campus, which found, among other things, that student victims of sexual assault were less likely to go to the police than non-student victims, and the rate of sexual assault against students was slightly lower than the rate of assault against non-student victims in the same demographic (female, aged 18-24, United States).
posted by MoonOrb at 9:01 AM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Gadge Emeritus: I do not believe you had any intention of reading [Hess' article] fairly.... It would be of negative value to engage with you on this.

Wow, that's a bit nasty. "Reading fairly" does not require agreeing, or liking the tone.

Hess attacks a ridiculous straw man -- theoretical people wanting to ignore all evidence contradicting the RS article -- and argues that any journalist who even mentions studies showing false rape claims are rare is using "a questionable tactic." There's certainly no indication that she considers rape culture or the handling of rape allegations on campus a problem.
posted by msalt at 9:35 AM on December 15, 2014




and argues that any journalist who even mentions studies showing false rape claims are rare is using "a questionable tactic

That's not what she said, though. She said that using statistics which are based on evaluating reports made to the police when looking at a report made to the media is questionable because there is no real basis for deciding those are equivalent cases. A media statement could be more likely to be true or more likely to be false. We don't know.
posted by Justinian at 6:24 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


That is precisely what she said. She tried to justify it by nit-picking the only available studies, but that doesn't make citing the only available studies "pretending" or "a questionable tactic," words that strongly insinuate an ethical breach. Especially when she has no contrary data (because there isn't any).

Here are her exact words:

Even journalists who aren’t staking out a position on [the veracity of] Jackie’s story have turned to questionable tactics in order to shift the focus. Many have attempted to contextualize the fallout of the Rolling Stone article by pointing to statistics that show that false rape reports are an extremely rare phenomenon. .... But these studies refer to claims made to campus and local police departments; Jackie did not bring her story to them. I am not aware of any research investigating the veracity of rape claims told among friends, at campus consciousness-raising groups, or to the media. Perhaps these stories are more likely or less likely to be true. Why pretend that we know?

Even that nit-pick is wrong; Jackie DID report her assault to campus authorities, which UVa confirmed, though not to city police. The main focus of the RS piece was the lack of response to her complaint by campus authorities.
posted by msalt at 9:41 PM on December 15, 2014




CBS Evening News Twitter: Cosby's Wife Compares Rape Accusations Against Him To Rolling Stone UVA Story

Did anybody not see that coming? Heckuva job, Rolling Stone.
posted by Justinian at 10:30 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did anybody not see that coming? Heckuva job, Rolling Stone.

If it weren't that it would be a comparison to Anita Hill. It is weird and gross that you choose to deflect attention from a rape apologist to the party that she uses to justify her apologism.
posted by kagredon at 10:36 PM on December 15, 2014


msalt: I see where you're coming from but to me the Slate piece is just the sort of middle of the road and not particularly insightful editorial pablum you find in essentially every major outlet. Is there a similar piece in a major magazine or Slate-like source that you think was handled better? Or is that your point, that you don't think anybody in the big outlets handles this particularly well?
posted by Justinian at 10:37 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is weird and gross that you choose to deflect attention from a rape apologist to the party that she uses to justify her apologism.

Huh? I think its weird and gross that you think I'm deflecting attention. Weird.
posted by Justinian at 10:38 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


U-Va. rape survivor: Rolling Stone reporter had ‘an agenda’

Wow, thanks for that, Drinky Die. The headline is misleading. Watching that interview, I could only think, poor kid. A survivor herself, and dealing with this media insanity in the middle of exams. And even so her analysis is personal and straightforward while trying to assume the best of all parties (NO pun, and also--obviously excluding rapists, and probably the administration).
posted by torticat at 11:59 PM on December 15, 2014


Justinian: Interesting question. I assume you mean editorial responses to Rolling Stone's fiasco?

I think there's pretty much a consensus on what went wrong journalistically, and I've seen several sketch it out, but none especially good or bad (Hess aside, and I think she's doing something different and disingenuous.) Other editorials have had odd notes, too -- Margaret Talbot name-checking "my friend Hanna Rosin" and comparing Jackie's allegations to the McMartin preschool satanic ritual case was a little pitchy.

But generally - Erdely started out with an idea of what she wanted the story to be, rather than writing from facts. And her ambition to tell a story took her way past all ethical boundaries. The fact that Jackie wanted out and Erdely threatened to go ahead anyway if she didn't cooperate -- WTF?!? Describing "Cindy" as a "self-described hookup queen" when Erdely had never spoken to her?!?!?

I'm astonished at RS's poor fact-checking, given Matt Tabibi's reports that they're usually very tough. Erdely's not even consistent -- first saying Jackie didn't want her to contact Drew & co., then saying she tried but (lamely) "their web site was outdated." Which is it? You either tried to contact them or you didn't.

How did the fact checker not verify the frat (Erdely had the guy's name, and the 2012 pledge names are public knowledge) or the date of the party or the lifeguard job? Not talking to the three friends?

I think the biggest unanswered question, and my biggest beef with people like Hess who claim that Jackie "fabricated all or parts of her story" is that we don't know what Jackie told Erdely, and how much Erdely may have misheard, misquoted or outright changed that narrative. A lot of people are taking for granted that Jackie actually said what Erdely says she said. If there's anything this episode has taught us, it should be not to make that kind of assumption.
posted by msalt at 11:24 AM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Now there's a whole weird Kacee Nicoleish narrative in some news stories from yesterday and today involving fake texts and emails.

Washington Times
CNN
posted by ODiV at 3:59 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


CNN says Jackie identified frat-date who led gang assault as "Devon Monahan" - but no such student at UVa, ever. A week after the incident, "Devon" emailed Ryan Duffin (the friend who was uninterested in Jackie) with a one page essay Jackie wrote about how much she liked Duffin. The other friend, Alex Stock, says

"There's a very good chance whoever I was texting was Jackie. There's a definite possibility."

Also, the Atlantic has a longer-view deep dive: When Helping Rape Victims Hurts a College’s Reputation
posted by msalt at 4:06 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


a whole weird Kacee Nicoleish narrative

Man. I really hope Jackie will be okay. That part of the story sounds like ridiculous freshmen drama that got way out of hand. To have it publicly reported like this as fuel for the fire of the RS story, I can't imagine how crushing that must feel for her. I mean yeah, it looks like she was up to some stuff, but I can see how a young dumb kid could do that and never expect for it to be national news.
posted by torticat at 12:09 PM on December 18, 2014


I hope Jackie gets some help. Therapy, maybe. Because she needs it.

I started from the assumption that Jackie was a rape survivor and just hazy on the details because of trauma she endured.. Now, the more I read about all the lies and the manipulations, I am just as angry as I am saddened by this whole ugly story.

I can't really support the young dumb kid idea now, though I think it may have been a factor back when she was a freshman and came up with this convoluted scenario.

But now? It's two years later and she has had plenty of time to process what was going on back then. She used the pic of a high school classmate to fake a boyfriend and then turned him into a rapist. And she did it all out of a sad, desperate attempt to win the sympathy of her crush, who is now out of her life--yet she is STILL telling this story, not just to this reporter but at Take Back the Night and similar events for actual rape victims.

That's just disgusting, and it sickens me.
posted by misha at 6:38 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


We don't know all the facts yet. But it's odd that she should (apparently) be active in the anti-rape advocacy movement, giving talks around campus etc. if she made it all up.
posted by msalt at 7:11 PM on December 18, 2014


I don't know why I'm linking this because it is such a pointless detail. I think the only real significance is the sad realization that this is still probably the most significant news story The Daily Caller has ever been the first to break.

Did UVA Student Plagiarize ‘Dawson’s Creek’ In Love Letter To Friend?
posted by Drinky Die at 10:42 PM on December 18, 2014


I'd consider the media digging into the whole texting thing ridiculously hostile and petty if it didn't look like it was directly linked to the RS story through the identity of the rapist.

That plagiarism angle though? I agree that it's a pointless detail. Now it seems like they're just looking to put words out about whatever they can find related to this. I still read the story though and now I'm kinda disappointed in myself.
posted by ODiV at 7:58 AM on December 19, 2014


to fake a boyfriend and then turned him into a rapist.

Yeah, but in her mind, probably, it was a fictional character, so no harm no foul, right? She hadn't accused an actual person. She certainly never expected national news organizations would be digging into all of it. I don't know, I can see how it could have got out of hand and she felt like she was trapped with the story... but then I am willing to give kids a LOT of latitude for doing exceptionally dumb stuff they will regret later. I feel like the regret she's surely being subjected to now is all out of proportion to the original offense.

And, like, all the stuff about how "the girl who cried rape" plays into truly damaging tropes... putting that weight on the shoulders of a 17yo seems like too much to me. I hold Erdely more accountable for that than Jackie, as she was really the grownup in the situation. When, for example, Jackie wanted to back out of the RS story, that alone should have been a red flag.

But that's probably enough speculation from me. It's all really sad.
posted by torticat at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2014


Yeah, ultimately, this is all Rolling Stone's fault. It was their job to manage their reporter, just as it had been the reporter's job to responsibly shape material from her source. I could only speculate as to Jackie's mental state - and if RS had done their job, nobody would feel the need to do so.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:27 PM on December 19, 2014


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