So, the credibility of the Rolling Stone article about the gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity has been demolished. I’ll let others sort through the wreckage to determine how much, if any, of the rape story can be believed. The more interesting question now is, where does that leave the University of Virginia leadership? What’s the next move?
The first thing President Teresa Sullivan should do is reverse the shut-down of fraternity and sorority social functions until the spring semester. The crackdown on the Greek social organizations was a panicked reaction to horrifying allegations that the university administration and Board of Trustees appeared all too willing to accept at face value. The shut-down also was indiscriminate, punishing all fraternities and sororities, even though the rape was alleged to have occurred at only one. First the UVa leadership acted before the facts were known; then it punished the innocent.
The next thing Sullivan needs to do is get a handle on whether there is, in fact, an “epidemic of rape” at UVa and, if so, what the nature of that epidemic is. Is it a matter of predatory frat boys drugging or coercing young women into unwanted sex on a massive scale? Is a matter of rampant and promiscuous drunken couplings which the women later regret? Is it a jumble of the two or something else altogether?
It also would be worthwhile to know whether the epidemic of rape/regret sex is confined to the alcohol-soaked fraternity scene, or whether it also takes place in university dormitories or off-grounds housing. Is it fair to blame the fraternities or is the problem wider in scope?
A highly vocal feminist movement has been largely successful in imposing its epidemic-of-rape narrative upon the ongoing controversy. Perhaps predator males are unleashing an epidemic of rape — clearly there is a problem of some sort — but I’m not going to believe it just on the say-so of ideologically motivated activists. As an alumnus, I want to see a dispassionate presentation of the facts.
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