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End the Culture of Rape at UVa

This petition had 6,534 supporters


I am a graduate of the University of Virginia, a lawyer, a mother, and a resident of Charlottesville. I write as a representative of thousands of current UVa students, hopeful future students, alumni, and friends.

Our beloved University has been shocked and sickened upon learning of the brutal assaults described in a Rolling Stone article. Several women gave credible accounts of sexual violence that occurred on campus--including a gang-rape by seven male students that may have been part of a fraternity initiation. The University's response to such assaults has been anemic. It seems that you, the University leadership, value the school's reputation, endowments, and legal liability more than justice for the victims or the maintenance of a safe and caring community. In the past decade, almost 200 students have been expelled for lying, cheating, or stealing. Not one student has been expelled for committing a rape. The community was never told of the suspected assaults described in the article, and the rapists continued walking these Grounds, protected by victim-shaming, money, and a culture that doesn't take such allegations seriously.

You, President Teresa Sullivan, issued a tepid and half-hearted response to the article, citing proposed changes to "Sexual Misconduct" policies--which, for example, would require the Sexual Misconduct Board to consider suspension or expulsion as a punishment for rapists. President Sullivan, that's not good enough. When you were fired by the Board in a dishonorable and nontransparent way, students and alumni rallied for you--we fought for you, and we won. We, the people, feel betrayed by your lack of outrage and call for real reforms. You're our leader; act like one.

Today, we demand an investigation by an outside panel of the University's policies, procedures, and past practices as to reports of sexual assaults, including the reported gang-rape at Phi Kappa Psi. We demand the firing of any administrators or staff found to have been negligent in their legal responsibilities regarding sexual assault reports. We demand the University adopt, through a public and transparent process, meaningful changes to policies regarding the prevention of and response to sexual assaults--beyond the minimum standards required by law. We demand that the University take every possible legal action to identify and punish the perpetrators of the gang-rape described in Rolling Stone. We demand that Phi Kappa Psi be immediately and permanently shuttered. We demand expulsion as the mandatory sanction for the commission of any act of sexual violence. Finally, we demand that the name of the Sexual Misconduct Board be replaced by a title that better reflects the seriousness and brutality of sexual violence rather than the minor pranks of mischievous schoolboys.

Until these things happen, you can expect continued and growing outrage, and diminishing respect for your leadership and the University itself.



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