No tolerance for rape

All schools need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for rape

Yejean Kim

When I first read the Rolling Stone article, “A Rape on Campus,” that has been the center of a media uproar for over two weeks now, I was walking to dinner at the sorority houses. I had a chance encounter with a friend on campus, who simply said, “You need to read this.” She sent me the link via text, and I did.

For the fifteen minutes it took me to walk to the houses, and for some time after, I read with increasing horror, disgust, confusion, and overall, heartbreak.

I felt a deep compassion that sadly I have not ever felt when reading about the other terrible things that happen in the world. The University of Virginia is close by, but why, I wondered, do I feel so personally affected by this story?

The answer lies in a sad truth. As an affiliated woman on this campus, I have seen reactions to this story run the gamut, from “That could never happen here” to “Oh my god, do you think things like that happen here?” I have had discussions lasting hours and I have had conversations lasting minutes about this story. And the one thing I have culled from all these different opinions and beliefs is that every woman I spoke to, affiliated or not, personally knows someone or of someone who has been sexually assaulted on this campus.

Often, when people hear about W&L’s appalling rape statistics, there are attempts to explain it away, as if it was simply a fact sheet and not anyone’s harsh reality. It’s a small school, people say. Of course you know someone this has happened to. We’re so small that the stats must be skewed. And the list goes on and on.

Anyone who uses social media has now seen that parts of the story are being called into question, and that Rolling Stone has distanced itself, though the author and the survivor are standing by their accounts.

Recently, in response to these revelations, UVA President Teresa Sullivan said in a message to the UVA community: “Over the past two weeks, our community has been more focused than ever on one of the most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today: sexual violence on college campuses. Today’s news must not alter this focus.”

This, I think, is the prevailing message to take away from everything that’s happened. W&L is not UVA. But the ugly truth is, rape happens on college campuses across the country, even ours, and whether those rapes occur at fraternity sanctioned events or are isolated incidents, there should be a zero-tolerance policy regarding them and those who rape. Only then can we see a day when the statistics too are at zero, and that our community is as whole and safe as it appears on the surface.