Within hours of Rolling Stone publishing Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s harrowing report, “A Rape on Campus,” the article went viral and the outpouring of comments from women, both UVA students and alumni as well as others, who shared their own stories of campus sexual assault was stunning. Below is a selection of those comments that further illuminate the chilling frequency with which sexual assault on campus occurs.
I was also raped at UVA in a frat house in 2013. I reported it through the Sexual Misconduct Board at the University and had it tried in 2014. My evidence included texts calling for help, police testimony consistent with mine, and numerous witnesses. But the University still found him innocent. I found Nicole Eramo very unfeeling as well — sociopathic, almost. She later told me she didn’t believe the studies that showed rapists, in particular, were repeat offenders of this heinous crime. It was a very negative experience to go through — to be raped and then told that your offender was innocent. I even left clothing as I ran out of the frat house that the University gathered as evidence and it was never returned to me. Not that the clothing was important. It wasn’t. The police discouraged me from pursuing it criminally, saying that I didn’t have enough evidence to win. They also told me that I should be cautious about pursuing this formally, since court proceedings and news articles related to my case could spread publicly on the Internet. For privacy reasons (I didn’t want future employers to Google me and see that I brought forward rape charges), I decided to pursue justice through the University. But the outcome of this process was painful and disappointing. I will never stop wondering why UVA so often expels students for academic lying, cheating, and stealing but has never once expelled a student for rap.
My best friend is a survivor of sexual assault at UVA and she has told me numerous times that Dean Eramo was a constant source of support through the entire process. The article is accurate in bringing to light the fact that changes need to be made, however little progress will be made by firing people who are trying to help student.
I am so sorry for what happened to you, Jackie, and I wish I had been brave enough my freshman year to report what happened to me. But fearing the very same things – backlash, no consequences – I chose to stay quiet. I support you, I am proud of you and what you did is going to change lives. You are forcing an administration to admit its wrongdoings, and you are getting national attention, which will help to stop this misogyny, violence and pain from affecting more people. I know that feeling like a martyr is never going to feel as good as the girl you were before this happened to you, but your struggle has significance and you are needed in this world.
Another UVA Female and Ally – UVA female student
As a fourth year female at UVA, this article made me cry. Statistically speaking, you have almost definitely encountered a rapist on school grounds. The problem is that most of the students here too oblivious to know that they are rapists. Two days a week, I enjoy the experience of sitting in a small class with a person who raped one of my closest friends. Had I been unaware of the incident, I would not know he was a rapist: Rapists blend in. He was not punished, despite a trial replete with corroborating evidence on the victim’s part. Second-hand, I have heard of many – countless even – incidents of sexual violence in my four years here. And I can tell you that this article captures our school’s problem accurately. I love the University of Virginia, but what I don’t love are people ignoring the problem – and it is indeed a problem.
Hibiscus Old ‘Hoo
I went to UVA in the Eighties and this was spot-on then. It all echoes my own personal experience. There was a culture of sexual assault, along with a disdain for those who attempt to report it, and it apparently continues to this day. I am grateful that this is finally being brought into the light
Mad UVA Mom
I went to UVA in the early Eighties and I can tell you that although the administration has changed and Charlottesville has grown in the last 30 years, the culture sounds exactly the same as it always has – right down to the same fraternities with the same reputation. Even then we had a fraternity we called “the coke-bottle rapists” and knew to stay away from that house. That was 1980. Maybe these are the sons of those guys?
Thank you to Jackie. I have been through this process and it has been kept in the dark corners of things I will never forget for the rest of my life. I was physically assaulted. The police officer that was supposed to speak on my behalf for a protective order in a local Charlottesville court never showed up. I was not granted a restraining order, despite being harassed by the perpetrator and his friends. The perpetrator was actually found guilty of assault during my trial. He left unscathed and is now a practicing physician. I reached out to various sources in an effort to bring this issue to light with no luck, too many obstacles and far too many days filled with self-doubt and tears. Today is a good day for the hushed survivors of sexual assault at UVA.
Of course not every student at UVA is getting raped, but it happens, and as a survivor I can say that everything written here is so true. My experience echoes those of the women in this article. It brought me to tears. Thank you so much for bringing this incredibly important topic to light.
I have experienced it first-hand. Do you actually believe it’s normal for a school never to have expelled a rapist? Seriously? They have no compunction in expelling dozens of students every year for violating the honor code, but not repeat rapists. How can you defend such a policy?
Someone very close to me was sexually assaulted while visiting UVA. A part of her life is ruined, and as a loved one the heartbreak is unbearable. I can’t stand Charlottesville. Thank you for writing this article.
I am a fourth year at UVA. My best friend was raped at a fraternity her first year on “Boys Bid Night.” She went to her dean for help and he discouraged her from filing a report or going to the police. The boy was never charged or expelled. The UVA community constructs a culture in which victims of rape would rather let their attacker go free than tarnish UVA’s good name. Is this really a University to be proud of?
I am a second year at UVA. I was assaulted by a fraternity member in his apartment last year. My dean implied that it was my fault for having had a previous relationship with him. He was never charged or expelled, but I’ve heard that he’s attacked other girls. Lots of ‘hoos are saying that rape happens everywhere, not just UVA. But that doesn’t make it OK at UVA either, and we should work on creating a climate where rape is taken seriously by all.
I had to struggle through this article as a survivor of rape myself, and it is really hard to imagine being a person my age, in college, and trying to figure out how to be an adult while also dealing with the trauma of being raped by seven men. When I hear about these kinds of things (which is, unfortunately, fairly often) I thank God that I chose VCU instead of UVA. But at the same time I feel guilty because innocent people – even people I KNOW and went to school with – have had their lives ruined because UVA doesn’t take sexual assault seriously enough. It was just chance that I ended up at a school that shuts down behavior like that, and they ended up at a school that allows it. It’s not fair that, when all the high school seniors leave for college, some students are moving toward their bright futures while others are moving toward their worst nightmares.
As a lawyer, my biggest question is why do we continue to allow universities to deal with rape cases without making them alert the authorities? My sister is a freshman at William and Mary (also under federal investigation for the same issues) and when we dropped her off earlier this fall, I told her that, God-forbid, anything happens to her, she should go straight to the Williamsburg police because the school won’t do anything about it. Rape is a felony. A one-year suspension for raping somebody is laughing in the face of the victim. These men need to be tried in a court and properly dealt with. Part of the reason why sexual assault on college campuses is so prevalent is because there are few, if any, legal repercussions.