A UVA Student Responds

Updated thoughts can be found here: A UVA Student Reflects

This morning an unfortunately familiar wave of oppression and darkness fell over UVA. Somber and hushed conversations sounded like a sorrowful murmur against the blustery wind of the eerie November cold. A community that had just come together and started a healing journey had received yet another strong blow.


A memorial to Hannah students created on UVA grounds.

It has been two months since Hannah Graham went missing. Her loss is one that the entire student body felt, as well as the faculty, staff, and residents in the surrounding Charlottesville area. The long process of healing has only just begun. People have come together more than ever before in support and encouragement.

In the midst of this atmosphere, Rolling Stone published the following article; causing the second wave of gloom to descend like a blanket over grounds:


The article is long, but definitely worth reading. There has been an enormous response to this article. Links are ubiquitously present on all social media platforms which are littered with opinions. It hardly feels appropriate to speak of anything else in a moment such as this.

There has been a lot of backlash critiquing the article as bad journalism; and a large outcry for fact checking.

These people are missing the point.

I agree that the article could have been written differently. There are a lot of sweeping generalizations and careful wording which dramatizes things that shouldn’t be. Perhaps not all the quotes are exact and perhaps they aren’t word for word what was actually exchanged during those events. However, this is nitpicking.

The main image from the article

This article has also sparked a lot of debate about how the faculty at the University, and others, have handled such cases, and what should be done in the future. Some are ignoring the fact that there are laws and policies in place which must be adhered to, however this does not mean that those laws and policies are effective and should exist in the first place. It is very disheartening that survivors feel hindered from coming forward for fear of being judged or losing social capital. I’ll be the first to admit that I am personally very frustrated by the whole broken system, and the feeling like there is little possibility of real change occurring. No one disagrees that there is a large need for change. The how is what is debated. This is a conversation that needs to happen, and it needs to happen soon. But it is also necessary to keep perspective and realize that change won’t happen overnight. This whole ordeal is infuriating, but I hope it can inspire hope and change and instill a sense of responsibility in the minds of everyone affected.

However, I, along with many others, fear that this article will be counterproductive. The divisiveness that results from something like this will cause strain on an already vulnerable community. The negative image of UVA that it depicts is going to taint all aspects of the University, including the good ones. My personal experience interacting with people at UVA, including those involved in Greek Life, has been nothing but positive. I do not discount the fact that others have had much different experiences than I have, but this article portrays the University as a whole and its students in a way that makes it seem like there is no good and there is no trust. By in large, this is a great place with great people. But like everywhere else in this twisted world, evil does exist.


The Academical Village

Regardless of the details, rape culture and gang rape is very much real. It is a huge problem; one which is not isolated simply to UVA. In all the controversy that has arisen surrounding this article, I fear the story will be lost in the chaos.

We need to let this story have its impact.  What has happened to “Jackie” and many others is horrific and makes me sick. To think that anyone could treat someone else in such a way is heartbreaking. The vivid memories she faces everyday should not exist. I hope that everyone who has experienced something like this can find healing and begin to see the good in the world again.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that our community comes together in support of each other, so that we can heal together. And in doing so, maybe, there can be one less.


25 thoughts on “A UVA Student Responds

  1. If we continue to come together under an ignorant administration, however, nothing gets changed. This may have been unfortunate timing but I’m sure the victims of these rapes wished they could’ve changed the timing under which they were assaulted. Don’t let your loyalties make you ignorant.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it needs to be brought to light that the author of the article didn’t set out to exploit UVa. She did an interview about the article and she mentioned that before writing anything, she interviewed multiple people on multiple campuses before choosing UVa. I do hope the community can come together and begin to have a real conversation about the policies and processes of sexual assault.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My issue is that there is too much emphasis on the “reputation” of the university. That, to me, is the problem. I also went to another prestigious school in Virginia and could never in a million years imagine any one of my classmates harking on the “reputation” of the school when a fellow classmate’s human rights had been so egregiously violated. That should be the last thing on the minds of the community, but it is the first thing mentioned in such a crisis and it speaks to the integrity of the community. To me, it reveals the true priorities of the community and it doesn’t take a genius to see.


  4. Although I agree with your interpretation and your experience being a positive one, I think UVA has a undeniable statistical track record for not complying with the very laws you point out. I think the misrepresentation of the severity of this issue aims to protect the college, and not the victims themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I find it absolutely disgusting that the first response to assault reports or an article detailing how UVA has shamefully let down its students when they are most in need is always to point out that “not everyone” is a rapist or “not everyone” is okay with what has happened on campus. “Not all of UVA is like this,” you say, but by defending an administration and a broken social system that perpetuates violent rape culture, you continue to bolster a system that makes college campuses a dangerous place for certain students. The focus should not be that “not all UVA students are like this,” but rather that some most certainly are. That is what needs to be talked about right now, and shame on anyone who falls back on the tired, repeated defense of a university that has critically failed its student body. Why is your foremost concern to remind people that “this is a great place with great people. But like everywhere else in this twisted world, evil does exist.” Why can’t you just be real and say that there are violent rapists on campus and that the administration is doing nothing about it? When your focus is that “there are still good people on campus”, you are defending a student body that has vilified and shunned rape victims. You demonstrate that you have entirely missed the point of articles like the Rolling Stone one and you disrespect the courage of victims everywhere coming forward.


    • You can say that “not all ____ are ____” while still rallying for progress. By saying SOME certainly are you create a witch hunt and perpetuate FEAR by making every woman and man assume people are rapists. I think that reputation of the University should be a low priority in comparison to the violation of a human’s rights (as some other user mentioned here), but to say there’s a rape culture and that there should be a fear-mongering witch hunt of rapists (most likely to cause a discrimination against men) is silly.


    • No, YOU have missed the point of what this person was trying to say. By blaming everyone associated with the university (even students), you are not promoting any positive movement to fix the problem. You just want to hide behind you’re fucking keyboard like a keyboard warrior and type out dumbass comments like this one without ever trying to critically think.


  6. Who wins from this article? UVA? The victims? Other undisclosed sexual abusees around grounds? How about the reporter and Rolling Stone?

    It’s too hard to say what’s going on here, but I’ve got just an overwhelming impression that the article is just bad, for our school, and practically everyone involved. Journalism of this sort is never designed to discover truth, but to raise an outcry against injustices, whether those injustices are completely founded need to be sorted out by a criminal investigation, not a for-profit online magazine. The story was too public to be true, and too detailed to be false.

    I just pray this doesn’t get too out of hand. There’s far too much potential for damage here, especially after Hannah Graham. The last thing we want is sensationalism ruining the way our community came together after her disappearance, and I fear too much that this is what the article attempts to create.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If just ONE rapist can be stopped because of this article, then it is a success. If ONE victim can be saved because of the awareness raised by this article…it will be a rousing success.
      Stop blaming the writer and stop defending the people who do not need to be defended. The “good people of UVA” do not need to be defended. The victims need to be protected, the rapists need to be stopped and brought to justice, and the culture of covering up the crime and protecting the reputation of the school at all costs, must end.


    • Exposing truth is never bad. If you’re more worried about the impact of the article being bad for UVA, rather than seeing that the article sheds light upon a broken system and potentially will spur people to act to fix that system, you’re part of the problem.


  7. Sorry but the following lines sound very similar to Jackie’s friends telling her not to report it so as to not damage uva’s rep: “However, I, along with many others, fear that this article will be counterproductive. The divisiveness that results from something like this will cause strain on an already vulnerable community. The negative image of UVA that it depicts is going to taint all aspects of the University, including the good ones.”

    Sounds like you’re saying you wish this article didn’t come out because it will do harm to all the good uva does. I agree that maybe it’s bad timing for you guys but this article is bigger than uva and the Hannah Graham part of the story proves it; that dude was a serial rapist that kept getting away with it in college and look what it lead to – two dead girls. Sorry that uva had to get the brunt of this article but don’t let your cavalier loyalty get in the way of your humanity.


  8. You are buying into that culture that prevented Jackie from reporting the rape in the first place. You literally pitted the same arguments that her friends did to discourage her from taking action against the men who raped her. “The negative image that it depicts of UVA” – WHAT THE FUCK? SEVEN GUYS RAPED A GIRL. SEVEN. The author clearly interviewed multiple people and found a pervasive issue; the concern for the university’s image should NOT take precedence over justice for women. You perpetuate the issue. YOU ARE THE ISSUE. You are just as disgusting as the men who raped her.


    • Your personal attack on the author shows your own ignorance. Will that help this situation in any way? The answer is clearly no. If you do not agree with the author’s view, perhaps you should spend your time thinking of a solution to the problem rather than attacking hers.


  9. I sincerely hope you’re not planning on taking writing, or being a decent person, seriously in life as you’ve proven with this that you’re incapable of either of those things. Yes, it’s awful what happened to Hannah, but this article’s been in formation longer than that’s been a news item, I’m sure. In addition to that, you offer no proof or real rebuttal other than stating that it might divide your snobby school further. Is that such a bad thing? Is division really a bad thing when it’s clear your school has an incredibly awful rape culture as a whole? Perhaps you need to reevaluate how you think, perhaps this is bigger than your awful university’s perceived notion of unity. Sorry if you thought this was well written or proves anything but it just doesn’t. You really think you can offer a decent rebuttal to an in-depth ten page article with this opinionated, biased page and a half of rambling? Good god, I feel bad for you, perhaps that’s the saddest thing about your school. You think you’re a lot smarter than you are and perhaps you should humble yourself and focus on changing your school’s culture instead of getting upset when people point it out.


  10. I fail to see how personal attacks on the author will solve anything. If you do not agree with him/her, perhaps your time would be better spent thinking of other solutions to the problem. Nothing will be accomplished if UVA students turn against each other- this is a time to stand as a united front, not a divided one.


    • “united front” with – or against – who exactly? those that would criticize UVa and suggest that it is time for some much needed reforms? a reporter and her magazine? Who are you calling the community to stand in solidarity with – victims seeking some justice, or defenders of the hard-partying/see-no-evil status quo (which includes the administration, apparently)???


  11. I think that all this ridiculous, meaningless language “changing the conversation” blah blah blah is beyond idiotic. People are ridiculously selfish. UVA is an old establishment, and a overall great academic community. Nothing is going to happen to them, so they need to accept responsibility for their inaction. Every person involved needs to be focusing on these poor girls and stop griping about themselves and the “institution’s reputation”. Have a heart, for the love of God. And also, from a professional PR perspective, if the school was highlighting these issues instead of brushing them under the rug, they would look a heck of a lot better to prospective students, their parents, and everyone else concerned. Shame on you whoever wrote this, shame on your ego and your desire to cover up to keep this hush hush, and putting on an act of sadness when you should be realizing the Rolling Stone article, for lack of a better phrase, was just calling your school out on its shortcomings. Furthermore, that fraternity, which positively no one would ever in their right mind call “top tier” (I’m sure those disgusting guys ate that up), needs to be banned and dissolved immediately. All those repugnant pigs involved in the rapes need to be brought to justice now. Who cares whether or not they graduated.


  12. I think the murder of Hannah Graham is a terrible tragedy. I think many people at many institutions did little or nothing when called upon to confront the evil person who stands accused of her murder. And more people suffered and died because of those choices. In too many ways Penn State experienced the same thing with the Sandusky disgrace. Responsible people in positions of power, who should have known better, decided to do nothing!

    An institution’s primary goals are to preserve and protect the institution. It doesn’t matter if a man or woman runs the place. It is an exceptional leader that will do the right thing at great personal cost. Unfortunately, academia is much, much too like the rest of society in this regard.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.”


  13. What happened to these girls is horrendous. But, if you have the courage to come forward to tell your story in what is bound to be, to some extent, a divisive article, then you MUST own the personal responsibility to take all legal means to prosecute those responsible. Only then will this become a true act of courage rather than be seen as a smear on all Greek or UVA “culture”, both bad and good at UVA.


  14. I learned about the Rolling Stones article yesterday through my daughter, a senior at a competitive independent school outside of Virginia. She somehow came across this blog and forwarded the link to my husband and me with the message: “I don’t think I want to apply to UVA after all.”
    As a parent, I had mixed feelings about how to respond, but ultimately, it’s her decision and one she has to be comfortable with, so we simply told her today, “We’re OK with that if it’s choice.” (For context, she had expressed reservations about going to college with “preppy, privileged frat boy types” who were commonplace at her previous private school in Norfolk, Va.. She once observed that many of these guys are mini-clones of their dad and can’t seem to think critically and independently for themselves – or at least don’t have the guts to speak up lest they be perceived as different.)


  15. I am reposting the following – please take note!
    Suggest you all take a look at this


    Seems that Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the Rolling Stone article attacking Phi Psi has a history of writing hit pieces on people and institutions she does not like. Her formula is to combine innuendo, graphic descriptions of sex and, conveniently anonymous victims to attack. Without an accuser her targets are defenseless. She plays fast and loose with the truth. Anyone remember the Duke Lacrosse team? Maybe the staff at the Cavalier Daily should get off their butts and practice a little journalism. Do a little research on Ms. Erdely and her history. Frankly her piece reads like a cheap novel. There is a story here and I suspect it is not what you think.


    • Seriously? You’re citing William Donohue and the Catholic League? Ms. Erdely’s piece on the Philadelphia Diocese pedophilia scandal wan’t a hit piece. Monsignor William Lynn was convicted of lying to a grand jury … the story she wrote accurately detailed the usual shuffling around of pedophile priests, of covering up child rape, of protecting the institution instead of children. The facts were established in a court of law and a grand jury found that Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua actively covered up the abuse. Lynn went to prison. It’s a huge scandal, it’s cost the church millions of dollars. The accuracy of her article on UVA is certainly worth examining, but unless you’re just a paid troll for the Catholic League, citing her work in exposing the truth about widespread abuse and coverup in Philadelphia in order to discredit her reporting is wildly off the mark. Donohue is a very sick man, famous for his homophobia and outlandish statements. The Catholic League has no official standing with the Catholic Church whatsoever. Wrong guy to cite here Leev, whoever you are.


  16. I think this school is big enough to handle the truth and change accordingly, especially with a woman now at the helm, and THAT’S the reputation I want our school to have.


  17. The school’s administration has failed and I understand that you, a student, do not like the negative attention, but do not change the topic to be something that takes the focus off of the schools issues by saying that “not isolated to UVA.” While completely true, the issue at hand is in fact with your administration! Other schools do not condone this behavior at all and yours… have failed to do so. They have let you down and I am sorry for that. It is so disheartening to see that you still have missed the point and you are still embarrassed because of the reputation your school now has. This was a nice gesture, but your underlying message just proves that you are just embarrassed.


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