The University of Virginia is currently under scrutiny after Rolling Stone published an article reporting the alleged rape of a woman in 2012. The story graphically depicted how seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house assaulted the woman during a party.
The university’s president, Teresa Sullivan, announced that the school has a problem and has begun to outline a series of initiatives to protect women at the school, reports NBC News.
“The wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to re-examine our responsibility to this community,”school President Teresa A. Sullivan wrote in a statement to the university community. “Rape is an abhorrent crime that has no place in the world, let alone on the campuses and grounds of our nation’s colleges and universities.”
Local police are calling on bystanders to help put the story together and prosecute the men who are responsible for the alleged crime.
In reaction to the allegations, the school has suspended all fraternities and associated parties until after January 9th, according to Ralph Ellis for CNN.
The school is looking to tighten up regulations on Greek life on campus and drinking.
While many people agree that sexual assault is a growing problem on college campuses, the public and press alike have doubts about the credibility of the Rolling Stone story.
A reporter for The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz, posted on Facebook that she found the story to be “awfully thin” and linked readers to an article written by Richard Bradley, a seasoned magazine editor who worked on some of the famously-fabricated stories written by Stephen Glass.
Then there’s the fact that Jackie apparently knew two of her rapists, but they are not named, nor does Rubin Erdely contact them, which is basically a cardinal rule of journalism: If someone in your story is accused of something, you’d better do your damnedest to give them a chance to respond. There’s no sign that Rubin Erdely did so. Why not? Did she not know their names? Would Jackie not tell her? Because if Rubin Erdely knew their names and didn’t call them, that is horrible journalism and undermines confidence in her reporting. And if she didn’t know their names—well, we’re back in Patrick Witt-land again.
Erdely claims that the alleged “were kind of hard to get in touch with”, writes Ali Elkin for Bloomberg.
While it’s understandable that identities were left out of the story, other important features were left out as well such as qualifiers like “according to Jackie” or “allegedly”. The absence of these makes it seem like the event is an undisputed fact, when at the moment it’s an uninvestigated case.
The sloppy journalism combined with an incredible story that leaves the reader asking some important questions leads people to question if the story is true at all, writes Robby Soave for Reason.