Campus rape is the hot button issue of the hour and nowhere is it hotter than on the UVA campus, having been cast into the spotlight by last year’s Rolling Stone article.
And now, it is back in the headlines again after UVA sorority sisters received orders from the National Panhellenic Conference to stay away from frat parties, apparently part of some misguided attempt to prevent date rape, or worse, even more bad publicity.
This is happening not too long after UVA temporarily suspended Greek activities as a response to the Rolling Stone story.
That Rolling Stone story may now be discredited, but it contained one nugget of truth: when it comes to tackling sexual assault and rape on campus, the higher-ups do not seem to be of much help.
It is unbelievably patronizing, not to mention downright stupid to tell these women that if they do not want to get raped, they should simply avoid frat parties.
The fraternities are not the problems. Sexual assault and rape are the problems.
If avoiding fraternities actually was a magic “get out of rape free” card, I would imagine we would not be seeing what the White House is calling an “epidemic” of sexual assault.
Please do not misunderstand this as me saying that sexual assaults never happen at frat parties, because they undoubtedly do. The thing is that they can also happen literally anywhere else. “Don’t go to places where rapes happen” is not good or useful advice.
This is not about the rights of women in sororities to go out and party, but the failures of these institutions to adequately address what actually causes sexual assault.
If the NPC is so concerned about the safety and well-being of these women at frat parties, then perhaps it is time to sit down the men of these fraternities and talk to them about strategies for preventing sexual assault on campus.
If UVA wants to protect its students, it will have to do more than address just a fraction of its students.
It’s great that institutions are starting to take campus sexual assault seriously, but their methods and solutions leave a lot to be desired, and may cause more harm than good in the long run.
Maybe the problem here is that we are relying too much on academic institutions to handle a problem that is better suited for the police.