Universities reconsider procedure for sexual assault cases after scandal

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer

Questionable reporting of a fraternity rape case has universities re-evaluating how rape cases are handled.

Rolling Stone’s original article, “A Rape on Campus,” published on Nov. 19, 2014, featured a University of Virginia woman’s story about being gang-raped by seven Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members. The article also highlighted UVA’s history of apathy toward sexual assaults on campus.

On Dec. 5, 2014, Rolling Stone announced it found “discrepancies” in the story and said it was wrong of them to publish the story without reporting both sides.

Inconsistencies reported included the number of people involved in the gang-rape, descriptions of the attackers, a text message and Phi Kappa Psi saying it had no parties during the time period the rape was said to occur.

According to USA Today, the Rolling Stone magazine has people doubting the rape accusation as the new facts surface, but UVA President Teresa Sullivan will continue to focus on improving university procedures.

Because the article put into question UVA’s handle on student safety, the university is assessing itself.

George Martin, rector of the University of Virginia’s board of visitors, made a public statement that the Virginia Attorney General selected an independent counsel to review the university’s policy, practices and procedures in regard to sexual assault.

“The safety of our students is our first and foremost priority,” said Martin.

At EWU, fraternity members must stay up to date on sexual assault prevention.

“On our campus, probably the most educated students around [sexual assault] issues are sororities and fraternities,” said Tricia Hughes, director for Health, Wellness and Prevention Services. “Their national chapters and guidelines here at Eastern call for them to get sexual assault education at least quarterly.”

Quintin Barnard, 2015 president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity Washington Gamma chapter at EWU, said SigEp members took seminars about sexual assault and sex in general during Fall and Spring quarters 2014.

UVA fraternities have been affected by the article.

The University of Virginia suspended all Greek Life activities after the story came out, and The
Washington Times reported on Nov. 20, 2014, that the UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house had all its first-floor windows smashed and hate messages painted on the walls.

“Fraternities are supposed to build better men, that’s what we stand for at SigEp, and to see that a fraternity would fall so low just breaks my heart,” said Barnard. “But I also know that after hearing now that [the article] is kind of false, it kind of makes me feel like people still don’t have a good view of fraternities, to the point where they would just take a woman, a source, and not gather as much information. They just assume it’s true because it’s a fraternity.”