Amid controversy stemming from a Rolling Stone article describing the alleged sexual assault of a University of Virginia (UVA) undergraduate student at a campus fraternity party, students at UVA’s Darden School of Business have chosen to host special events to educate the Darden community on the school’s sexual assault policy.
The Darden School Association (DSA) organized a “Not on Our Grounds” First Coffee – using the informal community gathering that takes place in Darden’s PepsiCo Forum each morning after the first class of the day as an opportunity to discuss the case in the news as well as the Not on Our Grounds campus initiative to end sexual violence.
The DSA also hosted a special town hall meeting on Wednesday, December 3rd, to help address the issue of sexual assault. “The purpose of the town hall was to further educate our community about the sexual assault policy, as well as to hear from professionals and undergraduate student leaders about the initiatives they are undertaking to help generate awareness,” DSA President Heidi Davies said in a statement.
The town hall meeting included a panel discussion moderated by Darden Professor Bobby Parmar. Panelists included Nick Hine, chair of the UVA Honor Committee; Brian Head, representative of the UVA chapter of One in Four, an all-male sexual assault peer education group; Nicole Thomas, UVA program coordinator for prevention in the Office of the Dean of Students; and Jalen Ross, president of the UVA Student Council.
“Sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in the nation,” Hine said as part of the panel.
“It operates in the shadows,” said Head, the representative from One in Four. The national organization, which advocates for support for survivors of sexual assault and bystander intervention, has had a UVA chapter for the past 12 years. “People don’t want to talk about it, so they push it away. Now, at UVA, we’re in the public eye and in a unique position to get everyone’s attention on this,” Head continued.
Among other things, the panelists proposed ways that members of the Darden community can help combat sexual violence. Some of the suggestions included supporting agencies that provide support and counseling to students, commenting on a newly proposed Student Sexual Misconduct Policy that is open for public comment through December 20th, taking the Not on Our Grounds pledge to end sexual violence, joining a student advocacy group such as One in Four or the all-female group One Less and attending a Take Back the Night event.
UVA has been at the center of an ongoing story since the Rolling Stone article first ran in November. The magazine has since issued an apology, stating, “In the face of new information reported by the Washington Post and other news outlets, there now appear to be discrepancies” in the account of the woman at the center of the story. Regardless, the incident has attracted widespread attention to the issue of sexual assault at UVA and beyond.