It’s been a terrible semester at Mr. Jefferson’s University. Suicides. The apparent kidnapping, rape, and murder of Hannah Graham. And now this: allegations of not one but at least three gang rapes at one of the University of Virginia’s most prestigious fraternities: Phi Kappa Psi.
The latest horror story to emerge from UVA was chronicled in Rolling Stone by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. Her story, filled with multiple accounts of rape and sexual assault in and around Rugby Road, the university’s fraternity row, reveals an almost unbelievably dark underbelly to fraternity life at UVA, where I teach sociology.
In the face of stories like this, the reflexive response of many on the right has been way too dismissive. We are told of a “vast feminist-industrial complex that is addicted to institutionalized panic” on such matters. In an article touching on sexual assault, George Will contends that “victims proliferate” because victimhood has been made “a coveted status that confers privileges.” And Camille Paglia inveighs against “hysterical propaganda about our ‘rape culture,’” propaganda which does not come close to capturing what’s happening most of the time on the nation’s college campuses: namely, “oafish hookup melodramas, arising from mixed signals and imprudence on both sides.”