(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan addressed the school’s students on Monday as part of the university’s continued response to a recent Rolling Stone magazine article that detailed a student’s accusation of an on-campus rape and the way in which the investigation into that accusation was handled.
Sullivan noted that the story raised questions in her own mind and that the university will work to learn the answers to the questions. Among those questions, Sullivan specifically asked rhetorically, “Do we do everything possible to protect every student at UVA?”, “Have we provided the proper emphasis on both supporting survivors and encouraging reporting?”, “What is the role of alcohol?”, and “What is the role of Greek life?”
“Let me say emphatically that how we answer these questions is not about protecting the University’s reputation,” Sullivan said Monday. “It is about doing the right thing, and the reputation I care about the most is not being afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead. We will not be doing business as usual in spring 2015. We will fearlessly examine ourselves and our culture, while we also cooperate fully with the independent investigation underway.”
Sullivan said her goal is to identify any “subculture that hurts any UVA students or exploits any of our fellow Wahoos” and “find out where it hides and root it out.”
“UVA is too good a place to allow this evil to reside,” Sullivan declared, aiming to “make this school a safe and welcoming place for all.”
Sullivan also discussed the necessity for the university to continuously improve its handling of rape cases, properly affording victims the support they need while also valuing and supporting the reporting of sexual assault.
Sullivan also said on Monday that she would authorize the funding and hiring of an additional trauma counselor for the school’s Women’s Center, at the request of both the Women’s Center and student organization One Less, which aims to prevent sexual assault.
The university must continue to take steps to prevent rape, which Sullivan called “a national problem,” she added. “We will not stop until every student feels safe and secure and free to learn and live and grow.”
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