a rollback for violence prevention
Last November, Rolling Stone published an article entitled ‘A Rape on Campus,’ a graphic, compelling account of one University of Virginia student’s sexual assault and the failure of the university’s administration to adequately address her case. This article received viral circulation, with more online views than any other piece unrelated to a celebrity by the magazine. However, as a result of criticisms from other publications regarding the specifics of the story, in early December, an editor’s note was appended to the article that, effectively, retracted the entire story. Additionally, a police investigation confirmed that there was no evidence to support that the University of Virginia student had been a victim of sexual assault.
According to the managing editor of the magazine, many of the problems cited by the story’s critics seemed to indicate a systematic failure on the part of Rolling Stone to properly investigate and report on the story, and, Sunday, Rolling Stone published a report by members of the Columbia School of Journalism outlining the procedural failures of the magazine in reporting the story.
The investigational failure of the magazine to adequately determine the facts of the story before publication have, without a doubt, hurt the cause of sexual violence prevention across the nation. We feel that to report so poorly on a story so graphic that it draws international attention to such an important cause is shamefully negligent at best.
The misrepresentation of this story has set back the national dialogue of campus sexual assault, casting doubt on survivors who step forward and discouraging others from doing so. We cannot allow this misrepresentation to cause us to treat sexual assault survivors with anything other than the compassion and care they deserve.
We must always try to eradicate violence of any form on our campus. Green dots are positive, but creating an environment in which they are unnecessary is the ultimate achievement.