Student leaders at the University of Virginia, horrified by a reported gang rape that led to the suspension of fraternities, vowed Monday to change the school’s culture and make it safer for victims of sexual assault to come forward.
"Enough passivity. Enough stigma. Enough silence," said Ashley Brown, the president of a sexual assault education group called One Less.
The president of the Student Council, Jalen Ross, said: "This is our problem to solve. And that means that every single one of us, all of us, have a role to play in finding that solution."
In a Rolling Stone article published last week, a woman said she was attacked by seven men at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party when she was an 18-year-old freshman. She said some of her friends urged her not to report the crime. There have been no arrests.
The Rolling Stone article quoted critics as saying that the school administration does not take sexual-assault claims seriously. It also said that no student has ever been expelled from the school for sexual assault.
The university suspended all fraternity activities through Jan. 9, and President Teresa Sullivan said she was appalled and felt "great rage." School administrators will meet Tuesday.
The student leaders who spoke Monday did not offer specific proposals to change campus culture. “We are here saying we are unified against this issue. Now the ball is in your court,” Brown said. “It is up to you to make the institutional change. We are here fighting for the cultural change.”