by Jared Geoghan
The publication of the explosive article “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” in Rolling Stone detailed a brutal gang rape that allegedly occurred in a fraternity at the University of Virginia. When the magazine subsequently admitted “a misplacement of trust” in their source, a new discussion regarding rape and sexual violence emerged.
Recently, media attention has been focused on the horrors of sexual abuse. However, little attention has been paid to how this increased sensitivity has left falsely accused men vulnerable to having their reputations ruined, highlighted by several incidents involving prominent men. We need to be aware that false accusations do happen and we cannot make assumptions, no matter how shocking or disturbing the story may seem.
According to cnn.com, all fraternal activities at UVA were suspended until Jan. 9 following the publication of the article. Despite the realization that the story was based on lies, UVA has declined to reinstate these activities, robbing the brothers and sisters of camaraderie and stamping the men as pigs.
Students join fraternities in order to put themselves in a close-knit group at their university. They provide members with a sense of camaraderie and are integral to creating well-rounded individuals. But this cloudy rape story has defamed a near 160-year-old institution without cause.
It is also the latest instance of slander that has occurred due to the amount of sympathy shown to women who falsely claim to have been raped. The 2006 case which saw Crystal Gail Magnum falsely accuse three Duke lacrosse players of raping her at a team party, was one that left the program with a black eye. The three young men saw their reputations tainted, and the remainder of the powerhouse program’s season was cancelled.
This trend has continued with a sexual assault complaint and its prompt withdrawal against University of Florida Quarterback Treon Harris, resulting in an indefinite suspension and the damaging of Harris’ name. These events depict the ease for women to hurl empty accusations of rape at men.
Preventing sexual assault has been discussed in-depth for much time, and many new programs have been developed to address the issue. Rape prevention is important, but so is the truth. In the end, media representatives have to focus on pursuing the truth, not just the juiciest story, and the public needs to stop blindly believing anyone who comes forward with claims of sexual assault.