Is UVA Rape Story True?

This is an important follow on to the Rolling Stone story about rape at UVA, raising questions about the sourcing and trustworthiness of the initial account. A Reason story asked whether the story is a hoax, invoking the Duke Lacrosse scandal that turned out to be the Durham District Attorney Scandal.

I don’t have the answers to these questions.

My primary interest in the story was to focus on the emerging standards at Duke University for adjudicating sexual assault (and apparent lack of understanding of same by undergrads), that were put into place well before this story about UVA. My bottom line is that I think that it is legitimate for a University to set policies about sexual assault that would be carried out when a District Attorney decided not to bring a case. As an aside, if a Duke undergrad is charged with a felony, they are suspended from school until the case is decided.

I got a thoughtful email from a Faculty member at UVA in response to my posts, a part of which is listed below:

 What has not been discussed (and was not in your blog) is the concept that the problem of sexual assault goes beyond student populations; what about staff and faculty?  The events described by students are abhorrent and frightening.  I wholeheartedly agree and support your comments and all of the UVA actions related to the community; I also believe the reviews and concerns should extend beyond the the student population.  If this is a culture-based issue then sexual assault problems likely extended to faculty and staff and as such policies should encompass all students, staff and faculty as potential victims and as responders (protectors).

This is a good point. The Duke Community Standard applies to Undergrads only. Graduate students are governed by their school, with some differences across schools. The Faculty are governed by the Faculty Handbook, and of course Duke University has sexual harassment policies. I haven’t looked closely across all of these documents, but in addition to adding the process concerns I noted in my past post, you could add consistency concerns across the differing governing policies at Duke. I will look into this a bit more and blog about it over the next few weeks.

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute), and Chair of the Academic Council at Duke University . I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy. My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

One Response to Is UVA Rape Story True?

  1. Pingback: More on Sexual Assault on Campus | freeforall

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