Perhaps due to a now-notorious Rolling Stone article highlighting the school’s purported apathy towards sexual assault, fewer University of Virginia students are participating in fraternity rush this year, student newspaper The Cavalier Daily reports.
In its story, Rolling Stone included one female student’s account of her alleged gang rape at a prominent campus fraternity, which has since been called into question after major factual errors were revealed. However, students say, the article has prompted a discussion about sexual assault that is coming from an unlikely source — the fraternities.
Business Insider spoke to several UVA freshmen as they prepared to rush last week. We’ve changed their names to keep their anonymity as they navigate the school’s fraternities.
Starting his second semester at UVA, one student, Sam, told BI there’s a different feeling around campus then when he left in December. “It’s definitely different in the sense that people are expecting change,” he said, “and I feel like that change is coming.”
Sam said he became more inclined to go through rush after seeing how UVA’s fraternities and sororities reacted in the fallout of the Rolling Stone article.
“It wasn’t something where they were trying to fight back against or throw fire into the flame. They tried to do it in a way where they were getting behind the cause and show that it’s something they don’t approve of,” he said.
Other students also praised the Greek system’s quick reaction to the charges in Rolling Stone.
“Before we even got a statement from the president, the only people that took action in those first few days was the fraternity, Phi Psi,” another student, Brian, told BI.
This sentiment has remained visible in Greek life, Sam said, as he realised from speaking to older friends of his already in houses. “The fraternities are all trying to do better for the students and community as a whole,” he said.
Sam said he believes that Greeks can continue to help change attitudes on campus, which is one of the reasons he decided to participate in fraternity rush.
“The people rushing, we have an opportunity to join something that is trying to get behind this cause and be a symbol for fairness and equal treatment,” he said.
Brian agreed that the fraternities represent a major opportunity for new students to make a difference.
“I think one of the biggest things to keep in mind, if we want a change to happen, it’s big for us to become a part of the system,” he said. “By putting in more good people, we can make it better. If we go into this area of darkness, we can shed light on it.”
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