You should see what happens on grounds if you voice the opinion that people believe in the rape allegations too easily and without solid evidence. Truly a shitshow.
For the record, all the evidence I've seen points towards the claim that Jackie underwent a sexual trauma or assault at some time while she was at UVA, so I genuinely feel sorry for her. What sucks is that Erderly completely took advantage of her to write a sensationalistic (and initially quite succesful) story. What sucks the most, though, is that there was a terrifying case of groupthink on grounds when this happened. The day that the article was released, almost every student I know had read the story by lunchtime. Word passed around on social media, in class, and at the dining halls, and for the next month there was a somewhat implicit focus throughout the student body on sexual assault and how to reign fraternities in, completely forgetting to ask the question of have we verified this yet? I for one remember how quickly I accepted the article as probably being true, with little critical thought about its validity and simply shaking my head at how screwed up people could be. After all, I was just busy trying to finish the article and drink my coffee before getting to class, so it was a bit of a passing concern for me. That seemed to be true of most of us.
When the inconsistencies started coming out a month later, shit hit the fan. I'm not in a fraternity, but my apartment-mates were, and we realized we had missed something so completely obvious; there is no pledging in the fall semester. Erderly's story had portrayed a ritual which was done to initiate or haze pledges, but the alleged party had taken place in the fall. Delayed rush at UVA means rush happens in Spring, and all the pledges are initiated before summer break. It was a somewhat trivial thing to miss in the big picture, but what I want to point out is this; in an apartment of four students, where two of them had gone through the pledging process, we had all glazed over that fact. If we really thought about it, the majority of people at the school had really just glanced over the article, me included, and gone on with our lives, kind of taking its validity for granted.
Since then, my close friends and I always remind ourselves to never believe in guilt until it's proven, even lackadaisically. I still sympathize with Jackie, and I think anyone who seeks help for an alleged sexual assault should indeed be helped. But when it comes to determining guilt and pointing fingers at supposed perpetrators, that's when we need to draw the line and make sure we seriously examine the facts and the evidence. Unfortunately, I feel my opinion is not so widely shared - when it comes to rape allegations, many think that the victim should be favored, and the alleged perpetrator is viewed as guilty, even if it's not explicitly stated. That's how our sexual misconduct board acts too - as I understand, it operates on a standard of a preponderance of the evidence, and the board's practices are not well known since all trials are held in secret in order to refrain from harming the victim any further. Oddly enough, The Board has never expelled a student - only handed out suspensions and lesser punishments. I am told this is because expulsions would be harder to defend if the expelled student took the case to actual court, but this is just a rumor that I can't substantiate.
I've always been of the opinion that the greatest injustice in the world is punishing an innocent person, far worse than letting a guilty man walk free. I hope that others come to view sexual assault the same way. But who knows, maybe I'm the crazy one.