Signed into law by President Richard Nixon, Title IX states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”Learn more about Title IX June 23, 1972
Women's Center Opens at UVA
Student activism and the “University of Virginia Task Force on the Status of Women” lead to the creation of the UVA Women’s Center. Two years later, the Women’s Center hires Claire Kaplan (Educ ’04) to serve as its sexual assault education coordinator—the first full-time position of its kind at a Virginia college or university.
The Women's Center August 31, 1989
“The number of students, faculty, and staff contacting the Women’s Center for cutting-edge sexual assault education and prevention training has risen dramatically, and continues to increase each day.”
The Clery Act
Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, the Clery Act requires publication of an annual security report, crime logs and statistics, and timely notifications of crimes on or near college campuses.November 8, 1990
Dear Colleague Letter
Issued by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), this letter clarifies that sexual violence is a form of harassment prohibited by Title IX and provides guidance on how schools should work to prevent and respond to these incidents.Read the full letter April 4, 2011
Office for Civil Rights Launches Investigation of UVA
OCR begins compliance review of the University’s sexual harassment and sexual assault policies and procedures. In July 2012, the OCR informed UVA of a complaint from a student, which was consolidated with the existing compliance review. The investigation remains open, and UVA is now one of more than 80 schools the OCR is investigating.June 30, 2011
Student Sexual Assault Policy Revised
After an extensive review of complaints and investigations dating back to 2005, UVA adopts its new “Policy and Procedures for Cases of Student Sexual Misconduct.” UVA is one of the first universities to revise policy based on the guidance of the Dear Colleague Letter.July 8, 2011
Violence Against Women Act
Under federal law, colleges and universities are required to report domestic violence, dating violence and stalking—expanding the crime categories already mandated by the Clery Act. Schools must also adopt certain student discipline procedures and certain institutional policies to address and prevent campus sexual violence, including training for university personnel.March 7, 2013
White House Task Force Formed
President Barack Obama establishes the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. In April, the task force completes a report called “Not Alone,” divided into three areas in which colleges are advised to direct their efforts:
- Identifying the Problem: Campus Climate Surveys
- Preventing Sexual Assault—and Engaging Men
- Effectively Responding When a Student Is Sexually Assaulted
January 22, 2014
“Sexual assault is an affront to our basic decency and humanity. And it’s about all of us—the safety of those we love most: our moms, our wives, our daughters and our sons.”
“Dialogue at UVA: Sexual Misconduct Among College Students”
UVA convenes national conference—including more than 250 representatives from colleges and universities—that examines issues related to prevention, adjudication and education.
February 10-11, 2014
“One of the most vexing problems I’ve seen since becoming a president is the growing rate of sexual misconduct on college campuses nationwide. Our intention with this conference is to launch a national discussion among higher education communities in which we examine the complexities surrounding sexual misconduct and explore ways to reduce such behavior.”
Virginia Gov. Establishes Task Force
Gov. Terry McAuliffe forms the Governor’s Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence . The task force includes subcommittees on prevention, response and law enforcement. Two representatives from UVA are included among the 30-member group.August 22, 2014
BOV Briefed on New Measures to Combat Sexual Assault
Among discussion of several initiatives is the “Not on Our Grounds” program— dedicated to ending sexual violence through awareness campaigns and prevention efforts—launched at the start of the academic year. A part of this initiative, “Hoos Got Your Back,” is a bystander awareness effort that encourages students to intervene in potentially dangerous situations.September 12, 2014
Additional Counselors Hired
UVA hires additional counseling and trauma response personnel in the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center and in UVA’s Counseling and Psychological Services.October 2014
Proposed new Student Sexual Misconduct Policy posted for public comment
Last revised by UVA in 2011, this new policy responds to legal changes since that time, including the OCR’s additional guidance on Title IX and sexual violence to all colleges and universities on April 29, 2014, and the Department of Education’s October 20, 2014, regulations implementing changes to the federal Clery Act, required by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA).
Rolling Stone magazine publishes article, “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA”
The article , now largely discredited, centers on an alleged gang rape of a UVA student, identified as Jackie, in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house (more commonly known as Phi Psi).
November 19, 2014
“I was looking for a school that was elite, a school people look up to, but also where the culture felt representative of what’s going on around the country. I wanted a school being investigated for Title IX, and on top of all that I needed people to be willing to talk with me about their experiences with sexual assault. UVA filled the bill on all fronts.”
Phi Psi Vandalized
At 2:45 a.m., police respond to reports of broken windows and graffiti on the Phi Psi house. Later that day, a letter signed by “The students who vandalized the Phi Psi house” is sent to several news organizations with a list of demands for change.
Phi Psi Voluntarily Suspends Activities
November 20, 2014
“Make no mistake, the acts depicted in the article are beyond unacceptable—they are vile and intolerable in our brotherhood, our university community and our society. We remain ready and willing to assist with the fair and swift pursuit of justice, wherever that may lead, and steadfast in our resolve to ensure that nothing like this can happen, ever, on our Grounds.”
Fraternity Social Activities Temporarily Suspended
Inter-Fraternity Council voluntarily suspends weekend social activities. Later that day, President Sullivan extends suspension through Jan. 9.
“This is a temporary, short-term action that will ultimately benefit our University and our community in the long-term, not an impulsive move to blame rape on fraternities. The temporary suspension grants our fraternity system time to develop substantive and actionable solutions for the future.”
Students Send Letter Supporting Dean Eramo
Spearheaded by a student leader of the Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition, students compile a Nov. 24 letter to President Sullivan with over 250 signatures expressing support for Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo (Col ’97, Educ ’03, ’10).November 22, 2014
Special Meeting of Board of Visitors
UVA’s governing body meets about the Rolling Stone article and adopts a zero-tolerance approach toward sexual assault. President Sullivan announces that she has asked the Charlottesville Police Department to investigate the case involving Jackie.
Virginia's Attorney General initiates investigation
At the request of the BOV, Attorney General Mark Herring (Col ’83, Grad ’87) hires the firm of O’Melveny & Myers to conduct a full and independent review of the University’s response to the report of sexual assault and violence involving Jackie in the Rolling Stone article. That review will include an evaluation of whether the University’s response was and is in compliance with the University’s stated policies and procedures, as well as with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.November 25, 2014
President Sullivan Addresses Students
During a meeting with students, Sullivan frames her remarks around several questions related to her areas of focus:
- Do we do everything possible to protect every student at UVA?
- Have we provided the proper emphasis on both supporting survivors and encouraging reporting?
- What is the role of alcohol?
- What is the role of Greek life?
- What do we do about this?
Rolling Stone Acknowledges Inaccuracies and Apologizes for Article
After a series of investigative articles by the Washington Post reveal significant problems with the reporting and accuracy of the Rolling Stone story, the magazine’s managing editor acknowledges major discrepancies in article.
“We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.”
“Over the past two weeks, our community has been more focused than ever on one of the most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today: sexual violence on college campuses,” President Sullivan says in response to Rolling Stone’s retraction. “Today’s news must not alter this focus.”
December 5, 2014
“While the details of this one case may have been misreported, this does not erase the somber truth this article brought to light: Rape is far more prevalent than we realize, and it is often misunderstood and mishandled by peers, institutions and society at large.”
Ad Hoc Group Formed
The Ad Hoc Group on University Climate and Culture meets for the first time. The group, which includes BOV members, faculty, staff, students and alumni, will deliver interim reports by March 16 and final reports by April 30 on the following three areas:
- Culture, including student behavior, Greek life, alcohol and other drug use, and student self-governance
- Prevention, including bystander training, peer education and physical safety such as lighting, camera systems and policing
- Response, including institutional survivor support, training for students and faculty, and UVA policies and issues regarding adjudication
Special Board Meeting to Address Sexual Assault
Excerpt from meeting’s opening statement by George Keith Martin (Col ’75), rector of the Board of Visitors:
“Like a neighborhood thrown into chaos by drive-by violence, our tightly knit community has experienced the full fury of drive-by journalism in the 21st century—of callous indifference to the truth and callous indifference to the consequences.
The whole story is still not clear, but it is not too soon to assess some of the damage.
- Innocent people have been hurt; some of them devastated.
- Our great University’s reputation has been unfairly tarnished.
- Our community—one characterized distinctively by honor and leadership and selfless service to others—has been cast into self-doubt.
- And great and important causes have suffered mightily as a result: the cause of sexual assault prevention and prosecution, which requires the engagement and goodwill of our whole community; and the cause of due process, which is our only sure refuge against the storms of passion and our only protection against the rush to judgment.
We are tempted to respond to these injustices with anger. But a great University does not respond in anger. Its very mission is to teach the power of truth and reason over prejudice and passion. And we need to practice what we preach.”Read the full remarks December 19, 2014
Fraternity Activities Reinstated
President Sullivan reinstates social activities at fraternities, provided the Fraternal Organization Agreement addenda are signed by each fraternity and sorority by Jan. 16.January 6, 2015
Phi Psi Cleared by Police and Reinstated by UVA
After an investigation, the Charlottesville Police Department reports no substantive basis to the allegations raised in the Rolling Stone article having occurred at Phi Psi.January 12, 2015
New Fraternal Organization Agreements Signed
Fraternities and sororities adopt new addenda to their operating agreements with the University. Created by the four student-led Greek leadership councils and others, the changes outline specific ways that safety at fraternity parties will be improved.January 16, 2015
Presidential Address to the University
“The Columbia Journalism Review placed the Rolling Stone story at the top of its list for ‘the worst journalism of 2014.’ The story unfairly maligned UVA and many members of our community,” President Sullivan says.“Perhaps the most emphatic refutation of the story’s thesis was the collective revulsion to its allegations expressed by students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni.”
January 30, 2015
“After the account of a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia was discredited, the campus could have tried to revert to the status quo. That it chose not to go back to business as usual is a credit to university officials and to students, who realized more needed to be done to improve safety. … It is noteworthy that the new rules were developed with student fraternity leaders playing an important, if not leading, role.”
Town Hall Meetings
Over a three-day period, working groups—focused on prevention, response and culture—within the University Climate and Culture ad hoc committee hold town hall meetings to engage the broader University community on issues related to sexual assault. Each working group will present its final suggestions to President Sullivan in late March.March 2–4, 2015
Charlottesville Police Department Suspends Investigation
Read the full release
“Based on the information known to investigators at this time, we find no substantive basis of fact to conclude that an incident occurred that is consistent with the facts as described in the November 19, 2014, Rolling Stone Magazine article.
The department’s investigation cannot rule out that something may have happened to ‘Jackie’ somewhere and at some time on the evening of September 28, 2012. Yet, without additional evidence we are simply unable to reach a definitive conclusion.
This investigation remains open, yet suspended in the event additional evidence should come to light.”
President Sullivan’s Response
March 23, 2015
“On behalf of the University of Virginia, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Chief Timothy Longo and the Charlottesville Police Department for their thorough investigation into the allegations described in the November 2014 article in Rolling Stone magazine. I would also like to thank the individuals who cooperated with the police investigation. The investigation confirms what federal privacy law prohibited the University from sharing last fall: that the University provided support and care to a student in need, including assistance in reporting potential criminal conduct to law enforcement. Chief Longo’s report underscores what I have known since well before the publication of the Rolling Stone article: that we at the University are committed to ensuring the health and safety of all of our students.
We cannot fulfill our mission as an institution of higher learning without providing for the welfare of our students and our community. There is important work ahead as the University continues to implement substantive reforms to improve its culture, prevent violence and respond to incidents of violence when they occur. We will continue our collaborative partnership with the Charlottesville Police Department, united by our shared commitment to fostering a culture of respect while ensuring the safety and well-being of all members of our community.”
Interim Policy on Sexual Assault and Harassment
The University’s new interim policy is much broader in scope than the previous one and addresses all aspects of reporting, assessing, investigating and resolving cases of prohibited conduct. In addition, the policy explicitly defines and prohibits sexual assault, sexual exploitation, intimate partner violence and stalking, consent and incapacitation, sexual and gender-based harassment, complicity and retaliation. The policy provides a student resource guide, expanded reporting options, resolution options, sanctions and other information.Read the new policy March 30, 2015
Columbia Journalism School indicts Rolling Stone article
The report, called “a work of journalism about a failure of journalism” details multiple points in the reporting, editing and fact-checking process during which important questions and basic tenets of journalism were ignored. At any of these points, further reporting would have changed the article dramatically, the report concludes. For its part, Rolling Stone used the report to “officially retract ‘A Rape on Campus.’”Read the full report
President Sullivan’s Response
Read Sullivan’s full statement April 5, 2015
“Rolling Stone’s story, ‘A Rape on Campus,’ did nothing to combat sexual violence, and it damaged serious efforts to address the issue. Irresponsible journalism unjustly damaged the reputations of many innocent individuals and the University of Virginia. Rolling Stone falsely accused some University of Virginia students of heinous, criminal acts, and falsely depicted others as indifferent to the suffering of their classmate. The story portrayed University staff members as manipulative and callous toward victims of sexual assault. Such false depictions reinforce the reluctance sexual assault victims already feel about reporting their experience, lest they be doubted or ignored.”
Cultural Landscape Survey
In April, UVA students will participate in a sexual assault campus climate survey that will include 27 other institutions of higher learning. “Our primary purpose in conducting this survey is to help our institutions gain a better understanding of this complex problem on their own campuses as well as nationally,” says AAU President Hunter Rawlings. “Our first priority, and theirs, is to ensure that students not only are safe but feel safe. Universities will be using their data to inform their own policies and practices regarding sexual assault.”Spring 2015