Rolling Stone magazine issued an apology earlier this month for publishing a false report in which a student at the University of Virginia claimed she was gang raped by members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. After further investigation on this case, it was found the article was a journalistic failure. The alleged victim appeared unreliable, yet the reporter and editors failed to verify the details, resulting in a national controversy.
In order to remain sympathetic to the presumably traumatized victim, the author of the piece took the “victim’s” fabricated story as the whole truth and neglected to search for additional details and accounts from those allegedly involved in the story.
“Accusations of rape should never be taken lightly,” said Kate Dalman, a junior communication and media studies major. “The fact that an extremely popular magazine published such accusations without knowing the whole truth is disgusting.”
Despite retracting the article and apologizing for the misinformation spread, the once-esteemed magazine severely compromised their journalistic integrity.
Rolling Stone was disoriented and disappointed by their failure to accurately represent the facts. In their attempts to regain their credibility, they hired the Dean from the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, to issue a report detailing the mistakes they made in failing to report the truth.
“A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” was published on Nov. 19, 2014, striking up much controversy for the college campus as well as its Greek community. The fear for similar incidents spread all over the country, making rape and sexual assaults on college campuses national headlines.
Members of the Greek community at Sonoma State fear they are gaining a negative reputation as a result of other chapters engaging in inappropriate and shameful behaviors.
“We try to avoid that image by being the people we are, the events we host, and how we are when we host events,” said Trevor Hilbert, a junior and a member of Phi Delta Theta.
He said those things don’t happen in his fraternity because their recruitment process is long and considerably grueling in order to truly find out who potential members are and avoid recruiting those who may contribute to an unfavorable image.
Dalman is a member of Gamma Phi Beta and said those that are affiliated with the Greek community take the safety and well being of others very seriously and that she has never felt unsafe or threatened during any Greek events. They wish to dispel the notion that they engage in harmful behaviors by volunteering their time out in the surrounding communities and advocating for important causes.
“All of our goals as a Greek community are to be a part of something bigger by donating to our philanthropies and influencing people in positive ways,” Dalman said.
Rape and sexual assault cases should never be ignored. This means it’s crucial that they be reported should those cases unfortunately occur; it also means they should never be stories concocted in order to enact some sort of ineffable revenge. People’s reputations are destroyed in addition to the organizations they serve.
Sergeant Clarence Jones of the Sonoma State Police Services encourages victims to report their cases.
“We want to get them cared for, be supportive of them, and help them through the process,” Jones said.
Police Services also provides crime prevention training throughout the year and hopes to provide self defense classes for anyone interested in attending.
The university is hosting two more events this week as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “Bro Code” will be in Ives 101 from 7-9 p.m. today. On Wednesday, there’s a film viewing and discussion on “The Hunting Ground.” This will take place from 5-7 p.m. in Ballrooms B and C of the Student Center.