Alcohol’s role in collegiate assaults cited at University of Virginia board’s meeting
CHARLOTTESVILLE — A University of Virginia board on Tuesday honed in on alcohol as a contributing factor in sexual assaults on campus, with one member calling for more aggressively enforcing the law banning underage drinking.
Members of the Board of Visitors discussed sexual assault allegations that came out in a devastating portrait in Rolling Stone that has rocked the campus. The article described a woman’s account of a gang rape and went into detail about what it called a hidden culture of sexual violence at the school.
Board member Bobbie Kilberg said the school needed to stop underage drinking, a tall order on nearly any college campus, where drinking is a rite of passage and students under age 21 have no trouble getting alcohol.
Her suggestion met some resistance from student leaders. Tommy Reid, president of the school’s Inter-Fraternity Council, said such a ban could push drinking “underground.”
Ashley Brown, president of One Less, a sexual assault education group on campus, said that although she opted out of Greek life, “I found my alcohol elsewhere,” and expressed a similar concern about kids getting drunk in cars or concerts.
Last week’s Rolling Stone story went into detail about binge drinking on campus.
Board member L.D. Britt called excessive drinking “the fuel … We have to address that. We cannot push that under the rug. It was the fuel when I was here back in 1968. And it’s the fuel now.”
University President Teresa Sullivan has asked Charlottesville police to investigate the reported gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi house, and she has said the article contained details previously unknown to officials. At Tuesday’s meeting, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy J. Longo wouldn’t comment on the investigation but added, “I will say this: There were bystanders. There were people in that room. … I hope that those bystanders have the moral courage to come forward and help us with that investigation.”