For the second time in as many months, the University of Virginia is being asked to reckon with the fact that predatory sexual violence—so prevalent in many parts of the world—is also present in its midst. Last month, we read that the body of Hannah Graham, assaulted and abandoned, was found hastily buried and decomposed in a wooded area a few miles from the university. In Rolling Stone recently, we read that the body of another student, identified as Jackie, had also been assaulted and abandoned. And although this young woman survived, the subsequent burial of the event and the dissolution of her life felt like something close to another lethal assault.
Inevitably, the public grief has turned its attention to the university, to the question of whether events such as these are related to the institution itself. This is because the university—and not just the one in Charlottesville—remains one of the few institutions in western culture held in high regard by both parents and children alike. It is an institution set aside for the nurture of our children, of their minds, bodies, character, and future. But universities are betraying this trust, to the point that we have come to fear for the physical safety of those children who are enrolled in them.
Part of the current scrutiny has focused on the university administration, and the role of its consumer logic and bureaucratic ethos in creating a culture where predation is both present and effectively ignored. But what of the faculty? What role do professors play in the construction of a culture in which the humanity of young women comes under repeated assaults ? Continue reading
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