One UVA Student's Response to Rape Culture and the Rolling Stone Article

*Photo from Rolling Stone

*Photo from Rolling Stone

At InterVarsity NYCUP, we exist to develop leaders with the character and capacity to change the world. We want to change the world because it's not the way that God intended it to be! The world is broken and God has invited us to enter into the darkness with His light. The LoGOFF Movement gives practical steps to engage with injustice and Jessica Mendez, a 4th-year on the grounds at UVA is a shining example of that. Here is her response to the article in Rolling Stone.

"It was hard to read. It was even harder to understand. And then still harder to digest. I sat at my kitchen table, bundled up on a blistery November morning, and read Rolling Stone’s article entitled “Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVa”. I read the horrifying accounts of at least 5 women raped at UVa, eerily entwined with the infamous Rugby Road fight song. I kept scrolling and scrolling through Sabrina Erdely’s journalism depicting what is too often the reality for college-aged women in America. I cried as “Jackie’s” story unfolded and as the ominous facts slapped me in the face. I am a fourth year at the University of Virginia and I have enjoyed my time at this institution, truly. I have checked off a significant portion of the “115 Things To Do Before You Graduate” list and visited many local Charlottesville establishments. I felt the support of community as I’ve transitioned through each year. I  boasted to family and friends outside the University how much I love “Mr. Jefferson’s university”. But I must admit, I am increasingly disillusioned by the culture at UVa as well. I felt the never-ending pressure to excel in school and social life. In my last year at UVa I feel mostly defeated by this university – I’m burnt out and exhausted.

Jesus, truly by his strength alone, will guide me through one last semester in the “Academical Village”. I always heard mumbling about fraternity parties and the do and don’ts of party-goers. If there are rumors that fraternities roofie girls’ drinks, then I was not naïve enough to think no sexual assault happened. I’ve known several girls to be threatened at parties and elsewhere on grounds during my time here. But until I read the Rolling Stone article, I had no idea such violence as gang rape was happening behind the thick doors of fraternities at UVa. I tried to understand what that meant for UVa, but, to be honest, I’m not sure I know exactly. For me, it means realizing that, in direct contrast to what American society and media would have me believe, white, wealthy males are the perpetrators of gross misconduct and crimes against humanity at UVa. For me, it seems to mean that both women and men at UVa are struggling and stuck in cycles of injustice that result in abhorrent incidents. Women are the victims of these brutal crimes and men are chained in bondage to social status. My mind begged for an answer, a solution to this perplexing reality. But you see, there is not a simple answer.

There aren’t adequate words for me, a woman fortunate enough to never be threatened by sexual violence, to say to those who have experienced such pain. You and I, we, live in a world that is broken with people that are broken. And the only adequate response I can imagine, at least for now, is to pray. To lift up our sorrows and laments to God, the one who is full and love and light in the darkness. The only adequate response I can think of, at least for now, is to pause and dedicate time to let sorrow and anger abide in our minds and spirits. Then take that sorrow and anger to God, for He is one that knows deep sorrow and righteous anger and can guide His children to respond out of His justice, in His name.

For readers of my response please know I am one person; my thoughts reflect one voice among many at UVa so please take some time and read other responses to this article. I’ve included a link to one I find particularly helpful (and no it is not Teresa Sullivan’s response mass emailed to students, faculty, parents, and alumni). Also please lift up our community in prayer: pray for Jesus to come; for women and men to speak up and speak out on issues such as rape, gender inequality, and women’s empowerment; for the [thriving] Christian community at UVa to respond with love and out of God’s love for others (both victims and perpetrators). I do not know the needs of other colleges around the country, but I would venture they are similar to UVa’s needs so please be in prayer for the safety of college campuses across the nation and globe. Lastly, for those interested (everyone should be interested), I’ve added a list of scriptures to read over.

Psalm 10:12

Psalm 44:23-26

Psalm 90

Hebrews 6:19-20

1 John 5:20

Isaiah 1:17

Romans 12:17-19

Acts 4:23-31

Deuteronomy 10:17-19

Jeremiah 29:11-1