Post originally seen on Students Advocating for Students.
It has certainly been a rough start to the academic year for the University of Richmond. To begin with, since 2014, the university has been under investigation by the federal government for possible Title IX violations. To make matters even worse for the university, two women, CC Carreras and Whitney Ralston, have publicly criticized UR for its handling of sexual assault cases within the span of a mere week. Needless to say, all eyes are on UR to see how it will respond to the unfavorable position it has found itself in. Sadly, this position has recently gotten much worse.
Last week, UR’s chapter of Kappa Alpha was suspended by its national headquarters, and the university suspended all chapter activities pending a thorough investigation of a reported incident. According to The Collegian, a member of the school’s Kappa Alpha Order sent an email to over 95 students last Friday night. The text of the email contained the following statements: “Today is the day boys. Lodge season has finally arrived. We just wanted to send out a reminder that our theme for the night is ameriKA. Roll through in your best red, white, and blue (or be naked for all I care, just make sure your ass makes it out tonight)…we’re looking forward to watching that lodge virginity be gobbled up for all ya’ll…If you haven’t started drinking already, catch up. Tonight’s the type of night that makes fathers afraid to send their daughters away to school.”
Shortly after The Collegian inquired about Richmond’s position on this email, administrators from the university issued the following statement: “The e-mail contained grossly offensive language and suggestions of behavior inconsistent with our policies concerning Greek life and with the caring nature of our campus community. As a result, the University has suspended all chapter operations, activities, and events pending a thorough investigation…”
While undoubtedly provocative, the email contained no threatening language by a reasonably objective person’s standards. Of course the line “tonight’s the type of night that makes fathers afraid to send their daughters away to school,” can be taken out of context and be viewed as a form of intimidating rhetoric, however such an interpretation would not be properly indicative of the sentiments expressed here. Simply saying father’s would be ashamed of activities going on at the event is not a promotion to sexually assault female partygoers. There are many activities done in a consensual fashion at these types of events that would equally embarrass one’s parents. If however, UR is only concerned with the clear pressure to drink being brought upon underage students, then the school would have a legitimate grievance. This simply does not seem to be the case though, as the school’s response first and foremost expresses displeasure with the emails use of “offensive language.”
With any developing story, we all must save our conclusions until further information reveals itself. One thing, however, is certain. These students are not being investigated in a vacuum. The amount of federal, public, and on-campus pressure for Richmond to take a firm stance against the perceived climate of sexual assault on their campus is immense enough for a betting man to believe that the students who sent this email may become casualties in the school’s quest to rehabilitate its image. Only time will tell how this case plays out.