From a music professor at UVa.

The past few years have witnessed a steady stream of alleged rapes at schools with big revenue-generating sports cultures and Greek systems. Part of the supposed shock of the [Rolling Stone] article involves a sense that [UVa] as an institution is committed to high-minded ideas and taking care of our students, and that we ought to be better than this, even better than the rest of the society. If only that were true…

‘“The fraternity culture has to change, but I don’t know how it would, because the fraternity culture is such a big part of life here,” said Annalise Gill, 18, a first-year student from Texas.’

From the mouths of babes. She’s quite right. As I said in an earlier post, about places like Penn State and Florida State, when sports and fraternities and drinking rule and have long ruled, it’s hard to know how any of that would change.

Fraternities in places like these tend to be the quintessence, the culmination, of all the alcohol and athletics in the larger campus culture. At UVa, “the fraternity system is king and heavy drinking is part of the culture.”

More frighteningly, fraternities are young, tightly-knit, all-male subcultures. In many settings, young, tightly-knit, and all-male is bad news. Young, tightly-knit, and all-male adds group aggression – extreme hazing, fighting, assaulting – to the mix. “Fraternities have become more like lab experiments for the distillation of male sexual aggression” than anything else.

Some have called for UVa to close its frats permanently.

Phi Kappa Psi, like all fraternities, exists to teach bad values to developing young men. Sent off to campus to educate themselves as individuals, fraternity members instead learn to subordinate their values and plans to a collective. After a torturous and dehumanizing selection process, fraternity members are able to write a check and purchase 30 new friends; it’s not surprising that they would see sex — pour a drink, girl is yours — as similarly transactional.

… By deciding to suspend its fraternities temporarily, the University of Virginia has acknowledged that those frats cannot be implicated in any new offenses while the eyes of America are watching. It is a tacit admission that the school cannot risk, not now, another sexual assault being committed. It has decided that the easiest and most palatable way for this to happen — for UVA’s fraternity brothers not to rape — is for its fraternities to cease to exist.

So why bring them back? Shut them down and move on.

Dahlia Lithwick doesn’t weigh in on shutting or maintaining them, but she does get to the nub of things:

Fraternities are nuts.

***********************

UD doubts closing them down is really a solution. Sick and sometimes criminal initiation rituals will persist somewhere on campus at any booze and sports soaked university that ignores them. The Florida A&M marching band didn’t need a fraternity to beat a fellow student to death in a long-tolerated form of hazing.

Perhaps what makes more sense is really serious policing and surveillance of fraternities – policing and surveillance for which the fraternities would pay.

Just as many schools spend a fortune on squads of extra police for their football and basketball games (students are prone to mischief and violence both in and outside sports arenas), so fraternities should be willing to bill their current and past members for the heightened security procedures they need. Hugely wealthy Michael Bloomberg happens to be a proud and loyal member of Phi Kappa Psi; with his passionate involvement in violence reduction, he should be willing to subsidize the hiring of guards and cameras for his brothers. A million dollars a year, say, would set Bloomberg back not at all.

Would university campuses begin to look like armed camps? Yes, but university football and basketball games (plus tailgates and party/riots) already tend to look like that. And as to cameras everywhere – well, most universities already have cameras everywhere.

In the longer term, UD proposes that frat-run universities like UVa choose as their yearly campus-wide book (UD is talking about the popular One Campus One Book, or Common Read, program) Lynn Chancer’s Sadomasochism in Everyday Life, so that fraternity members can begin to think seriously about their problem, and other members of the campus community can learn enough to at least see the brothers coming.

“If we have learned anything with the Sandusky scandal at Penn State, we have learned that those with expertise in coaching or teaching or research or in university administration are often not equipped to handle the intricacies of a criminal investigation. We have learned that facing an issue head on, regardless of the potential for negative publicity, and letting the proper authorities handle it, will protect both the individuals and the university.”

A Penn State person shares her scandal-wisdom with UVa.

I’m fine with this except for the writer’s suggestion that coaches, of all people, are unequipped to handle criminal investigations.

If university football coaches aren’t equipped to handle criminal investigations, who is?

Doesn’t experience count for anything?

“The deeper you read into the story, the more clear it is that the University of Virginia’s administration has been absolutely and disgustingly derelict for decades, protecting the reputation of the institution at all costs.”

More commentary on “rapey” (new one on me) University of Virginia, in The American Conservative, in which the author quotes a UVa sociologist —

UVA may be to fraternities what Boston was to the Catholic Church.

— and then goes on to elaborate (he covered the church scandal) the ways in which this analogy is correct.

The first case I wrote about, back in 2001, involved an immigrant teenager who was passed around priests in a Bronx parish. When the boy’s father learned what happened, he went to see an auxiliary bishop. According to the victim’s lawyer, the auxiliary bishop allegedly pulled out a checkbook and offered a payout in exchange for the father signing a paper giving the Archdiocese of New York’s attorneys the right to handle his case. The father may have been a laborer and an immigrant, but he knew a scam when he saw it. He left and hired his own lawyer.

And here we see the University of Virginia following a similar script.

He means your basic cover up / keep it in-house M.O.

I don’t understand the attraction of college Greek life… Too rapey. I do not want my kids, as college students, to be subject to rape, to participate in rape, or to be in a position in which they are pressured to prove their loyalty to their fraternity, their friends, and their university by staying silent about rape.

**********************

Overheard from a recent campus tour guide.

‘Near our Jefferson statue all drapey
Live our buck naked frat boys all rapey.
The contrast is striking
And quite to the liking
Of writers from Reuters to AP.’

Terrific summary of events so far at the school some have taken to calling…

… UVrApe. It’s by UD’s friend, Scott Jaschik, at Inside Higher Ed.

There’s so much rape on college campuses, it can get very difficult to keep up with all of the stories.

In this article, Mother Jones just singles out the high-profile football-related rape stories over the last few decades. UD‘s favorites are

Louisiana State University, 1998: Star running back Cecil Collins was dismissed from the team after being accused of two sexual assaults in two weeks (the first was of a minor). He was sentenced to probation. That didn’t stop another football program, McNeese State, from offering him a full scholarship, or the Miami Dolphins from drafting him. “Charming and likable, he has, nonetheless, seen his collegiate football career derailed by sexual assault charges and failed drug tests,” the Sun-Sentinel reported in 1999. His career ended in 2001, when he was convicted of breaking into a woman’s home to watch her sleep.

and

Arizona State University, 2004: A female student working as a tutor for a summer program for football students sent an email to her supervisors about a freshman recruit: “I don’t want to get raped in college and that is what Darnel [Henderson] makes me feel like when he is around me.” By the end of the summer, ESPN reported, Henderson had been accused of sexually assaulting women in his dorm and exposing himself to female staffers. When confronted, his response was to tell a staff member that he felt he had to “show [women] their place.” The university’s response was to bow to head coach Dirk Koetter’s request that Henderson keep his scholarship. When Henderson was accused of rape by a different student a year later, ASU police mysteriously waited three weeks to interview him despite deciding internally that Henderson was probably guilty. A university administrator accompanied Henderson to his meeting with investigators, and when the case was submitted to Maricopa County, the district attorney declined to pursue the case. ASU administrators, meanwhile, tried to destroy incriminating evidence — like the fearful email. Koetter, who sought to get Henderson a scholarship to another top-tier college football program, was fired two years later because he couldn’t consistently beat top-25 opponents.

As the University of Virginia gang-rape story rages, UD will try to put it in context by doing this: Reminding you.

*****************

Of course the clever Rolling Stone writer chose UVa for her spell-binding story (she could have chosen almost any university) because of the irony. Schools like LSU (“Went in dumb/Come out dumb too.”) lack, er, valence when the lads go a-raping. You go after UVa because it’s convinced itself and everyone else it’s better than that.

******************

By the way: Don’t tell me you can’t do anything with an English major.

As a University of Pennsylvania undergraduate, [Susan Rubin] Erdely discovered her passion for magazine writing while working at 34th Street, the magazine of the student-run Daily Pennsylvanian. She soon dropped her pre-med studies, graduated in 1994 with a degree in English…

You can change the world with an English major. You can use it to learn how to write like Sabrina Rubin Erdely. From her opening paragraphs:

She remembers the men’s heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.

As the last man sank onto her, Jackie was startled to recognize him: He attended her tiny anthropology discussion group. He looked like he was going to cry or puke as he told the crowd he couldn’t get it up. “Pussy!” the other men jeered. “What, she’s not hot enough for you?” Then they egged him on: “Don’t you want to be a brother?” “We all had to do it, so you do, too.” Someone handed her classmate a beer bottle. Jackie stared at the young man, silently begging him not to go through with it. And as he shoved the bottle into her, Jackie fell into a stupor, mentally untethering from the brutal tableau, her mind leaving behind the bleeding body under assault on the floor.

You think this article would have caught fire the way it has, would have left thousands of people – in the words of the UVa faculty – “heartbroken and enraged” if its author didn’t know not just which school to choose but how to write?

She knew to start not with statistics and histories, and not with outrage and disbelief, but right in the thick of the immediacy of the attack: Present tense for Jackie’s ongoing recall (“she remembers”), past for the sober precision of her narration, with the author adding nothing by way of emotion. With this sort of material, you park yourself in neutral and let the tale tell itself. This is what you learn if you study the greats – Orwell, Didion, Capote, Vidal.

You see how she’s opted against commas and semi-colons in the first sentence, in order to let the violent and confusing rush of the events re-present themselves? You see how she’s learned alliteration and assonance (last man sank) along the way, so that our inner ear enters into her poetic rhythm and keeps going?

She remembers the men’s heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.

Note also the repetition of remembers, which not only gives the recitation the feel of a mournful litany, but is psychologically true to the lifelong repetition-compulsion to which the rapists have sentenced their hazing object. She’ll circle around these moments forever. Note also that this sentence, with its close knowledge and recall of the rapists’ intimate and particular bodies, says more about the persuasiveness of her account than any lie detector could. It is viscerally compelling.

Erdely has also learned the importance of the powerfully telling detail: her tiny anthropology discussion group. Her tiny anthropology discussion group! Oh right, this is a university! Small serious select groups of young intellectuals gathering to talk about higher things – like about the way human beings act in groups! Well, she’s in a small group right now, and one of those human rituals is happening right in front of her. (“The men are on their own ‘turf,’ whether it be a part of a park, a shack, or a fraternity house. The identity of the woman is irrelevant. Anyone who happens to be at or near the premises will suffice. All the men drink a great deal of liquor. Then, in the presence of the entire group, each has sex in turn with the female. … While individually they probably would not engage in such brutal or degrading conduct, when reinforced by their companions they exhibit no sense of what most men and women consider decency or compassion.”) Come to UVa and don’t just book-learn about tribes! Our opportunities for experiential learning put you right in the middle of the lord of the flies.

And look at the subtleties you’re learning! You’re learning the masochistic anhedonia that underlies happyhappy male bonding, aren’t you? (“cry or puke”… “we all had to do it…”) You could read The Berlin Stories, say, if you wanted, at the tender age of eighteen, to understand this vicious mix… Or you could save time and visit one of our frats.

And the word tiny. The delicacy of that little word almost unbearably conveys the small hopefulness, the fresh modest eagerness, of this clueless, avid freshman from rural Virginia suddenly at the big fancy school full of handsome athletic older men in frats who wanted her! Wanted to go out with her!

Erdely ends the account, and this paragraph, with a riot of assonance/alliteration:

mentally untethering from the brutal tableau, her mind leaving behind the bleeding body under assault on the floor

A bit over the top stylistically? Maybe. If this had been Didion or Capote or Orwell they might have edited it, like this:

mentally untethering from the tableau, leaving behind the bleeding body on the floor

But when things are over-the-top lurid, your prose needs to rise to it, and Erdely has held her heavy verbal weaponry for the very last part of the account.

Looking more and more like West Virginia University, the University of Virginia now…

… also suspends all fraternities.

But what are you going to do? Fraternities are designed for drinking and fucking. Riots and rapes are the totally unsurprising results.

Forget the routine sado-masochistic theater of hazing. That’s a trifle here.

But it’s your culture. If you’re UVa or WVU or Dartmouth or Arizona or whatever, it’s who you are. You won’t be able to suspend them for long.

Unconvinced? Look at the way Florida State and Penn State have responded, en masse, to their outrageous sports scandals. Look at entire local cultures, really, composed of journalists and police and lawyers and trustees and alumni designed to let sports-related miscreants do whatever they want to do. Penn State students rioted when their rapist-enabling coach was let go. Florida State students blocked the latest New York Times account of their foul football team. There’s nothing to be done with such places. Really nothing, beyond what people have done with notorious rape campuses like the University of Montana. They think twice about sending their daughters there.

Nothing to be done except this.

All sorts of bad and sad news out of the University of Virginia.

This school has been knocked around very badly in the last few years: the lacrosse murder, the attempted trustee takeover. It is currently dealing with a number of suicides, the murder of Hannah Graham, the Rolling Stone article about a gang-raping fraternity there, and, most recently, a violent response to that article:

An anonymous letter submitted to various news organizations claims responsibility for the vandalism of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house which occurred early Thursday morning.

The letter was submitted via email shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday by “John Doe” at the email address strawberryqueen1717@gmail.com.

The vandalism came as a response to a Rolling Stone article published online Wednesday which detailed an instance of gang rape which allegedly occurred at the fraternity house in Sept. 2012.

This is an insane amount, all at once, for any university administration to deal with; and there’s plenty of evidence that UVa’s administration has been, historically, denialist, and, it seems, only marginally competent.

By the way, UD wants to suggest that group attacks on fraternity buildings should not surprise us. Indeed we should probably prepare for more.

“While none of the major predatory for-profit college companies — University of Phoenix, EDMC, Corinthian, Kaplan, CEC, etc. — have a frontman as publicly odious as Donald Trump, their abuses and harms go much deeper than those of Trump University.”

Predatory, odious, our next president, and currently dealing with his namesake university being dragged through the mud, first by the New York Attorney General, and now by a judge:

This week, a judge found Donald Trump liable for operating a get-rich-quick school, the erstwhile Trump University, without a license. The case was originally brought against Trump by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, which, according to the Daily News, alleged that Trump University had “ripped off 5,000 students nationwide by promising to make them rich when instead they were steered into costly and mostly useless seminars.”

While he’s already been held liable for the university’s operation, Trump will now go to trial to see if he’s also liable for defrauding the students.

Can’t wait for the trial.

“Keene State Turns It Into Insanity.”

A townsperson’s comment on this year’s local Pumpkin Fest – a traditional event in the small town of Keene New Hampshire, where residents display carved pumpkins and celebrate the beautiful New England autumn together – could also stand as the motto of Keene State University, a very dangerous American location whose rioting students turn everything – including the Keene New Hampshire Pumpkin Fest – into insanity.

Keene State enjoyed a spot of fame when a man who barely survived teaching journalism there for a few years wrote, post-traumatically, The Five-Year Party: How Colleges Have Given Up on Educating Your Child and What You Can Do About It. Last weekend’s riot – pretty much unsurpassed, in the annals of college riots, for violence, injury, and destruction – can have surprised no one who, like UD, read Craig Brandon’s account of the gruesome brew that is Keene State. His book of course reviews the long history of student riots there. A sample:

[T]here were dangerous riots when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007 [Note that Keene State shares with our most riot-torn campuses the practice of rioting when happy and rioting when sad]. Nearly a thousand students, about one out of five students at the college, started fires, broke windows, turned over cars, threw rocks and bricks at police, and threatened to go on a rampage through the middle of town until they were turned back by dozens of city and state police [Dozens, hah. Lots more than that – SWAT, tear gas, the works – at the Keene State Pumpkin Riot.] who had been put on active duty to prevent the riot.

Brandon’s main point about Keene and other tuition-starved universities is that the school will do anything to keep bodies in rooms (“[I]t was common practice to stack freshmen into [dorm] rooms like cordwood, with as many as four students assigned to a room designed for two. Why? So many freshmen leave the school during their first year – usually at least 25 percent – that colleges overstuff them in the fall to avoid having empty rooms in the spring.”). This means giving in to students on all matters – academic, recreational – and never making them actually study or anything (“I left my teaching position in 2007, right after the dean threatened to put me on probation unless I made my classes more student-friendly by removing grammar from my lesson plans and showing more movies.”). When you add social media’s ability to draw rioters from all over the state to an already large concentration of drunken louts, you turn everything into insanity.

And oh how “disheartened” Keene’s president is by this shocking unprecedented student riot. Disheartened, re-disheartened, re-re-disheartened, re-re-re-disheartened… The sorrowful lot of the university president.

********************

Oh yeah, UD? And what’s Keene State supposed to do?

There’s nothing it can do. The state will never close the place. As fewer and fewer students attend, the administration will make its lout-friendly atmosphere even more lout-friendly.

But God knows there’s something its local terrified populace can do. Move.

*************************

Let’s end this year’s account of life at Keene State with a comment from another townsperson:

Lillian Savage brought her kids to the Pumpkin Festival on Saturday.

“All you could see was smoke, lots of screaming, lots of drunken rage really,” she said. “I have been coming here since I was a kid and I loved it and now this. I will never come back – ever.”

***********************

UPDATE: You can’t buy this kind of publicity.

“The worst is not, So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.'”

Well, we can apparently say that these are the worst – the worst American colleges. UD has heard of very few of them, which isn’t surprising. The worst America colleges tend to fly under the radar – they’re often small, provincial, barely accredited year after year.

UD checked out the one Maryland school on the list (UD lives in Maryland) and it does in fact seem about to lose its accreditation.

Court records show the Internal Revenue Service filed three federal tax liens totaling about $5 million against the college in January and February.

Horrible schools are always losing students. Eventually they just run out of tuition money.

It might be a famous statement, but UD hadn’t run across it.

Robert Maynard Hutchins, founder of the University of Chicago, … famously said: “The present primacy of public relations in the management of universities, the view that they must ingratiate themselves with the public, and in particular with the most wealthy and influential portions of it, the doctrine that a university may properly frame its policies in order to get money and that it may properly teach or study whatever it can get financed — these notions are ruinous to a university in any rational conception of it.”

She found it in a solid presentation of the Steven Salaita debacle at the University of Illinois.

A Scroll Through Architectural Digest’s Best New University Buildings.

Here they are. UD comments on each one.

The writer starts with a new building at Yale, and there’s a reason he starts with this project. It’s the best. By far. Most of the others are quite bad, but the Edward P. Evans Hall, with its soft light ‘fifties modernism footprint is simply a pretty, non-jarring, non-aggressive addition to the campus.

Like a lot of contemporary buildings, its interior is so insanely open and abstract that things like privacy and the human specific seem totally absent. And while UD herself might not be keen on the tendency away from autonomy and individuality, she acknowledges that – especially in a business building – an architect has to reflect the digitized groupworld of the people who inhabit the construction. Evans Hall’s walls feature massive childish Sol LeWitt wall art, reflecting the thin bright bold everything-supersized world of postmodern hedgies (Yale has plenty of gothic architecture and brooding squinting portraiture for its humanities division).

Lee Hall at Clemson (AD’s #8), for its school of architecture, is also excellent. It mirrors the mini-Dulles-Airport, modestly soaring, white-sail-like, radically open floor plan, all-windows, exteriorized technology (see the Pompidou Center) thing the Yale building’s doing – and it does all of this well. And #9, the Reid Building, is equally fine, in the same almost-all-white, radically open, large masses luminescently lit way as Lee and Evans (a critic of the building notes that “Doors are in notably short supply, the whole interior presenting a Piranesi-like fluidity.”). You could argue that Reid is out of keeping with the bricky gloom of its Scottish street, but there’s nothing wrong with having a lighthouse to perk things up.

Eh, okay, so that’s the good stuff. The bad buildings all have stuff in common, just as the good buildings do. Mainly the bad stuff features pointless gigantic dead abstraction (see #4, which clearly has no context at all – I don’t see anything around it – and therefore randomly sprouts, a dying mushroom and a red oxygen canister trying to pump life back into it via an obscure connecting unit); yet more abstract gigantism plus deadly overhangs (#2; #7); desperate chaotic wedging in (#3); overhangs, gigantic abstraction, and dramatic Spiderman-like pointless design features (#5); and, finally, runty off-kilter deconstructed blah with overhangs (#6).

“…and that the first couple tried to help Mr. Williams set up scientific studies of a Star Scientific dietary supplement, Anatabloc, at Virginia’s public universities, to increase its credibility with investors and consumers.”

Sideshow Bob and the Missus are now in the spotlight, and the only thing of interest here at University Diaries is their effort to“deep south” Virginia’s public universities.

I guess there’s a reason we differentiate deep and … shallow? south. Apparently up in these parts (‘thesdan UD lives not far from Northern Virginia) you can’t get schools like the University of Virginia to run governor-mandated trials on your laetrile.

Speaking of deep and parts… You may know Sideshow Bob by his former name: Governor Vaginal Probe…

Apple Turnover

Clueless academic bastion of one of America’s most corrupt and incompetent outposts, the University of Hawaii is constantly losing presidents, chancellors, and – most of all – money.

Tom Apple, chancellor of the flagship campus, is now fired after two years of a five-year contract, so buying out those last three years will represent yet more pointless expenditure.

And when it comes to pointless expenditure, only the public university systems of Hawaii’s mentally challenged sister states – Nevada, New Mexico, and Alaska – compete. Put hawaii in my search engine for all the gruesome details of this truly comatose institution.

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