8 Campus Sexual Assault Articles You Should Read Instead Of Now-Retracted "A Rape On Campus"

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - DECEMBER 6: The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house is seen on the University of Virginia campus on December 6, 2014 in Charlottesville, Virginia. On Friday, Rolling Stone magazine issued an apology for discrepencies that were published in an article regarding the alleged gang rape of a University of Virginia student by members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
Source: Jay Paul/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Sunday night, after a thorough investigation by Columbia University's journalism school, Rolling Stone retracted its "A Rape On Campus" exposé on an alleged gang rape at UVA — but the issue at hand cannot be retracted quite as simply. Sexual assault on campus and elsewhere remains a grievous problem in the United States, and that's exactly what Sabrina Rubin Erdely's story was trying to shed light on. Instead, it threw the focus on how rape can be egregiously misreported, which does little to create a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. Now that it's been discredited, here are some equally in-depth, but verified, articles on sexual assault you should be reading instead.

Columbia University's 13,000-word report of the editorial process behind "A Rape on Campus" found that Erdely and her editors had failed to follow "basic, even routine journalistic practice" at every stage of reporting and writing, according to the report. For example, Erdely did not make enough of an effort to contact Jackie's friends or the accused Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members to get their side of the story, nor did she track down enough information to corroborate Jackie's allegations.

To give Erdely's story some perspective, Columbia's report did mention a couple articles and reporters that have investigated sexual assault in a more journalistically sound way, where every party gave their side of the story and no detail was left unturned. Now that Rolling Stone has retracted "A Rape on Campus," these are the articles you should be reading instead.

The Center For Public Integrity

According to Columbia's report, in 2009, the Center For Public Integrity began exposing campuses' deficiencies with reporting sexual assault, from inexperienced administration to too-lenient punishments that allowed repeat offenders to continue attending class while victims went into hiding. During her investigation, reporter Kristen Lombardi was able to strike an appropriate balance with her subjects, according to the report, reassuring them that she believed them, but that she was obligated to obtain as much information as possible to verify their story, including accounts from the accused. If a subject did not agree with that process, Lombardi would not rely on that individual.

Some notable articles by Lombardi and the Center's reporting staff include "Sexual Assault on Campus Shrouded in Secrecy," "Campus Sexual Assault Statistics Don't Add Up," "Barriers Curb Reporting on Campus Sexual Assault," and "'Undetected Rapists' on Campus: A Troubling Plague of Repeat Offenders."

Eventually, the Center For Public Integrity's articles prompted President Obama to enforce more stringent policies on college campuses.  

The New York Times' Walt Bogdanich

Columbia's report also mentions the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Walt Bogdanich, who has spent the past two years reporting sexual assault on campuses. For his pieces, he makes sure to corroborate his subjects' allegations down to the last detail, from hospital records to 911 calls to texts and even security footage. But at the end of the day, Bogdanich realizes that it's not the journalist's job to solve the case. He told Columbia:

The real value of what we do as journalists is analyzing the response of the institutions to the accusation.
Some of his sexual assault pieces that deal with this exact issue, and that everyone should absolutely read, include "Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn't," "A Star Player Accused, and a Flawed Rape Investigation," and "Support for a College Student Grows After a Rape Complaint Is Dismissed."

"Rape on the Campus"

In a similarly titled article, author Zoe Heller, who wrote Notes on a Scandal and contributes for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, also looked at the flaws, factors, and circumstances surrounding reporting rape on campus. For her piece in The New York Review of Books, "Rape on the Campus," Heller delves even further into the complexities plaguing this process, which she claims go far beyond purely sexist prejudice. In the article, she cites federal laws like Title IX, individual states' "Yes Means Yes" laws, and policies and cases from a range of universities, including Harvard and Columbia.

Images: Getty Images (3)


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