Rolling Stone: A Rumpus Roundup

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Last month, Rolling Stone ran an article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely detailing the gang-rape and attempted coverup of a student at the University of Virginia known as “Jackie.” .

Today, Rolling Stone issued an apology.

Editors at the magazine did not contact the men Jackie accused of rape. Part of the problem was the fear of losing Jackie, who had asked not to confront her attackers. And there seems to be a good deal of truth behind Jackie’s story, and Erdely spent months talking with Jackie, her friends, and university officials.

Adding to the story’s verisimilitude is the ongoing rape culture on college campuses nationwide. Emma Sulkowicz, for instance, has been carrying a mattress around Columbia University’s campus after the school failed to act. Or, for instance, two students were just booted out of a Princeton University fraternity (known on campus as “eating clubs,” to distinguish them from their lower-class sibling institutions) for distributing photos of a woman performing oral sex at their frat house—sorry—their eating club.

The list of incidents like these could continue, indefinitely, since 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted on a college campus.

Rolling Stone painted a picture of a university trying to cover up its own rape culture. And again, that’s a national problem—universities meant to protect their students are protecting the rapists, not the victims. Like Columbia University, who fined a student group $1,500 for protesting that the university hadn’t done enough following rape allegations.

However, it appears that the case at the University of Virginia might not be as clear cut as Rolling Stone described it. The Washington Post began finding some discrepancies between what Jackie told Rolling Stone and the claims of other people involved, namely the fraternity.

Those discrepancies are what Rolling Stone is acknowledging; the story might have required greater journalistic rigor.


Ian MacAllen is the Rumpus Deputy Editor and founder of English Kills Review an online literary magazine focused on books, authors, and New York City. His writing has appeared in Little Fiction, Vol 1 Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, Chicago Review of Books, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He holds a Master’s Degree in English from Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →