Be sure to report it tomorrow

A feminist student was murdered in April. It looks likely that she was murdered because she was a feminist. The university didn’t do much to prevent her murder.

The University of Mary Washington’s campus in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was hit by a spate of violent threats against a feminist student group for months leading up to the alleged murder of a group member in April. Documents provided to The Huffington Post show the administration was keenly aware of the continued harassment, which was posted on the anonymous messaging app Yik Yak, but a federal complaint filed Thursday alleges the public university failed to act on this knowledge and permitted a hostile environment against female students.

Police have not revealed a possible motive for student’s killing and the complaint does not state the school is responsible for her death, nor does it explicitly connect the threats to her killing.

A feminist club had complained to the student senate about fraternities; harassment ensued.

The harassment continued and escalated in the spring, when complaints from club led the university to suspend its club rugby team over a sexist chant some of its members had performed at a party.

Grace Mann, a Feminists United Club member who had been subject to Yik Yak threats of physical and sexual violence, was killed on April 17 by asphyxia by strangulation. Steven Vander Briel, Mann’s roommate and a former member of the rugby team, was arrested later that day and charged with first-degree murder in connection with her death.

Maybe there’s no connection between the two.

Also at the Nov. 23 party, the complaint alleges, a member of the rugby team shouted he wanted to hit a woman. A male who told the rugby member that was not an appropriate joke allegedly was then bullied by rugby team members who called him a “pussy,” according to the complaint. A copy of the complaint and dozens of related emails and screenshots were shared with The Huffington Post.

Men in the UK still try to tell me that “pussy” is absolutely not a sexist epithet in any way, it just means fraidy-cat.

Julia Michels, a club member, emailed the UMW administration on March 25 to explain how members were threatened “with both physical and sexual violence, and have had countless derogatory and misogynistic slurs directed at us.” The club had collected 200 examples of violent posts on Yik Yak directed at them, Michels said. A week later, that number grew to 700.

On March 27, the campus received an email noting the university “has no recourse for such cyber bullying,” but urging students to report direct threats. One student sent a response on March 30 stating, “We have evidence of these posts and have showed them to administrators, and your response is to ‘report them to yik yak’? an app that was created by two fraternity guys? We have been trying to do this for months and this approach clearly has not worked in the slightest.”

That’s so typical. The response almost always seems to be “oh gosh, that’s terrible, if it gets any worse be sure to report it.” When they just did report it! It’s always jam tomorrow.


  1. says

    I never have and still do not understand why US universities are allowed to govern themselves outside of civil or state laws. Why are there not city or state police on their campuses with warrants, seizing files and investigating the murder? How did public and private institutions somehow become exempt to laws that every other organization has to abide by? Then again, US corporations would undoubtedly like the same immunity….

  2. iknklast says

    Actually, US corporations have some of the same immunity, it just tends to be from the environmental laws, where they are allowed to report violations to themselves and put it in their file and do nothing about it.

    This is just the same thing, only at universities (which are run like corporations in many ways these days – it’s more about the money, therefore the image, than anything else).

  3. iknklast says

    Just so no one misunderstands and piles on the above, when I say corporations are allowed to “do nothing about it”, I mean like paying fines or anything. They are expected to fix the violation. So it appears in some ways universities have less responsibility in some ways, since there is no evidence they have to fix it.

  4. says

    Why are there not city or state police on their campuses with warrants, seizing files and investigating the murder?

    It says they arrested him and charged him with murder. Presumably that means there’s a police investigation involved.

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