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Patrick Henry College officials respond to, refute ‘New Republic’ story

Patrick Henry College in Purcellville is an Evangelical institution with an enrollment of approximately 325. Times-Mirror File Photo/Trevor Baratko
Officials at Patrick Henry College, the small, deeply-religious Christian school in Purcellville, responded to and repudiated Wednesday a longform report in the New Republic that accused the Patrick Henry administration of “victim-blaming” females in the cases of sexual assault.

The New Republic story, now entitled “Sexual Assault at God's Harvard” and published online Monday, highlights accounts from several female former students who reported assaults during their time at the school.

“ … other female students who say they reported sexual assault or harassment to the administration also left feeling that school officials blamed them instead of holding the accused male students accountable," the story, written by Kiera Feldman, notes. "The administration, they say, seemed much more concerned with protecting Patrick Henry’s pristine public image.”

In the school's response, sent to students, PHC officials stated: “Because you have invested your hearts, minds, and resources in this College, you should know that Patrick Henry College is absolutely committed to the protection and care of our students, male and female equally. When and if issues arise, we take each allegation seriously and try to conduct appropriate investigations with a spirit of emotional support while seeking truth. We may not perfectly achieve this objective every time, but this is our aim; this is our heart. The thesis of the article, that women are somehow treated less favorably than men, especially in difficult situations involving physical interactions between a male and female student, is categorically false.”

Click here to read the New Republic story

Click here to read the official Patrick Henry response

Related coverage:

Click here to read 2012's "Queer at Patrick Henry College vexes school's chancellor" - part of a Virginia Press Association award-winning package

This story has been updated from an earlier version.


“God’s Harvard is the name Hannah Rosin’s 2007 book about PHC. But Rosin called her book that because it’s something she heard endlessly repeated by the school’s founders, leaders and promoters. “Harvard for Homeschoolers” was one of founder Michael Farris’ booster slogans. Rosin adopted and adapted that for her title. She did so ironically. (Both words of that title are ironic. Rosin wasn’t telling us that this institution is the academic equivalent of Harvard, or that it is clearly aligned with the divine. The title tells us what the school thinks of itself. These are people who imagine that they have nothing to learn from anyone at Harvard and people who imagine that they represent God.)”

February 18, 2014 By Fred Clark in Patheos

right honorable, if one of the things people dislike about PHC is that they seem to feel that those connected with the institution are speaking for God, it may be the better part of valor to refrain from doing the same by declaring what insults Him.

As for Harvard, PHC has beaten them several times in moot court debate, as well as beaten Oxford University.  That may embarrass Harvard and Oxford more than it does PHC.

To refer to PHC as “God’s Harvard” is quite an insult both to God and Harvard.

Its very interesting that LTM pulled this story from the front page and now you have to search for this article.

“Categorically false” usually means that it’s true.  Shenandoah University should buy the PHC buildings and put a music conservatory in its place.  Purcellville deserves better than a teabag breeding program.

Look folks, PHC does not and has never had a pristine image. Much thanks to party politics and muckraking. I would wager quite a bit of money to say that PHC has the LOWEST sexual assault/abuse rate of any school in the United States. And that’s with a small student body which boosts percentage affected. So, what you’re telling me is that a school with no more than 5 reported cases of sexual assault in at least six years is somehow the breeding ground of this new buzz, “rape culture”?

Were these situations handled well by the school? IF handled as they were reported, no, they were not. Given the obvious slant of the “investigative” piece (I’m tempted to use the word ‘libel’ in the case of the attack on Dean Corbitt) I doubt the facts are completely as reported.

I encourage all of you to use critical thinking and search for the truth of the matter. If that means seeking justice for these women, do it. If that means suggesting policy changes, do it. If that means resigning to the fact that you have no idea what the culture is actually like on campus or what anyone is like, by all means, do it.

It is a sad day in America when an institution that has one of the cleanest criminal records in the country is lambasted for a culture it does not have simply because of external biases.

Women at some state schools cannot walk across their campus without fear of being violently raped. Where is the outcry? Party culture, which arguably was the root of the two named instances regarding PHC students, leads to assault and rape across our nation’s schools. Where is the outcry?

May there be a policy problem at PHC? Quite possibly. However, the behavior that leads to the denigration of women, such as alcoholic intoxication and other common activities of party culture are not permitted or even social accepted within the student body of Patrick Henry College.

Oh know! I almost agree with Frank…. I wonder how many of the 325 were home schooled?

just by their responses of “male and female” is a subliminal message in itself…..how about “female and male”?

These girls are to be commended for their courage in speaking up about the sexual abuse and the corruption at Patrick Henry College.

Yes, they were more interested in protecting Patrick Henry’s pristine public image, than they were in protecting young girls.

Quoted: “How do you report sexual assault at a place where authorities seem skeptical that such a thing even exists?”——
You don’t report it to the institution, you go directly to law enforcement. Sex assault in a crime, and the school officials are not the proper officials to be investigation sex crimes.

Let’s hope that anyone who may have been harmed Patrick Henry college will find the courage to speak up and contact law enforcement, not matter how long ago it happened.
Your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511,  SNAPJudy@gmail.com
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc.

Patrick Henry is a fanatical stain on Loudoun county.

You’re kidding right?  Out of all the quotable passages within the disturbing New Republic story, you picked the most benign quote by Kiera.

This needs to be talked about on a much larger scale than just a brush off piece.  This article reads like a review of an art show held down the street.

Further, I want our county officials to respond as they tend to all have PH alums working on their staff.  Most of them men.

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