The University of Virginia’s suspension of social activities at fraternities and sororities will remain in effect until early January despite doubts raised about the magazine article that prompted the action, school officials said Monday.
U-Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan announced the suspension Nov. 22, three days after Rolling Stone published an article about an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house. But on Friday, key elements of the allegation at the heart of the article started to unravel as the magazine’s managing editor apologized for “discrepancies” in the account.
With the story in doubt, groups supporting fraternal organizations called Sunday for the university to end the suspension, calling it unfair. The Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee, the National Panhellenic Conference and the North American Interfraternity Conference said the “decision to suspend hurt the reputation of thousands of outstanding student leaders in our organizations who had nothing to do with the alleged events described in the article.”
In a statement Monday, the university said Sullivan was sensitive to such concerns. But the university said the suspension has provided a useful “pause” to help the university and Greek organizations discuss safety reforms.
“This important collaborative work continues, and the reinstatement of Greek activities on Jan. 9 will be in conjunction with a new Fraternal Organization Agreement that will enhance the safety of members and their guests,” the university said.
The statement quoted Sullivan, who said in a Dec. 1 address to the community: “In any crisis it can be far too easy to paint with a broad brush, and blindly attack entire groups of individuals. This is not a responsible reaction.” In that address, Sullivan went on to say that fraternity members at U-Va. are “good and decent people” and were equally distressed at the allegations.
Some student leaders say the suspension has little practical effect because the university is soon heading into winter break. Classes are scheduled to resume Jan. 12, three days after the suspension lifts.
Also Monday, the university outlined steps it plans to take for campus safety, part of its effort to respond to questions raised in recent weeks. Among other steps, the university said that Sullivan had convened an “ad hoc group” Friday to brainstorm ideas for improving the university climate and culture. Sullivan has also called on all student organizations to review their contracts with the University to safeguard the safety of their respective members and participants.
Below is the full text of the U-Va. statement on the fraternity suspension:
University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan remains sensitive to concerns about broadly indicting the entire Greek system in the aftermath of the allegations described in the Rolling Stone article. As she said in her Dec. 1 address to the community, “In any crisis it can be far too easy to paint with a broad brush, and blindly attack entire groups of individuals. This is not a responsible reaction.” Sullivan went on to state fraternity men at U.Va. are “good and decent people” and were equally distressed at the allegations in the article.
The purpose of the suspension of fraternity and sorority social activities was to give the University and Greek leadership a pause to identify solutions that would best ensure the well-being and safety of students. This important collaborative work continues, and the reinstatement of Greek activities on Jan. 9 will be in conjunction with a new Fraternal Organization Agreement that will enhance the safety of members and their guests.
President Sullivan’s decision to suspend fraternity and sorority social activity for the remainder of the year came after U.Va.’s Inter-fraternity Council suspended its activities for the weekend of Nov. 21 and after the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter at U.Va. voluntarily surrendered its own Fraternal Organization Agreement with the University.
The IFC presented a number of ideas for reform at the Board of Visitors’ meeting on Nov. 25, and President Sullivan continues to meet with leadership of all four Greek councils — the IFC, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council and the Inter-Sorority Council — to discuss additional ideas about how best to ensure the safety of their members and guests while also bringing about meaningful cultural change at the University.