Two UVA Frats Refuse to Sign Agreement Forged After Rape StoryMichael McDonald
Two University of Virginia fraternities refused to sign onto new rules restricting alcohol consumption at their parties, saying the school is using a discredited Rolling Stone article to unfairly punish them.
Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha Order said the university was wrong to suspend all Greek life in the wake of a Nov. 19 article that purported to detail the gang rape of a woman named “Jackie” by seven unidentified members of the Phi Kappa Psi house. Rolling Stone has since apologized for the story, citing “discrepancies” in the account.
UVA violated an existing fraternity operating agreement by suspending their activities in November, using the suspension as leverage to force changes that create new liability for the groups, the fraternities said in separate statements. Kevin O’Neill, a lawyer for the two frats, said they will continue operating and plan to initiate new members this semester.
“The fact is the university has never acknowledged that they made a mistake in suspending 25 percent of the student body that had nothing to do with an article that proved to be erroneous,” said O’Neill, an attorney at Squire Patton Boggs in Washington. “The university has not apologized and has not explained why they took this action.”
Teresa A. Sullivan, UVA’s president, reinstated Greek social activities last week and announced the new operating agreement, which include rules such as a ban on pre-mixed drinks and the requirement that some members serve as sober monitors at parties.
Some of the proposed rules could place fraternity members in a precarious legal position, O’Neill said.
“Some of the things they are asking students to do, like stand at top of the stairs and monitor rooms, creates a duty the school should be bearing themselves if that’s their concern,” he said.
While some fraternity and sorority leaders worked with the university on the new rules, the dissent echoes concerns from some national groups that had opposed the blanket suspension. Before Rolling Stone acknowledged errors in its story, some UVA faculty had called for banning the groups altogether.
UVA cleared Phi Kappa Psi this week after Charlottesville police said there was “no basis” to believe that an assault had taken place on its premises. The fraternity signed the accord with UVA.
Greek organizations have until Jan. 16 to sign the new agreements, Anthony de Bruyn, a university spokesman, said.
“We remain hopeful that all groups will commit to these reasonable protocols designed to improve student safety,” de Bruyn said in an e-mail.
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