Despite the collapse of Rolling Stone’s bombshell article alleging that a violent gang rape occurred at one of its fraternities, the University of Virginia has refused to revoke its suspension of all Greek activities on campus until the end of the year.
When allegations first emerged in Rolling Stone that a girl, “Jackie,” had been raped by more than half a dozen members of Phi Kappa Psi during a 2012 party, UVA president Teresa Sullivan responded by canceling all social activity at the school’s fraternities and sororities until Jan. 9, declaring that it was an “important first step” in acting to prevent sexual violence at the school.
However, doubts quickly emerged as journalists questioned Rolling Stone’s decision to not contact individuals accused of participating in the rape and key facts were called into question. Following two weeks growing criticism, the magazine walked back the story last Friday, admitting it had “misplaced” trust in Jackie.
With the initial cause of their suspension discredited, several UVA and national fraternal organizations quickly moved to seek a reversal of their suspension. Over the weekend, they released a statement calling on the school “to immediately reinstate operations for all fraternity and sorority organizations on campus, to issue an apology for its actions of the last two weeks, [and] to publicly explain and release all records for the basis of its decision to suspend our organizations.” The issue is largely a symbolic one, as UVA is in the midst of final exams and won’t resume classes until Jan. 12.
Regardless, the school is not backing down, with President Sullivan announcing Monday night that the mass suspension of Greek life will continue for an additional month.
“Even though the facts in the Rolling Stone story are in dispute, sexual misconduct does occur and it has no place at our University,” said Sullivan. She said the university would continue forward with its plans to create a series of task forces to significantly revise how the school addresses sexual assault.
Ironically, while refusing to withdraw the suspension, Sullivan said she wanted to avoid assigning any collective guilt at the school.
“I remain sensitive to concerns about broadly indicting the entire Greek system. As I said in an address earlier this month, in any crisis it can be far too easy to paint with a broad brush, and to blindly attack entire groups of individuals. This is not a responsible reaction,” said Sullivan.
The school’s Greek organizations have not yet responded to Sullivan’s continuation of the suspension.
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