University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan announced on Saturday that all fraternities and sororities will be suspended until January 9 in the wake of several allegations of rape at the university. The decision closely follows the release of a Rolling Stone article detailing a pattern of rape and sexual assault occurring at UVA fraternities, which has caused student and faculty protests and sparked national outrage.
In a letter to the UVA community President Sullivan writes that the many rape allegations described in Rolling Stone are “appalling and have caused all of us to reexamine our responsibility to this community.” Sullivan has called on the Charlottesville Police Department to investigate one case in particular, occurring in 2012 and the main subject of the Rolling Stone article.
Sullivan wrote that the UVA Inter-Fraternity Council announced a voluntary suspension of all social activity for the weekend, but that “our challenges will extend beyond this weekend,” and she therefore is suspending all Greek life social activity until January 9, the start of the new semester. Tommy Reid, president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, says the fraternities will be using the time to reach out to sexual violence prevention groups such as One in Four and Green Dot. Sullivan says she will use the intervening time to assemble groups of students, faculty, and other related parties to discuss steps for preventing rape and sexual assault. She also encouraged members of the UVA community to review and respond to the university’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, which is open for public comment.
Since the Rolling Stone published its investigation, UVA has faced pressure from alumni and the general public to respond to the allegations and make changes to keep students safe from sexual assault on campus. On Saturday night several hundred students participated in a faculty-led protest, which took place on the campus’ Rugby Road and ended in front of the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi, the site of the alleged rape detailed in the Stone article. The rally, titled “Take Back the Party: End Rape Now!” was part of a series of responses to the prevalence and tacit acceptance of sexual assault on the UVA campus.
“Usually in terms of speaking with our students and being concerned with their lives, we stick to intellectual conversation in the classroom,” said Professor Susan Fraiman, one of the organizers of the Saturday night rally. “But this is something of enormous importance, so we wanted to be out here on the street. We wanted to make a statement as faculty, to say that sexual violence against women will not be tolerated.”
Media Resources: Rolling Stone 11/24/14, 11/22/14, 11/19/14; University of Virginia 11/24/14, 11/19/14; The Daily Progress 11/24/14; The Cavalier Daily 11/23/14, 11/21/14
Take Action: End rape culture on your campus with the Feminist Campus Campaign to End Sexual Assault.