The president of the University of Virginia announced Saturday that all campus fraternities were suspended until Jan. 9 in light of a recent bombshell report in which a student detailed an alleged gang rape by Phi Kappa Psi members back in 2012.
“Beginning immediately, I am suspending all fraternal organizations and associated social activities until January 9th, ahead of the beginning of our spring semester. In the intervening period we will assemble groups of students, faculty, alumni, and other concerned parties to discuss our next steps in preventing sexual assault and sexual violence on Grounds,” UVA President Teresa Sullivan wrote in a statement on the university’s website.
Earlier this week, Rolling Stone published a story about alleged widespread rape on campus and apparent “administrative cover-up and apathy.” In turn, the UVA chapter of Phi Kappa Psi voluntarily suspended all its operations while the university completes a probe. The Charlottesville Police Department is also investigating the 2012 assault described in the article.
“The wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to re-examine our responsibility to this community,” Sullivan said, adding that on Tuesday the Board of Visitors will meet to discuss the school’s policies and procedures regarding sexual assault.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement that he was “deeply disturbed” by the allegations. “I have called for a zero tolerance strategy to combat campus sexual assault. I have asked university officials to conduct a full review of all of their policies and procedures and if decided, to bring in outside experts to assist in this effort.” He added, “Now is the time to act — we must ensure that survivors are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, and we must do more to hold perpetrators accountable.“
Back in May, the U.S. Education Department released a list of 55 colleges with open “sexual violence investigations.” UVA was one of the schools on the list.
There have been additional, ongoing efforts by the White House to address the issue of sexual assault on campuses this year. A White House task force announced proposals in April to put pressure on universities and colleges to strengthen their handling of sexual assaults. Officials also announced an “It’s On Us” campaign in September to encourage students to speak up and intervene in situations where students could be sexually assaulted.
Preventative measures are also being instituted at the state level. In September, California approved “yes means yes” legislation in which students at all state universities will be held to the same standard when it comes to sexual assault and consent.