The University of Virginia isn’t letting questions about the reporting by Rolling Stone on an alleged sexual assault at a frat party stand in the way of broader reform on the issue, according the university.
“I remain committed to a fearless examination of our culture and practices,” UVA president Teresa Sullivan said in a statement, adding, ”Everyone agrees that there is a piece of our culture that is broken, and only a united effort will provide us the best answers for how to fix that.”
Sullivan announced the creation of two groups to address campus reforms, an “ad-hoc group to explore policies, practices and organizational structure” and an “administrative task force charged with implementing the advisory group’s recommendations.” She added, “Our most important work is ahead of us.”
That work includes examining the role of Greek like, alcohol and drug use, as well as zeroing in on prevention and response. Sullivan will sit on the ad hoc committee, as will Board of Visitors members, alumni, administrators, students and parents.
In a letter to parents, Sullivan announced additional steps the university will take to improve campus safety, including increased police presence; introducing “ambassadors,” who will wear uniforms and serve as unarmed security personnel; and upgraded lighting around campus buildings where people work late.
Sullivan has asked the Charlottesville Police to open an investigation into the incident described at the beginning of the Rolling Stone story, featuring a freshman who was allegedly gang raped at a fraternity. There will also be an independent review of the University’s practices by the Virginia attorney general’s office.
The explosive Rolling Stone story has come under attack for factual discrepancies that appear to arise from an agreement the reporter made with a source to not contact the assailants. But the problem at UVA appears to go wider and deeper: A video emerged showing Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo — who played a prominent role in the Rolling Stone article — acknowledging several UVA students had been suspended, rather than expelled, after admitting to sexual assault. The university has also been accused of hypocrisy for expelling students over academic dishonesty but not sexual assault.
Sullivan previously suspended fraternity activity until the end of the year. She addressed students last week, saying, “Our university has been placed at the center of this crisis. We will not shrink from it. We will lead.” In a second statement Monday, the university said fraternity activities will resume on Jan. 9 “in conjunction with a new Fraternal Organization Agreement that will enhance the safety of members and their guests.”