University Of Virginia lays out student safety plan

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2014 12:57 AM

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) - The University of Virginia on Monday set out the first steps of a new student safety plan, especially for survivors of sexual assault, days after Rolling Stone magazine backtracked on its story about an alleged gang rape at a fraternity.

The university has been reeling since the publication in November of an account detailing the alleged rape at a UVA fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, during a party in September 2012.

The university suspended Greek activities until Jan. 9, in the wake of the magazine's allegations. National fraternity and sorority groups called on the university to lift the ban, which they said tarnished their reputations on campus.

The Washington Post, citing a statement from school officials, reported on Monday that the university declined to lift the ban, arguing that the proscription would give campus leaders a "pause" to find remedies.

Reuters could not independently verify the report. Representatives for the university could not be immediately reached.

Rolling Stone editors backed away from their story on Friday, saying it had misplaced its trust in the young woman who made the accusations. The magazine subsequently revised its statement, taking responsibility for the problems in the story and saying the alleged victim was not at fault.

But UVA President Teresa Sullivan said on Monday that the university would continue focusing on student safety, the role of fraternities and Greek life on campus, and institutional support for those who had survived sexual assaults.

Among the first steps will be the creation of an ad-hoc group to explore various aspects of student life and the university's policies.

"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 said in a statement.

Sullivan also aims to create a police substation near the 21,000-student campus, increase police patrols, provide escorts for students in key areas, and expand bystander training for students and faculty.

The Charlottesville Police Department has begun an investigation into the rape allegations at the fraternity, and Virginia's attorney general has named a independent counsel to review the university's response to the allegations.

The rape accusations at UVA have ignited debate in the U.S. on sexual abuse, and prompted student protests across the country against rape.

(Editing by Curtis Skinner and Eric Meijer)