Two Virginia fraternities reject party rules after rape story

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 14, 2015 4:13 PM

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) - Two University of Virginia fraternities are refusing to sign an operating agreement to help prevent sexual assaults and binge drinking that stemmed from a discredited Rolling Stone story about gang rape at another fraternity.

The fraternities, Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha, said in identical statements that the university’s decision to suspend activities at all sororities and fraternities in the wake of the Rolling Stone controversy was unfair.

"The system-wide suspension, which was initiated for reasons that were found to be untrue, unfairly punished all members of fraternities and sororities,” the statement said on Tuesday.

Rolling Stone reported in November on a 2012 attack on a woman at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and the university's failure to respond.

The story generated an uproar at the Charlottesville school and in the media. Rolling Stone stepped away from the story in early December, citing “discrepancies” in the account by the accuser.

In their statement, the fraternities said their policies were stricter than the ones being proposed. The deadline for fraternities to agree to the new rules is Friday.

They also maintain that the new rules might create liability for individual fraternity members that should be borne by the university.

The new rules include requiring that three sober fraternity members monitor behavior at house functions. One “sober brother” must man the stairs to fraternity bedrooms to help prevent sexual assaults.

“Together, these circumstance set a dangerous precedent of an erosion of student and organizational rights,” the statement said.

University spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said the new agreements were developed by student groups themselves.

The university reinstated Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Monday after an investigation by Charlottesville police found no basis for the allegations in the Rolling Stone article.

(Editing by Ian Simpson and Peter Cooney)