University of Virginia

Fight for your right to party? Not required in sororities and minority frats

Spurred by the discredited Rolling Stone story about gang rape at a single University of Virginia fraternity, administrators and Greek life leaders have come up with strict new rules for most fraternities – and weaker ones for sororities and minority Greeks.

The changes come on the heels of a voluntary suspension of fraternity activities, and a larger blanket prohibition on social activities by President Teresa Sullivan.

Phi Kappa Psi, the venue for the discredited gang rape, was reinstated by the school this week, though the local police are still investigating the claims of “Jackie,” the student at the center of the Rolling Stone article, the New York Times reported.

alcohol190.AlexMestas.flickrA new addendum to the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) agreement heavily regulates frat functions, defined as events that run past 9 p.m. and have more than half the chapter’s members present.

The new rules make frat parties look more like nightclubs than campus soirees.

At least three brothers must be “sober and lucid,” meaning “without influence of any substance,” at each function. At least one each “must be present at each point of alcohol distribution and another at the stairs leading to residential rooms.”

Whoever is monitoring the stairs “must have immediate key access to each room in the fraternity house during the social function.”

Party monitors must “wear a designated identifier” that will be standardized across all frats, and at least three of the sober brothers must be “non-first year” members. All fraternity functions have to be registered by 11:59 P.M. “the preceding Tuesday.”

Say goodbye to kegs and punch bowls

The most sweeping change may be what drinks can be served at frat parties, and how they can be dispensed.

Kegs are out: Beer can only be served from the original, unopened can. Wine can be served “upon request, poured visibly at the bar” by one of the sober monitors, while punches and other “pre-mixed drinks” are banned entirely. So-called jungle juice has been blamed for binge drinking and sexual assault, The College Fix has reported.

To keep booze from acting too quickly, frats must provide bottled water at every beverage station and food at one of those stations.

alcohol-bar.SakshiSharma.flickrFrats must hire licensed bartenders to serve hard liquor at Tier 1 events – those with more guests than brothers present – while people can bring their own hard liquor to a “central bar location, overseen by a sober brother,” at Tier 2 events, where the number of guests “approximately matches” the brothers.

In changes bent on “eliminating discomfort and chaos” at the door, Tier 1 parties now must have a security guard from a vendor approved by the IFC, using a guest list that “exclusively dictate[s]” who gets in. Tier 2 parties need to use a guest list to “manage entry.”

The changes are necessary because of issues with “high-risk drinking, sexual misconduct, and unhealthy power structures,” according to the addendum’s introduction.

University spokesman Anthony de Bruyn did not explain to The Fix what “unhealthy power structures” mean.

It’s unclear what other terms mean in the addendum, which is barely two pages. There’s no definition of “substance” or “influence,” or the exact distinction between the role of guest lists at Tier 1 and 2 parties.

Drastically lighter rules for women and minorities

Greeks who aren’t white males seem to have gotten a pass on strict new rules.

The new addendum for sororities, historically black frats, and Latin, Asian or “multicultural” Greeks, only vaguely requires the development of “risk management strategies and safe social practices.”

drunkasianwomen.TracyWong.flickrThey have to submit recommendations for safety procedures as well as increase alcohol safety and bystander intervention training, but there are no particular requirements for their parties.

Sororities already have “sober sisters” at social events because of “national organization requirements,” Julia Pedrick, Inter-Sorority Council president, told President Sullivan in a Jan. 2 letter, but it’s unclear what their duties are.

Spokesman de Bruyn told The Fix by email that each frat and sorority “must abide by their respective addenda,” but did not explain why certain Greek organizations were placed under harsher rules, or direct The Fix toward someone who could.

Neither members of the IFC nor Sullivan’s office returned requests for comment.

Sexual-assault group based on dubious stats helped craft rules

In addition to current and former Greek leaders and members, “scores of individual alumni” and student groups including One in Four helped develop “these improvements to our system,” IFC President Tommy Reid said in a university press release.

One in Four is an anti-sexual assault advocacy group, which derives its name from the unsubstantiated claim that one in four college women has “survived rape or attempted rape.”

It teaches men “to challenge their own behaviors and influence the behaviors of others,” and women how to identify “characteristics of high-risk perpetrators.”

College Fix reporter Matt Lamb is a student at Loyola University-Chicago.

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IMAGES: Phil Roeder/Flickr, Alex Mestas/Flickr, SakshiSharma/Flickr, Tracy Wong/Flickr

“Taking Action On Sexual Assault — A Student Perspective” is the title of a two-page document containing various recommendations to help combat the “sexual assault storm” at the University of Virginia.

“It is a problem among us, and a problem we must fix at personal and cultural levels,” the introduction says.

Indeed, the document has three sets of recommendations — nine for UVA’s Board of Visitors, and seven each for administration and students.

One of these (for the BOV) is something you might have come to expect: a requirement to take Women and Gender Studies courses.

There is much to learn about our culture’s impact on and interaction with women. Assuring that each student engages with these ideas is an enabler of cultural change. The BOV can: budget increased support for the program, direct schools to create requirement.

Other ideas include the creation of a Gender Violence Institute, an All-Night Women’s Center, and mandatory faculty training “on their responsibilities and how to sensitively interact with survivors.”

But what is most … frightening is the call for closed criminal trials in rape cases:

One hurdle to pursuing criminal resolution may be the painstaking public nature of trials. Introducing privacy could make that path more attractive. The BOV can: advocate publicly to Richmond.

Fortunately, University of Virginia student body, this is the United States, not Stalin’s USSR or Mao’s China. And, American campuses already have a rather sordid history when it comes to holding private proceedings.

If the members of the Board of Visitors have even a smidgen of legal integrity, they will nix this awful idea faster than Rolling Stone had to backtrack on its UVA “gang rape” story.

Read the full document.

h/t to KC Johnson.

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Although the Rolling Stone “gang rape” story at the University of Virginia has fallen apart, the apparent ringleader of the attack on the Phi Kappa Psi house — where the “rape” supposedly occurred — remains undaunted.

Reportedly from a family of privilege, the alleged leader “admitted his role and described the attack his friends carried out in details that match police and eyewitness reports.”

The Washington Times reports:

The student agreed to talk to The Times only on the condition that his name wasn’t published, saying he didn’t want police to find him.

“I texted one of my friends and I was like, ‘Let’s throw bottles at the Phi Psi house tonight,’ and she said, ‘Yes!’ I think that the article made it clear that victims at the university have no legitimate channels to take action, and I think vandalism is a completely legitimate form of action when like, legitimate authority is corrupt. I think it was justified,” he said in an interview with The Times.

Asked whether he believed the ends generally justified the means, he casually replied, “Sure.” He also said he is not opposed to “armed revolution” as a means to end what he termed “systemic oppression.”

The student said his group of friends sent an anonymous letter to various news organizations several hours after the attack warning that it was “just the beginning.” The letter threatened to “escalate and provoke until certain demands were met,” including “an immediate revision of university policy mandating expulsion as the only sanction for rape and sexual assault.”

Thus far, there is no definitive word as to whether local law enforcement and the university have undertaken investigations to determine the identities of the vandals, and if there will be charges brought against them.

The purported leader adopted a stance all too typical of college campuses:

The student who claimed to participate in the attack said he had no regrets despite the fact that the accuracy of Jackie’s story in Rolling Stone has come under significant doubt, including the name of the fraternity where the alleged attack occurred. Asked whether he felt at all bad about attacking the wrong fraternity, he showed no remorse and justified the attack on the broader woes of “social injustice.”

Read the full story.

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IMAGE: Phil Roeder/Flickr

It seems the University of Virginia is starting to get a bit peeved at all the backlash following the now-discredited Rolling Stone gang-rape story.

This past Friday, George Martin, the university’s rector, tore into the media at the beginning of a Board of Visitors meeting.

“Our tightly knit community has experienced the full fury of drive-by journalism in the 21st century — of callous indifference to the truth and callous indifference to the consequences,” he said.

He added the the university’s reputation had been “unfairly tarnished.”

The New York Times reports:

While saying they remain determined to combat sexual assault, leaders of the University of Virginia on Friday publicly pushed back against the damage done to its reputation by a discredited account of a gang rape at a fraternity house.

A month ago, Rolling Stone published its article about a woman who said seven men had assaulted her at a party here two years ago amid an alcohol-soaked social scene of fraternity brothers misbehaving with impunity. News organizations followed by swarming into this quiet town, many of them giving bruising assessments of one of the nation’s elite public universities.

For weeks, university officials were careful not to strike a defensive tone, emphasizing that whatever doubts there were about the account, they saw a problem that needed addressing.

Before reciting a long list of things the administration is doing to make the campus safer, Teresa A. Sullivan, the university president, said, “Our concern with sexual assault was not something that started with the Rolling Stone article.” And she said she felt compelled to state that “UVA’s climate and culture are generally healthy.”

Of course, Martin and President Sullivan are partly responsible for that media “full fury” that descended upon the campus. When the Rolling Stone story broke, both appeared to accept it at face value.

Martin had stated:

“I’d like to say to [the victim] and her parents I am sorry, and to all survivors of sexual assault, I am sorry. As we said last week, this type of conduct will not be tolerated at the University of Virginia. The status quo is not acceptable. Like all of you gathered here today, I am appalled.”

President Sullivan reacted by suspending all fraternities and associated activities.

But now they’re miffed at all the media coverage. What a shame.

Read the full story.

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The Washington Post‘s thorough reporting has already cleaned up much of the mess that Rolling Stone made in its botched expose of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.

But crosstown rival Washington Times adds a few new details on how friends of “Jackie” got conned into thinking she was dating someone right before her alleged rape.

Regarding that cellphone number that Jackie gave her friends to text the man she claimed to be seeing:

Eventually, the friends ended up with three numbers for the man. All are registered to Internet services that enable people to text without cellphone numbers but also can be used to redirect calls to different numbers or engage in spoofing, according to multiple research databases checked by The Washington Times.

“That definitely raises some red flags,” Alex Stock, a University of Virginia junior and friend of Jackie, told The Times. “I think as more details come out I definitely feel a little more skeptical. This is all new territory for me. I’m not too technologically savvy.”

Another friend, Kathryn Hendley, said “It’s news to me” when told Jackie’s numbers were traced to spoofing services:

“I think as the story has moved along it has raised some new doubts. I honestly wish I could just talk to her sometimes and ask her myself or at least tell her that I hope she’s all right,” she said.

Another friend verifies that Jackie panicked and tried to back out when writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely indicated she wanted to write a broad story with UVa at the center of a national crisis of rape.

Read the Times story.

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IMAGE: Phil Roeder/Flickr

Two high-profile media reports this week have cast aspersions on the oft-cited statistic that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college.

The lead author of the study most frequently credited with the 1-in-5 stat also recently said that his findings can’t be “nationally representative” because it examined only two schools, as The College Fix previously noted.

In evaluating the accuracy of a Virginia state senator’s claim that women at the University of Virginia have a “20 percent chance of being sexually assaulted,” PolitiFact Virginia rated the claim “mostly false,” noting the survey never examined UVa and it had “major caveats” anyway:

Researchers noted the results were limited to the two unidentified colleges [in the South and Midwest] surveyed and may not generalize to the experiences of all college women. They also said the survey had a “modest” 42 percent response rate to their Web-based survey, which the researchers noted is lower than other methods, such as face-to-face interviews. They hoped, however, that anonymity would provide more candid answers and better data.

James Fox, a professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University, told PolitiFact National in May that  the “one-in-five statistic shouldn’t just be taken with a grain of salt, but the entire shaker.”

There are similar caveats in a survey conducted at the MIT campus, PolitiFact Virginia says, and not just an extremely broad definition of assault:

But the researchers found the undergraduates answered the question differently when asked if they had been “sexually assaulted or raped” and were allowed to apply their own definitions to the terms. Under those conditions, 11 percent of the women answered “yes.”

The report concludes:

We’re not downplaying the issue of sexual assaults at UVa., a problem that’s been repeatedly acknowledged by Teresa Sullivan, president of the university. But there’s a burden on [Senate Minority Leader Richard] Saslaw to prove his claim and he comes up short.

The New York Times editorial board, not known for being rape apologists, also admitted the 1-in-5 stat is unreliable and called for better research:

That study, probably the best we have, is flawed. It was based on undergraduates at just two unnamed large public universities, and it had a response rate of only 42 percent. Other studies on the subject came to similar conclusions but have their own shortcomings. …

Still, lack of clarity on what is happening on campuses isn’t helping anyone, least of all victims who, after the Rolling Stone report, may unfortunately face more doubters.

Read the PolitiFact Virginia and New York Times articles.

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IMAGE: Phil Roeder/Flickr