The University of Virginia on Saturday suspended all fraternities and related activities in the wake of a shocking report in Rolling Stone about an alleged 2012 sexual assault involving seven men, and the peer pressure that followed urging the victim not to report it.
University president Teresa A. Sullivan described the alleged gang rape laid out in the article as “appalling” and said in an statement posted to the university’s web site Saturday that the school has since asked the Charlottesville police department to investigate the alleged assault. There have been no arrests in the case.
"I write you today in solidarity. I write you in great sorrow, great rage, but most importantly, with great determination," Sullivan said in the statement. "Meaningful change is necessary, and we can lead that change for all universities. We can demand that incidents like those described in Rolling Stone never happen and that if they do, the responsible are held accountable to the law."
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Also Saturday, two men and two women were arrested on trespassing charges while protesting the fraternity house where the Rolling Stone article said the alleged sexual assault occurred, Charlottesville police said.
The school’s Inter-Fraternity Council released a statement Thursday saying it was "horrified" and "disgusted" by the allegations in the article, and it voluntarily cancelled all events this weekend. The university on Saturday went further, and announced all fraternities and related events will be suspended until Jan. 9. The fraternity at the heart of the allegations, Phi Kappa Psi, had already announced it was suspending the chapter, calling the alleged assaults "vile and intolerable."
In the article, published Wednesday, a woman said she was attacked by seven men at a Phi Kappa Psi party when she was an 18-year-old freshman. After the rape some of her friends urged her not to report the crime, with one saying "she’s gonna be the girl who cried rape, and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again," according to the article. The article also quoted critics who said the university administration has a culture of not taking sexual assault complaints seriously.
On Tuesday the university's Board of Visitors will meet to discuss the school's policies regarding sexual assault as well as the allegations in the Rolling Stone article.
The university had appointed a former federal judge and prosecutor, Mark Filip, to independently investigate how the school responds to rape. But on Friday, the school withdrew its appointment after learning that Filip was a member of Phi Kappa Psi when he was in college. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement that "this situation is too serious to allow anything to undermine confidence in the objectivity and independence of this review."
The scandal at the University of Virginia is the latest in recent weeks involving fraternities on college campuses. On Nov. 13, West Virginia University suspended all fraternities, sororities, and affiliated organizations after an 18-year-old student, Nolan Michael Burch, died in a fraternity house. In September, all fraternity activities at Clemson University were suspended after a student died during a fraternity run.
— Phil Helsel