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The national heads of 16 sororities said Thursday they were not wavering from their request that members of chapters at the University of Virginia avoid fraternity parties associated with this weekend's big recruitment drive. They also declined a request from the student council to discuss the matter.
"While we value the input our chapter leaders have to offer on this important and ongoing dialogue, our members' safety and well-being must remain our top priority. That is why we stand by the collective decision," the sorority leaders said in a joint statement.
The statement was in response to a growing backlash at UVA to the Jan. 20 letter. Many students have said that the request suggested the sorority members were unable to make proper decisions themselves, and undermined ongoing efforts to make the campus safer from sexual violence. The university's student council passed a resolution Tuesday protesting the request as an attack on students' self-governance, and had asked for a meeting with the sorority presidents on Friday.
A spokeswoman for the sororities said there would be no meeting, and shared their response to the student council. "The inter/national presidents representing the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organizations at the University of Virginia thank you for your invitation; however, we must respectfully decline," the sororities said. "Each of us is working individually to continue dialogue with the members of our organizations."
UVA has only recently allowed fraternities and sororities to resume activities, following a moratorium imposed late last year. The move was made in response to a now-discredited Rolling Stone article that described an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house.
The moratorium was lifted after the school and Greek leaders came up with new safety rules. Since then, the annual recruitment of new members, or "rush," has continued. Invitations are to be delivered this weekend in what is known as bid day, which is accompanied by parties. The sororities' Jan. 20 letter asked that sorority members stay away from those parties to protect their "safety and well-bring."
The sorority leaders pointed out that the request reflected a standing NPC policy barring members from participating in men's bid day activities on any campus. They promised to "engage directly with our respective chapters to address their concerns and move forward from here."
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