UVa Urged to Reinstate Fraternity Activities - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

UVa Urged to Reinstate Fraternity Activities

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The University of Virginia should lift its suspension of fraternity and sorority activities now that Rolling Stone has acknowledged mistakes in its reporting of an alleged gang rape on campus, three organizations said in a statement.

The Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee, the National Panhellenic Conference and the North-American Interfraternity Conference also said the university should apologize for a "rush to judgment" that damaged the reputation of Greek organizations and students.

University President Teresa A. Sullivan suspended Greek activities until Jan. 9 after Rolling Stone published an article last month describing an alleged gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. In their statement Sunday, the three national Greek organizations said the decision was made before an investigation into the story's allegations was completed.

"We believe universities must demonstrate more respect for the fundamental rights to due process and freedom of association for students and student organizations when allegations of misconduct are lodged," they said. "A rush to judgment on campus all too often turns out to be wrong, especially when applied at the organizational level."

University spokesman McGregor McCance said in an email Monday that the administration was drafting a response to the organizations' statement.

The statement came the same day that Rolling Stone modified its earlier apology to emphasize that the mistakes were the magazine's fault, not the woman who was the main source of the story. Friday's original note to readers said of Jackie, "Our trust in her was misplaced." The updated note removes that line, which some critics viewed as blaming the victim.

The magazine said it shouldn't have agreed to Jackie's request not to contact the people she said attacked her to get their side of the story, out of sensitivity to her. "These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie," wrote the magazine's managing editor, Will Dana. "We apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening."

The article rocked a campus still reeling from the disappearance and death of 18-year-old sophomore Hannah Graham. It portrayed a culture of sexual violence at U.Va., one of the nation's leading public universities, and an administration response that put protecting the school's image ahead of seeking justice for sex crimes.

Phi Kappa Psi has denied the assault and said it didn't host an event on the night Jackie alleged she was raped. Dana said in his updated note that Jackie is now unsure that the man who allegedly lured her into a room to be raped by seven men was a member of Phi Kappa Psi, and that other discrepancies in her account have emerged. Jackie told The Washington Post she stood by her story.

The article prompted Sullivan to promise stronger efforts to combat sexual violence. Some advocates for rape victims have expressed concern that the magazine's backpedaling could undermine efforts to combat campus sexual assaults, but McCance said that won't happen at U.Va.

"The news of the magazine backing away from its story does not change our focus," he said.

Brian Head, president of the U.Va. chapter of the rape prevention group One in Four, said he believes the momentum to change the culture on campus will be sustained. He said in a telephone interview that the story "shocked our university into taking a hard look at ourselves and recognizing our shortcomings. We looked at the article first, then ourselves, and we were angry with both."

Kate McCord, spokeswoman for the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, said the magazine's admission of errors "doesn't change the facts of the larger story - the prevalence of campus sexual violence itself."

She also said trauma often affects rape survivors' memories, so discrepancies in the details of the alleged assault do not mean it didn't happen.

"Inconsistencies do not equal lying," McCord said.

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