UVa. Dean Sues, Wants Text Messages from Alleged Rape Victim

How Dean Nicole Eramo can be trusted with survivors of sexual violence after this, I will never understand.

Article by AP

Lawyers for a University of Virginia dean who’s suing Rolling Stone magazine are asking a judge to force the subject of a debunked article about an alleged gang rape on campus to reveal text messages and other communications in the case, saying it would expose the woman as a “serial liar.”

Attorneys for Associate Dean Nicole Eramo, who’s seeking more than $7.5 million in damages from the magazine, said in recent court filings that the woman referred to only as “Jackie” in the November 2014 article should have to turn over the documents because there’s no evidence that the alleged assault occurred, The Richmond Times Dispatch reports.

That would “require Jackie to admit that her concern is not being outed as a victim of sexual assault, but rather being exposed as a serial liar who invented people, events and text messages,” attorneys for Eramo wrote.

Eramo sued Rolling Stone in May, saying she was cast as the “chief villain” in the discredited piece in her role as the top administrator dealing with sexual assaults at the Charlottesville school.

An investigation by Charlottesville police found no evidence to back up Jackie’s claims that she had been raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in September 2012. Rolling Stone retracted the article and the magazine’s managing editor and article’s author both apologized.

Eramo’s attorneys said they want Jackie to hand over her communications with the associate dean, other university officials and the magazine’s author, among other things.

Jackie’s lawyers blasted Eramo in court documents, saying Jackie shouldn’t have to disclose private information because she’s not a party to the lawsuit and should be protected as a victim of an alleged sexual assault.

“What is tragic about this case is that Dean Eramo apparently believes she can rehabilitate her reputation by attacking a student she herself counseled and whom she referred to support groups and additional counseling following her report of sexual assault,” the woman’s attorneys wrote.

The National Organization for Woman has called on University President Teresa Sullivan to intervene and put a stop to what they call the “re-victimization” of Jackie.

“Your dean’s demands recite nearly every false argument made to undermine victims of sexual assault. It is exactly this kind of victim blaming and shaming that fosters rape culture, re-victimizes those brave enough to come forward, and silences countless other victims,” NOW President Terry O’Neill said in a letter to Sullivan.

University officials declined to comment.

An attorney for Rolling Stone didn’t immediately return an emailed request on Saturday for comment.


U-Va. waged intense fight to influence federal sexual assault investigation

Speaking of unsurprising news…

By Nick Anderson, Nov. 3, 2015 — Washington Post

The University of Virginia waged an intense fight over the summer to influence the conclusions of a federal investigation into sexual violence at the school, newly obtained documents show, while Virginia’s governor personally pressed the nation’s top education official to ensure that the elite public flagship would not be unfairly tarnished.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) urged U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to give U-Va. a chance to review the findings of the four-year investigation of the school’s record on sexual assault before they were made public, saying he feared that U-Va. was being denied “very basic requirements of due process.”

McAuliffe also expressed concern about what he viewed as an “adversarial” posture from the investigative agency — the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights — toward U-Va. The governor said he preferred “constructive and cooperative” approaches to reform.

“I respectfully urge you to act in order to guarantee that the very important work of OCR at the University of Virginia is not undermined by any unfair or unjust process,” McAuliffe wrote Duncan on Aug. 14.

Soon afterward, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine, both Virginia Democrats, also reinforced the plea to Duncan, one of the longest-serving members of President Obama’s Cabinet.

“The governor’s letter raises serious procedural questions that could affect the accuracy of the investigation,” the senators wrote to Duncan on Aug. 25. “We urge you to give his concerns careful consideration.”

[See the letters between Virginia officials and the federal government]

The politicians’ intervention, in correspondence The Washington Post obtained from the federal agency, came as top U-Va. officials were raising concerns about the direction of an investigation with the potential to bruise the university’s public image. The prestigious university had just endured a difficult year, with the high-profile slaying of sophomore Hannah Graham, a Rolling Stone article that accused the school of indifference to sexual assault and the bloody arrest of a black student outside a bar.

[At U-Va., relief as a tumultuous year draws to a close]

A senior Education Department official said pushback from schools and their allies during an investigation is not unusual. Catherine E. Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, told The Post that U-Va. was treated fairly and that the investigation’s findings were not softened.

“The university was enormously displeased with what our findings were and very much hoped we would change them,” Lhamon said. “We did not.”

On Sept. 21, OCR made public a report finding that U-Va. violated federal rules on the handling of sexual-violence issues several times in recent years, failing to provide “prompt and equitable” responses to allegations of sexual assault and allowing a “hostile environment” to exist at some points in time for affected students.

[Federal investigation finds violations at U-Va.]

The report also faulted U-Va. in some instances as not promptly investigating information in cases that involved campus fraternities, and it asserted that the 23,000-student university failed to investigate or determine what happened in 21 instances of alleged sexual assault from 2008 to 2012.

What remains unclear is exactly how the content was revised in the weeks before the final, 26-page report was released. The department provided a 39-page version to U-Va. on Aug. 31 but withdrew it a few days later after the university said it was riddled with inaccuracies. A source familiar with the two versions said the one that was made public focused on events in a narrower time frame, listing fewer supporting examples.

The Post requested OCR’s recent communications to U-Va. under the Freedom of Information Act, but the university has declined to release the Aug. 31 letter.

U-Va. cited exemptions in state law that shield “attorney work product” and presidential “working papers and correspondence” as it withheld certain documents. A similar request for records remains pending with the U.S. Education Department.

OCR has opened dozens of civil rights investigations in recent years related to sexual violence at colleges. Its expansive use of enforcement power under the 1972 law called Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs, is a crucial element in Obama’s campaign to stop campus sexual assault.

As of last month, 146 colleges and universities nationwide were under scrutiny.

Typically, little is revealed publicly about OCR investigations, aside from their official launch and when findings and resolution agreements are released. Documents that The Post obtained from U-Va. and the department provide a rare glimpse of the frictions in the end game of such an investigation.

Begun in June 2011, the U-Va. probe was called a “compliance review.” OCR initiates these investigations when it spots a significant issue. Others are triggered when individual students file complaints.

The U-Va. investigation overlapped with an episode that rocked Charlottesville: an article in Rolling Stone magazine about an alleged gang rape of a U-Va. student at a fraternity house in September 2012.

[Key elements of U-Va. rape allegations in doubt]

The bombshell, published in November 2014, depicted U-Va. as indifferent to the plight of sexual-violence victims, a portrayal the university vehemently disputed.

After The Post exposed serious inconsistencies in the account and Charlottesville police concluded that there was no evidence to substantiate the rape allegation, the magazine retracted the article. But the public relations damage was done.

[U-Va. dean sues Rolling Stone for ‘false’ portrayal in retracted story]

State and university officials were eager to ensure that the OCR report would not subject U-Va. again to unjust criticism.

On May 20, OCR sent U-Va. a draft resolution agreement to address concerns that the investigation uncovered. Separate from a letter of findings, a resolution agreement commits a school to overhaul policies, procedures and training, along with other measures, in order to reduce sexual violence and harassment and improve the response to future cases.

U-Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan, in office since 2010, had repeatedly indicated a desire to update campus safety policies and invest in staff and student training. But before signing the resolution agreement, Sullivan and other U-Va. leaders were keen to know what the findings would be.
Click here for more information!

Their worries grew after a meeting with OCR on Aug. 3. Two days later, the leader of the U-Va. Board of Visitors asked OCR officials to reconsider the direction in which the case appeared to be headed.

“I certainly hope that you will take the proverbial one step back and reevaluate our discussion,” board Rector William H. Goodwin Jr. wrote in an e-mail to the federal agency. “We really would like to resolve our issues, but do not believe we can agree that U-Va. has been a hostile environment.”

Goodwin, a Richmond businessman, declined to comment.

“Hostile environment,” a key term in Title IX enforcement, refers to situations in which sexual harassment — including sexual violence — hinders or prevents participation in an educational program.

For U-Va., a broad finding of a hostile environment on campus would raise uncomfortable echoes of sweeping generalizations about the school’s culture made in the discredited Rolling Stone article. On Aug. 14, McAuliffe raised the Rolling Stone issue in his three-page letter to Duncan.

“I would be remiss not to mention the importance to me and all citizens of the Commonwealth that the University of Virginia be treated fairly after it was so unfairly attacked in the November 2014 Rolling Stone article,” McAuliffe wrote. The governor voiced concern that information gathered before the story was retracted “could have been influenced by the atmosphere unfairly created on campus by that false article.”

McAuliffe has been outspoken on the need to combat sexual violence at colleges, and last year he established a state task force to propose reforms, saying he wanted Virginia to be out front on the issue.

On Aug. 31, OCR sent U-Va. the 39-page “letter of findings.” It caused great dismay in Charlottesville, and university officials voiced concern about the investigation the next day with state legislators. On Sept. 2, Sullivan wrote to the Education Department, saying that the letter was the first time the school had learned specifics despite repeated requests for information.

“I am profoundly disappointed that the letter is replete with factual errors,” Sullivan wrote. “I respectfully request that OCR refrain from publicly releasing its erroneous letter of findings until OCR has an opportunity to consider the university’s forthcoming response.”

That response, which U-Va. declined to release, appeared to have the desired effect.

On Sept. 4, Lhamon wrote Sullivan that OCR was withdrawing the findings and requesting additional information.

Lhamon, in a telephone interview, said she met with Sullivan and other university officials in her office in Washington on Sept. 16 to discuss a resolution. Five days later, an agreement and revised letter of findings were released.

Several references to “hostile environment” remained.

OCR concluded that “a basis for a hostile environment existed for affected students at the university and that the university failed to eliminate a hostile environment and take steps to prevent its recurrence during academic years 2008-2009 through 2011-2012.”

[Colleges often reluctant to expel for sexual violence]

Asked about U-Va.’s battle with OCR, university spokesman Anthony P. de Bruyn said: “Both staffs worked very hard over a period of several months to arrive at an amicable resolution that we believe is in the best interest of both the university community and OCR.”

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said the governor “believes the final process resulted in a fair investigation and a report that identifies a real need for changes in the university’s procedures, but also good progress on bringing those changes into effect.”

Lhamon said she, too, was pleased with the result.

“The most important lodestar for me is that our process is fair and that we protect students,” she said. “We were able to achieve both here.”

On Sept. 30, the U-Va. board’s vice rector, Frank M. “Rusty” Conner III, sent Lhamon a note of gratitude.

“I want to thank you for interceding in our recent compliance matter and demonstrating a willingness to listen, consider our arguments and make adjustments,” Conner wrote in an e-mail. “It was a very difficult process for us and for your staff and I would be happy to reflect upon it with you at an appropriate time so that both of our institutions may benefit.”

Jenna Portnoy and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.


A UVrApe Story You Probably Missed

Article by John Foubert, National President of One in Four, Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs, in the Huffington Post.

On the same day that the American Association of Universities released its long-awaited data about sexual assault on some of their member campuses another critical story was buried beneath the headlines. After a three and a half year battle, several rape survivors along with a tireless and equally talented victim advocate (Wendy Murphy) were victorious over the University of Virginia.

This hard-fought effort to remedy the now substantiated hostile environment toward women at UVa deserves careful attention by everyone affiliated with Mr. Jefferson’s University, and those who might consider whether they or their children should join their ranks. It also deserves the attention of all people of conscience who hope for a better climate at one of our nation’s highest ranked universities.

After a 3 year federal investigation, downplayed as a ‘standard compliance review‘ by UVa’s Dean of Students, damning findings against UVa were leveled by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education. The findings are anything but standard.

OCR ruled that administrators at UVa repeatedly “failed” to respond to Title IX violations (including gang rape) in a prompt and equitable manner. UVa’s “informal resolution” process (which was essentially the mediation of a felony) was found to be inequitable and “structurally flawed.” OCR further chastised UVa for failing to respond promptly to repeated student complaints of sexual harassment by university employees. Yes, apparently university employees sexually harassed students with impunity. Even a case where seven complaints were filed against the same staff member, he kept getting letters suggesting counseling. This leads the observer to wonder if UVa thought a third, fourth, or fifth letter recommending counseling would change the perpetrator’s behavior. Unlikely.

Why should we care about a failure to respond promptly to Title IX complaints? For starters, a complaint notifies a university that an environment may exist on campus that can preclude a person or a group of people from fully participating in the benefits of an education. It also suggests that a person or persons have experienced the kind of horrific violence that leads to PTSD, major depression, and long-term health effects. A prompt investigation is also important given research suggesting that if a man has committed sexual assault, he is likely to reoffend. A university thus has a vested interest in taking swift action to prevent future offenses.

OCR found prompt and complete responses to Title IX violations all too rare at UVa. Sadly, I view this finding as all too preventable. I served as an Assistant Dean of Students at UVa from 1998 to 2002. Part of my responsibilities included leading efforts to end sexual violence. I talked to more students who experienced rape there than I can even count or remember. I set off alarm bells that serious action needed to be taken. Instead of working to end rape at UVa, I repeatedly saw administrators above me blame victims and, do everything possible to sweep cases under the rug. I also heard administrators argue in closed-door meetings that UVa was better off readmitting a serial offender than keeping him away from campus. The reason given? It was more likely he would sue for readmission than a potential sixth victim would find out about the other five women.

[READ MORE: UVa Found In Violation Of Title IX]

It is therefore not surprising that OCR found so much evidence that a deeply entrenched rape culture exists at UVa. OCR confirmed that several female UVa students experienced sexual violence by a perpetrator after a complaint was filed against him. OCR found that UVa did not handle the initial grievance promptly. Instead of a prompt and complete investigation, the university community and several female students were subjected to repeated acts of sexual assault, for nine months.

Ask yourself — how would you feel if your daughter experienced sexual violence at UVa while administrators dawdled around for nine months, not hearing an earlier case against the perpetrator? In an apparent act of willful neglect of their responsibilities, UVa is, in my view, fully responsible (if not liable) for these acts of sexual assault and should do everything in their power to mitigate their effects on the women involved. They must also work to mitigate these effects upon the community.

All of this is deeply disturbing. Yet, there is even more to it. OCR reviewed documentation of 50 incidents where sexual harassment or assault was reported at UVa (through its “flawed” policies) over a few short years. OCR determined that UVa mishandled almost half of the complaints, including 21 sexual assaults, rapes, and gang rapes. Concerns about the reality of gang rape at UVa have risen to the level of confirmation by the U.S. Government. In all of these 21 bungled cases, the University seemingly looked the other way, failing to properly investigate what occurred. One more example of brushing rape under the rug. Ask yourself, do you find this lack of care about the experiences of women at UVa acceptable? Furthermore, is it reasonable for a university to essentially ignore gang rape?

One thing I noticed when I worked at UVa was that men found responsible for sexual assault were rarely sanctioned in a serious way. Educational sanctions, like reading a book and discussing it, were commonplace. This is why I found sad yet unsurprising that a university official, when asked why the University had never expelled a student for sexual assault, indicated that they just never had enough evidence to do so. Really.

That same official was found by OCR to have created a hostile environment by publicly telling the university community that limited sanctions would be imposed for sexual misconduct brought to UVa’s attention. Once again, it certainly sounds like UVa said that rape is no big deal.

If the U.S. government and the Commonwealth of Virginia wish to foster some real change, I suggest they go beyond telling UVa to clean up their act. Instead, put some teeth in place by initiating a moratorium on state and federal funding to UVa until they can demonstrate that their environment is no longer hostile toward women. Others might carefully consider whether their hard earned dollars deserve to be placed into the coffers of a supremely wealthy institution that apparently values women so little. It won’t take losing much from their 5 billion dollar endowment before UVa finally takes rape seriously. From my perspective, it would be about time.


Dept. of Education: U-Va. violated federal rules for responding to sexual violence

We hope that this Dept. of Ed. finding will improve the way the UVA administration treats rape and sexual assault (i.e. never expelling anyone for sexual violence.) We also hope that it provides victims of rape and of the hostile environment perpetrated by Dean Eramo at UVA with a sense of justice.

Washington Post article, written by Nick Anderson and T. Rees Shapiro

The University of Virginia violated federal rules on sexual violence issues several times in recent years, failing to provide “prompt and equitable” responses to allegations of sexual assault, the U.S. Education Department said Monday.

Virginia’s flagship public university fell short in its handling of 22 of 50 reports of sexual harassment from 2008 to 2012, the department said. Twenty-one of those reports alleged “sexual assault, some including rape and gang rape.”

“In all of these cases, the university failed to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred,” a federal civil rights investigator wrote. The department also faulted U-Va. in some instances for not promptly investigating information in cases that involved campus fraternities, and it suggested that the university had not done enough to eliminate “a hostile environment” for some students affected by sexual violence cases.

Those were among the conclusions in a 26-page letter from the department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that wrapped up a four-year investigation of U-Va.’s record on sexual violence. The department also released an agreement in which U-Va. pledged numerous steps to prevent sexual violence and improve case handling. Many of the measures — involving ramped-up policies, staffing and training — already are in motion at U-Va.

[Read the Office for Civil Rights letter to the University of Virginia.]

The end of the OCR probe coincided with the release of a survey on sexual assault at U-Va. and 26 other prominent universities. The survey, gauging student experiences, found that 24 percent of undergraduate women at U-Va. said they experienced sexual assault and misconduct, through force or in situations when they were incapacitated and unable to consent. That was nearly the same as the overall finding for victimization at the 27 schools.

[What a massive sexual assault survey found at 27 top U.S. universities, including U-Va.]

For U-Va., the timing of the OCR report is particularly sensitive. Rolling Stone magazine last fall published an account of a gang rape of a student at a U-Va. fraternity that alleged a culture of indifference to the plight of victims on the Charlottesville campus. The article was later retracted after the gang rape account unraveled, and the magazine’s editors apologized. U-Va. officials, furious at the negative portrayal of their school, asserted strongly that they do not tolerate sexual misconduct and that they fully support students who report violence.

“Harassment and violence in any form have no place in our community,” U-Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said Monday. “Individual cases, which are often extraordinarily complex, can be debilitating and heart‐wrenching for everyone involved. In responding to these incidents, we will continue to provide compassionate support and care to survivors while better ensuring that our adjudication process is adequate, timely, and fair.

“By signing a resolution agreement … we have agreed to take important steps to continue to improve our efforts in this area. We have already implemented many of the measures identified in the resolution agreement, and we will continue to work to strengthen our efforts.”

The department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, Catherine E. Lhamon, praised U-Va.’s response to the allegations: “President Sullivan’s leadership in crafting an exemplary new policy to address sexual violence and sexual harassment and in confirming her continuing commitment to comprehensive work to assure a safe learning environment at U-Va. sets just the right tone for her students, for which I am deeply grateful.”

The outcome of the probe resembled others that have emerged during the past year and a half at universities such as Michigan State, Princeton and Ohio State: Selected findings of failure to comply with the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX, a recital of steps taken to improve or get back into compliance and pledges to do better in the future.

As of last week, OCR said it was reviewing 163 cases at 139 colleges and universities.

The U-Va. investigation began in June 2011, less than a year after Sullivan took office. The only OCR case dating that far back is at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

In the 26-page letter, OCR focused on an associate dean of students, Nicole Eramo, who is widely regarded on campus as a compassionate advocate for sexual assault survivors. The letter said that Eramo helped create a “basis of a hostile environment” through comments she made in September 2014 to a university radio station.

In that interview, Eramo discussed how allegations of sexual assault are handled and the university’s policy on punishment. Without naming Eramo, the letter says she indicated that the university typically does not consider expulsion as a punishment for sexual misconduct, even in instances when a perpetrator admits culpability.

“The radio interview communicates the official position of the university that limited sanctions would be imposed for sexual misconduct brought to the university’s attention,” the letter stated.

A lawyer for Eramo — who filed a lawsuit against Rolling Stone for its depiction of her in the magazine article — declined to comment on the OCR findings.

[U-Va. dean sues Rolling Stone for ‘false’ portrayal in retracted rape story]

Sullivan declined to dispute the OCR findings, but she noted that in general the university has sought to keep up with a “fast-moving” set of federal guidance statements on Title IX.

Asked about the findings on fraternities, Sullivan noted that U-Va. does not own fraternity houses, which she said complicates investigations. Asked about the OCR’s finding of fault in U-Va.’s handling of 22 allegations from 2008 to 2012, Sullivan noted that they were all cases in which students chose not to file a formal complaint or proceed through the informal resolution process.

Some sexual assault prevention advocates have suggested that U-Va. is too lenient toward sexual assailants. Last year, U-Va. officials told The Washington Post that the school had expelled no students who had been found responsible for sexual misconduct during the previous decade. That record contrasted with many who had been kicked out for academic dishonesty or other offenses.

[Colleges often reluctant to expel for sexual violence — with U-Va. a prime example.]

But U-Va.’s disciplinary record on the matter has since changed. Asked whether U-Va. has expelled anyone recently for sexual misconduct, Sullivan told The Post that the answer is now yes. But she declined to elaborate, citing federal student privacy laws.

The resolution agreement, which Sullivan signed last week, notes that U-Va. has taken several steps to improve its response to sexual assault. During the last school year, the university revised its investigation protocols to bring them in line with new federal guidance; it expanded its staff dedicated to investigation and prevention; it launched new training programs for students and employees and campaigns called “Not on Our Grounds” and “Hoos Got your Back.” (The latter is a play on “Wahoos,” an unofficial nickname for students at U-Va.) And it hosted a national conference on sexual misconduct prevention in February 2014.

Letter of Finding from the U.S. Department of Education to the University of Virginia by Josh White


The Solution to Rape? Lock Up the Women

Read this letter written by a UVA student and sorority sister after the ban on Boys’ Bid Night. You go, girl!

Erin Dyer, a sorority sister and a junior at the University of Virginia, wrote this (very lightly edited) piece after she was told that she and other sorority members on campus would not be allowed to attend fraternity parties on Saturday night. It reminded her of the lyrics to a Beyoncé song:

If I were A Boy

“If I were a boy even just for a day…I’d kick it with who I wanted

– Beyoncé

In the past, lyrics like “pretty hurts” and “cigars on ice, cigars on ice” have found little relevance in my fairly average 21-year-old life. Maybe that makes me a loser or maybe it just means I’m not Beyoncé. I am not quite sure. I am sure, however, that when it comes to examining the roles men and women play in our current collegiate society, Queen B has provided the ultimate inspiration.

Leaders from the National Panhellenic Conference, basically the United Nations of sororities, recently sent a letter to every University of Virginia sorority chapter president stating, “We believe the activities on Men’s Bid Night present significant safety concerns for all of our members and we are united in our request that the 16 NPC sororities not participate.”

Because I am a woman and a member of the Greek system at the University of Virginia, I am not allowed to enter into a fraternity house for a celebration of any sort on January 31st, also known as “Boys’ Bid Night”.

If I were a boy, I would have the privilege of existing in whichever space I please on Saturday, January 31st.

Both the national sorority leaders and my own chapter at U-Va. have promised consequences for any individual woman who attends a Fraternity event on Saturday, January 31st. I’m assuming the ‘consequence’ will be something along the lines of you can not attend sorority sponsored parties this spring and you must pay a large fine that will disappear forever into XYZ’s national sorority trove.

As written by my own Greek chapter, “due to national scrutiny, if you attend, you will be put on social probation.”

However, the consequences of banning all Greek women from attending these events stretch far beyond having to miss out on my next date function or paying a large fine to nationals. Endorsed by all sorority chapters at U-Va., this policy promotes a culture that reduces women to objects of sexual pleasure, only useful as subjects of the male gaze and desire.

It is a policy that portrays University of Virginia Greek women as defenseless and all Greek men as dangerous. It is a policy I do not stand by.

As a member of the Greek system, it is difficult to change or even question a policy once it is mandated.

This is not because all members of my own chapter unanimously agree on a policy. This is because if anyone does not enforce a policy, she will face consequences. That’s especially true for officers, who could lose their leadership positions.

For better or for worse, this is how sororities ensure policy adherence and enforcement. They tell us what to do, how to behave, how to best represent XYZ sorority, how to keep XYZ sorority from being held liable for our actions, and we, as Greek women, take notes.

This time I am not taking notes.

University of Virginia Greek women and men will not take notes.

If I were a boy, or better yet, if I were a non-Greek woman, neither my actions nor my words would be silenced by an organization that promotes a policy that disregards gender equality.

I did not join the Greek system to be told I am helpless in the face of ‘boys being boys’.

I did not join the Greek system to be demeaned and penalized for my sex.

I did not join the Greek system to be used as leverage to change a fraternal culture that is now falsely labeled as entirely threatening. I did not join a system that is more concerned about its national reputation in affiliation with U-Va. rather than ensuring all women, Greek and non-Greek, feel safe and supported on university grounds.

If I were a boy, I would not face discrimination against my sex directly from an organization of which I am a member in the year 2015.

My sorority claims it offers “a lifelong opportunity for social, intellectual, and moral growth as [women] meet the higher and broader demands of mature life”.

There is nothing progressive or mature or moral about encouraging women to stay inside of their homes and hide from men.

There is nothing intellectually virtuous about encouraging women to cower and retreat in the face of uncertainty.

Rather, the NPC should use its concern and resources to educate both college men and women about rape culture and how we can all take a stand against it, uniting as one Greek system.

I am not a boy. I am a woman, and today I find myself demeaned.


UVA Sororities Push to Host Own Parties

I think this is a great idea. Women deserve to feel safe when they party.


Audie Cornish talks to Nicolette Gendron, a member of Kappa Alpha Beta Sorority at the University of Virginia and a writer for the C-Ville Weekly. She did a survey of sorority members on campus about how they would feel if sororities were allowed to serve alcohol and host parties under the same rules as fraternities. She says most women, including herself, feel that women would have more control and feel safer from sexual predation if they could host parties in their own houses.


University announces new Fraternal Organization Agreements, lifts social activity suspensions


Sober brothers and guest lists – this is all UVA could come up with? We’re still waiting to hear how UVA plans on dealing with rapists since, you know, they’ve never expelled anyone in the history of ever, including self-confessed rapists, as Dean Eramo kindly pointed out. How is UVA going to deal with that Title IX compliance review alleging that a UVA nurse hid critical rape evidence?
Anyway, please enjoy reading about the pseudo-reform UVA is marketing below.

University President Teresa Sullivan announced Tuesday the immediate reinstatement of all social activities for Greek organizations, a ban instituted Nov. 22.

The agreement stipulates each fraternity and sorority organization must sign a Fraternal Organization Agreement addenda with new safety measures. Each of the four Greek organizations — the Inter-Fraternity Council, Inter-Sorority Council, Multicultural Greek Council and National Panhellenic Greek Council — developed their own regulations, which Sullivan has reviewed and approved. The updated agreements must be signed by chapter presidents or another designee by Jan. 16.

IFC Regulations

The Inter-Fraternity Council FOA addendum includes a host of new regulations for all fraternity functions — including mandated sober brothers at each drink station, a sober brother positioned at the stairs with key access to upstairs rooms, regulations on the types of alcohol offered and the manner in which it is served, and requiring guest lists for all functions.

The regulations apply to all “fraternity functions” — events running past 9 p.m. with more than half the members present. Tier I events include a number of guests higher than the number of members present, and Tier II events have approximately the same number of guests as brothers. To qualify, the event must be “sponsored, organized or hosted” by the chapter, and the regulations do not apply to events “hosted at a third-party venue licensed in accordance with Virginia Law” according to the FOA addenda.

IFC President Tommy Reid said the regulations were developed in conversation with various stakeholders across the University community.

“For the past month and half, the IFC governing board has been in consistent contact with fraternity chapter presidents, members of chapters, fraternity alumni council, and scores of other individual alumni, other student groups at U.Va. — particularly 1 in 4 and the NPHC, MGC and IFC — and representatives from the Office of the Dean of Students,” said Reid, a fourth-year College student. “These improvements to the system are a product of hundreds of conversations with those parties and multiple review processes including active chapter members and alumni and those other student groups.”

Each function must now provide access to bottled water and food. The regulations allow wine to be served if it is poured by a sober brother, and beer so long as it is in an unopened can. The addendum explicitly forbids “pre-mixed drinks and punches.”

All Tier I events must have Alcoholic Beverage Control-licensed bartenders to serve liquor, and Tier II events may only serve liquor if it is maintained at a central bar and overseen by a sober brother. Tier I events also will now have a security agent from an “IFC-approved vendor” stationed at the front door using a printed guest list, and Tier II events must be regulated by a guest list maintained by the fraternity.

Reid said the number and tier of parties held varies widely between fraternity chapters.

In total, the addendum requires each function to have three sober brothers plus one additional brother for each 30 members of the fraternity — and at least three of the sober brothers must be non-first-year students.

“We seek to achieve a safe environment at fraternity events by addressing high-risk drinking, sexual misconduct, and unhealthy power structures,” the IFC addenda reads. “These changes are not comprehensive – nor do they claim to be. Instead, we submit these reforms as the next step in the IFC’s commitment to guaranteeing a baseline of safety for fraternity members and our guests.”

Reid said enforcement of these various regulations will vary, and specific complaints will be investigated and adjudicated by the IFC judiciary committee.

“Fraternities are accountable to themselves, and there will be a monitoring system administered by the IFC,” he said.

The addenda also requires fraternity chapters to register their functions with the IFC by midnight the Tuesday before the event, a change Reid said will allow the IFC to offer better resources to each chapter.

“Under the old system, … the deadline for party registration was not explicit,” he said. “We want to be able to provide resources and assistance to fraternities well in advance of their functions and know the timeline of the events from the weekend. So the registration will allow the IFC to assist better in the management of fraternity events.”

The document also requires fraternities to submit two “risk management plans,” one for daytime events and one for night-time events, which must include provisions for handling emergencies.

The IFC received varied feedback throughout the development of the FOA addenda, Reid said.

“We received suggestions on both extreme poles — many advocated for the abolition of the Greek system altogether, many advocated for no changes,” he said. “We took every piece of advice and suggestion very seriously, and discussed it with fraternity members and alumni and the other stakeholders and developed these improvements to understanding the spectrum of suggestions that were being thrown out all over the place.”

Sullivan, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the administration were “involved collaboratively” in the process, he added.

Reid described the addendum as a “living document,” and said he expects it to change through time as better and more refined policies are developed.

“These improvements are designed to eliminate … levels of risk and guarantee a baseline of safety for everyone that walks into a fraternity house,” he said.

Sullivan said in a University press release that the efficacy of the various safety provisions would be evaluated throughout the spring semester.

Following the events of last fall, Reid said he hopes the new FOAs will help send a message from the University’s Greek community.

“I think all four councils recognized the ability for the entire Greek community across the IFC, the NPHC, the MGC and the ISC to make a collective statement that nobody in our community will tolerate one more sexual assault at U.Va.,” Reid said, “And for the Greek community in its entirety to become leaders on the institutionalization of survivor support and the promotion of active bystanders in the community.”

ISC, MGC and NPHC joint FOA addendum

The Inter-Sorority Council, Multicultural Greek Council and National PanHellenic

Council issued an FOA addendum joint agreement that will require chapters to develop an annually reviewed “council-specific Safety Recommendations document that includes risk management strategies and safe social practices,” the FOA addendum states.

The addendum also states chapters will “incorporate comprehensive Bystander Intervention training, alcohol education, and safe party practices into New Member Education.” The chapters will work with groups such as the Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition, the Office of the Dean of Students and ADAPT to develop these programs.

Plans for the New Member Education program — that can include previously held educational sessions — will be presented by March 13, 2015 while the Safety Recommendations are to be re-evaluated this April, the addendum states.

ISC Safety Recommendations

The Inter-Sorority Council FOA addendum calls for chapter presidents to discuss risk management strategies and be trained in bystander intervention, survivor support and alcohol safety.

“We have reviewed the Fraternal Organization Agreement and identified areas that need improvement and clearer definition specifically for the ISC, and we acknowledge the importance of effective risk management and education, especially for New Members,” the ISC addendum reads.

Sororities must unofficially register mixers with the Vice President of Judiciary, in order to receive support and guidance. Failure to register will result in non-punitive actions, and “the VPJ cannot guarantee that a violation will not be reported or investigated.”

Sorority presidents, risk management chairs and new member educators will discuss risk management strategies for any “event, day, or period of time where high risk factors (such as alcohol, location, time of day) and/or risk behavior have occurred in the past,” according to the addendum, which cites Boys’ Bid Night, Foxfield and Block Party as examples.

A new “ISC Women On Call” system will also be implemented for high risk periods and events. Chapters leaders must sign up for time as the lead contact in the event of an unsafe situation, and their contact information, including phone numbers and emails, will be shared with the ISC community.

Chapter presidents and risk management chairs will also discuss safety at unofficial sorority member-associated events involving alcohol, such as “pre games, birthday parties, and holiday parties.” Following evaluation, presidents “will provide appropriate recommendations … and advice based on ADAPT and Bystander Intervention Trainings.”

The addenda states that chapters must have sober sisters at all social events and include bystander intervention strategies and survivor support training for their annual FOA education presentation requirement.

The ISC will also host a “Something of Value” program, developed by the NPHC, during the Spring semester and update its website to include a link to the University’s “Just Report It” system.

MGC Safety Regulations

Multicultural Greek Council President Allen Au, a fourth-year Commerce student, issued a memorandum outlining increased safety measures, specifically regarding incidents of hazing.

Because MGC chapters lack official houses off Grounds, events are held at third-party vendors or on-Grounds venues that include increased security, Au said.

“In terms of event safety, while that is kind of an issue for all organizations that choose to have events, the [MGC chapter] presidents recognized that it wasn’t as much of a focus for our council,” he said. “Our main focus was on the new member education process and hazing.”

Chapters will be required to provide both the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Multicultural Greek Council president an outline of goals for new member education processes. The memorandum also states that the Council will provide each chapter resources for educating all prospective members on hazing, and will require all to sign a written statement of understanding after reading the materials.

Before new member education processes can begin, new member educators must have attended at least one hazing educational program, and new member educators and respective chapter presidents must meet with the OFSL Council coordinator to discuss safety recommendations, the memorandum states.

NPHC Regulations and Policy Guidance Manual

The University’s National Panhellenic Council released a Regulations and Policy Guidance Manual, detailing official regulations and governing policy guidelines with regard to alcohol, hazing and risk management.

“We didn’t what to solely base our reform on sexual assault,” fourth-year Batten student and NPHC president Julian Jackson said. “What we wanted to address was the entire issue of student safety and how we can better the [entire] Greek system, as well as provide a safer environment for University students.”

According to the document, “all events sponsored by member organizations … in living spaces … are not allowed to provide liquor (hard alcohol) or any variation, including pre-mixed drinks, at any event.” However, beer and wine may be distributed in “living spaces” in closed containers or by a licensed bartender.

Liquor may be served at events located at third-party vendors, provided that the event conforms to member organization fraternity or sorority guidelines and is insured by the organization. Additionally, events located at third-party vendors must include licensed security to check for valid state identification.

Additionally, sponsoring organizations must commit 50 percent of their members to be sober at alcohol-based events. A list of these sober members must be submitted to the Council prior to the event, and members are required to wear identifying gear at the event.

“[The 50-percent rule] was a very large discussion with the Presidents Council and our organization,” Jackson said. “The average size of our organizations is six to eight people, … [so] with smaller councils, it is a lot easier to implement. We wanted to make that a staple reform, one that we have been using, but put it down on paper essentially.”

The manual also requires social events held with other Greek organizations or non-Greek groups to follow NPHC guidelines and the guidelines of the other organization. It also asks that NPHC member organizations refrain from using IFC or ISC houses for social events.

The second section of the document outlines hazing policies and states that all NPHC organizations must submit updated documentation on their hazing policies and practices to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Further regulations also call for an authorized, non-undergraduate member of each representative organization to attend informational meetings targeted toward potential new members. Chapters are required to discuss the University’s policies regarding hazing and pledging activities and their potential consequences at these meetings.

The NPHC has also committed to “hosting extensive New Member Orientations for the Council and [assisting and participating] in New Member Orientations across Councils.” Orientations will include bystander intervention training, survivor support training and risk management strategies, and are mandatory for council members and required annually.

“I think a lot of the reforms are indicative of what is a problem at each Greek system’s council,” Jackson said. “Keeping [reform] separate from council to council really puts us in a good position to be successful and implement a lot of change in the Greek system moving forward.”