Two holdout U-Va. fraternities sign on to new party rules, but blame ‘coercion’

Posted at 12:17 AM, Jan 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-17 23:42:10-05

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The two fraternities, Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha Order, at the University of Virginia that had said they would not sign a new agreement on stricter rules for parties--did so by the Friday deadline after all.

The two fraternities say that they "reluctantly" signed under pressure.

Signing the new agreement means they will abide by new rules the university instated following a tense discussion over sexual assault and binge drinking at fraternities, sparked by a now-discredited article in Rolling Stone magazine depicting a gang rape at one fraternity house.

In the article, a then-first-year named Jackie described a brutal gang rape by seven members of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at UVA in September 2012, but the Charlottesville police have since said that there is no indication that Jackie was raped at the fraternity house, as alleged.

Two days after the article came out in November, but before it was widely criticized for factual errors, UVA suspended all fraternities and sororities, allowing them to reopen social activities in January only under the new terms.

Those new safety measures include having security at parties, sober brothers, keys to each room, monitors at the stairs and eliminating pre-mixed drinks. But Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha Order released statements on their national fraternity letterhead stating they would not sign the new agreement.

Late Friday, up against the deadline, they relented.

"It is extraordinarily disappointing to see a university of this caliber sacrifice the ideals of freedom of association and due process on the altar of public opinion," the chapters said in a joint statement. "The University has made it clear in writing today that our organizations will remain suspended if we do not sign the new FOA immediately and have rejected our requests for an extension to continue discussing our concerns."

All of the university's 31 Greek organizations have now signed the agreement. Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity slammed in the article, was the first to sign, the university said.

Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha Order said in the joint statement that they will keep fighting the new rules.

"The fact that our chapters are signing the [agreement] does not alleviate the coercion, duress or other wrongdoing of the University through this entire process. Given the University's poor handling of this matter, we are now exploring the right to pursue any legal remedies."

While police have seemingly cleared Phi Kappa Psi, they have not ended their investigation. They have also not said if they believe Jackie may have been raped elsewhere.

Rolling Stone apologized for the inaccuracies in the article, which was written by freelance journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and launched an investigation of its own. The magazine editor acknowledged that the writer didn't contact some of the witnesses, and none of the accused.