Fraternities at the University of Virginia can get their parties started again with the blessing of the school’s president after a semester of blistering criticism over campus sex assaults. But they’ll have to do it without kegs.
Greek organizations have until Jan. 16 to agree to new drinking rules as a condition for ending a temporary ban on social activities, which UVa. President Teresa A. Sullivan imposed following a November Rolling Stone article describing a campus culture that fosters violence against women.
That article — which focused on an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house in 2012 — was later discredited by the magazine’s editors, but campus and fraternity leaders have been under pressure nonetheless propose reforms.
The new rules were proposed by the fraternities and approved by Sullivan. Among them: Kegs of beer and pre-made mixes of liquor and punch will be banned; beer must be served in closed cans, and “wine may be served upon request, poured visibly at the bar by a sober brother.”
The university also is taking other measures including opening a police substation near off-campus bars, improving the university’s lighting and camera system, and hiring additional counselors and trauma experts.
“I believe the new safety measures recommended by the student leaders in the Greek community will help provide a safer environment for their members and guests,” Sullivan said in a statement late Tuesday.
Organizations representing sororities also agreed to safety measures, such as “bystander intervention training” for new members.
Most of the rules are aimed at making it easier for students to know how much alcohol they’re consuming and more difficult for someone to slip incapacitating drugs into the drinks of unsuspecting guests.
“Even an alert and careful student who tries the sweet-tasting cocktail containing many types of liquor cannot know how much alcohol it contains,” Sullivan told students in December. “Yet another problem with alcohol is that it can be the vehicle for some other drug to be ingested, unknown to the drinker. Let’s call this by its name: This is poisoning.”
The Intra-Fraternity Council said in an addendum that “these changes are not comprehensive — nor do they claim to be.”
“We seek to achieve a safe environment at fraternity events by addressing high-risk drinking, sexual misconduct, and unhealthy power structures,” the addendum says. “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.”
The spring semester begins Monday, with Greek social events to recruit new members starting shortly thereafter.
There is also no mention of underage drinking or how to prevent it in the agreement. Sullivan has previously said about that half of the incoming students already drink when they arrive on campus, the vast majority of them too young to do it legally.
Other rules call for at least three sober fraternity brothers to monitor alcohol distribution and the stairways to residential rooms at each party. At large parties, a hired security guard must monitor entrances, keeping out anyone not on a printed guest list. Fraternities will also be required to have bottled water and food available.
The rules were slammed on the school newspaper’s website Wednesday as either the beginning of the end for Greek social life, or far too weak to prevent sexual assaults. Some said Sullivan should apologize to fraternities, while others said she should have been far more forceful. One writer said “none of these new rules are enforceable in any practical sense.”
Fraternity houses are privately owned and the new rules make no mention of independent or university-provided monitors. “Fraternities are accountable to themselves, and there will be a monitoring system administered by the IFC,” the council’s president, Tommy Reid told The Cavalier Daily.
“Should violations be brought to the University’s attention … the Dean of Students Office will investigate, and any appropriate next steps would be based upon the details of each case,” in accordance with the law, UVa. spokesman Anthony P. de Bruyn said in an email to The Associated Press.