Two UVA Fraternities Agree to New Greek System Rules After Initial Refusal

Concerns that the new policy creates new liabilities for fraternities.

ByABC News
January 17, 2015, 12:00 AM

— -- Two University of Virginia fraternities are now agreeing to a new policy governing Greek life that was announced by President Teresa Sullivan last week in the aftermath of an alleged campus rape controversy.

Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha had initially refused to adopt the new regulations, saying they posed a liability for their members. The two groups then agreed to the new Fraternity Operating Agreement on Friday, the Associated Press reports.

Greek organizations had until Friday to sign the new agreement. If they had not agreed, the university would not officially recognize them as parts of the Greek system.

On Tuesday, the two fraternities initially released identical statements, saying "The University violated the previous FOA as well as student individual and organizational rights. The system-wide suspension, which was initiated for reasons that were found to be untrue, unfairly punished all members of fraternities and sororities," referring to the suspension implemented after a now-discredited Rolling Stone article reported a horrific gang rape at a fraternity house.

"It was maintained and used as leverage to require the changes to the FOA. Because we do not accept the validity of a suspension imposed in contravention of the existing FOA, university policy, Virginia law and the constitutional rights of our members, we are not compelled to sign a revised FOA to continue operations on campus," the statement added.

Kappa Alpha Order's own risk management policies "are as strict or more strict that this new FOA," the fraternity said, also raising concerns that the new policy "may create new liability for individual members of our organizations that is more properly a duty to be borne by the university itself."

The university's new policy requires beer to be served in cans, fraternities to register their functions with the Inter Fraternity Council by 11:59 p.m. on the Tuesday before an event and "sober monitors" on hand wearing a designated identifier for all official chapter gatherings. These monitors will also be responsible for pouring wine if that is to be served, according to the new policy.

The new rules were announced as part of the process of restarting Greek activities after the school was rocked by the Rolling Stone article, which described a culture of drinking and sexual abuse at UVA.

UVA announced on Monday that the local Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter -- the focus of the discredited Rolling Stone article -- has been reinstated, effective immediately.

"The reinstatement resulted after consultation with Charlottesville Police Department officials, who told the University that their investigation has not revealed any substantive basis to confirm that the allegations raised in the Rolling Stone article occurred at Phi Kappa Psi," the university said in its statement on Monday.

The Charlottesville Police Department investigation into the incident remains open, police Capt. Gary Pleasants previously said, and will be "completed in a couple of weeks and the department will put out a report."

"The CPD is not saying something didn't occur," Pleasants said. "They found the incident did not occur at that fraternity. The Charlottesville Police Department is still investigating the incident as reported to see what, if anything, may have occurred and where it may have occurred."

A Rolling Stone spokeswoman said last month that its own internal review of the story was continuing. But the magazine backed away from key points after acknowledging that the author did not contact a key person in the narrative at the request of the article's central figure, rape victim "Jackie."

"We remain hopeful that all groups will commit to these reasonable protocols designed to improve student safety," university spokesman Anthony de Bruyn told ABC News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.