UVA President Outlines Series of Changes in Letter to Parents

The letter is the most detailed account from Teresa Sullivan so far.

December 8, 2014, 9:29 PM

— -- In a letter to parents today, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan outlined a series of changes at the school in the wake of a Rolling Stone story about sexual assaults -- but at the same time also stood up for the embattled university's staff.

"The Rolling Stone article, in my opinion, unfairly maligned a number of dedicated professionals who work for the University," she wrote in what is the most detailed account given by Sullivan so far.

"I have noted in particular that our students immediately reached out to our Student Affairs staff with expressions of support. I can vouch for the fact that this staff has worked tirelessly to provide for the welfare of all of our students."

At the same time, Sullivan added, "Even though the facts in the Rolling Stone story are in dispute, sexual misconduct does occur and it has no place at our University. We will continue our efforts to improve our policies and practices, to support survivors with counseling and in other ways, and to rigorously examine our culture and climate. Survivors will continue to have support through our student life and counseling professionals. I have named an Ad Hoc Group on Campus Climate and Culture; this group consists of two Board of Visitors members, one dean, four students, two faculty members, two alumni and two parents. We will be working with our Board to examine what changes might be beneficial."

Meanwhile, the woman who claimed to have been a victim in the story, called "Jackie," has hired an attorney after details of her story about being gang raped by seven men at a fraternity party in September 2012 were questioned, Washington Post reporter T. Rees Shapiro told ABC News today.

This after Rolling Stone on Sunday clarified its earlier statement that said it regretted agreeing not to contact Jackie's alleged assailants, removing a line that said it had come "to the conclusion that our trust in her [Jackie] was misplaced."

The revised statement from managing editor Will Dana instead said, "These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie."

As Rolling Stone's statement shifted over the weekend, a woman claiming to have been Jackie's former suitemate described in a student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, how Jackie’s personality darkened after the alleged assault. She said Jackie would stay curled up in bed as her alarm rang rather than going to class and spent her days watching increasingly bleak TV programming before abruptly departing for her family home.

In her letter, Sullivan said Greek activities have been suspended until Jan. 9.

"My decision to suspend fraternity and sorority social activity for the remainder of the year came after UVa’s Inter-Fraternity Council suspended its activities for the weekend of Nov. 21 and after the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter at UVa voluntarily surrendered its own Fraternal Organization Agreement with the University," she wrote. "I remain sensitive to concerns about broadly indicting the entire Greek system. As I said in an address earlier this month, in any crisis it can be far too easy to paint with a broad brush, and to blindly attack entire groups of individuals. This is not a responsible reaction. Our fraternities were terribly distressed by the allegations in the article, and they are working with us toward solutions."

Some of the other changes, she said, include increased police presence, a group of unarmed security personnel called "Ambassadors" and a new proposed policy on sexual misconduct that takes into account new federal mandates.

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