Sunday, November 23, 2014

UVa Closes Frats. Who's Next?

This morning the Inter-Fraternity Council announced that all University fraternities have voluntarily suspended social activities this weekend. This is an important first step, but our challenges will extend beyond this weekend. Beginning immediately, I am suspending all fraternal organizations and associated social activities until January 9th, ahead of the beginning of our spring semester. In the intervening period we will assemble groups of students, faculty, alumni, and other concerned parties to discuss our next steps in preventing sexual assault and sexual violence on Grounds. On Tuesday, the Board of Visitors will meet to discuss the University’s policies and procedures regarding sexual assault as well as the specific, recent allegations.

More from President Sullivan.

The original Rolling Stone investigation.



Late Saturday night 100s of students and proffies marched to the Phi Kappa Psi house.


  1. I was in a frat and it was one of the best parts of being an undergrad. That said, we were on a small campus of a church-related school and our chapter was very much opposed to hazing. We even still had a House Mother. Yeah, we drank too much, smoked stuff we shouldn't have, messed around with pretty girls, etc, but rape? no way. Then I went to grad school at a big state school and HOLY CRAP it was different. I refused to associate with the chapter of my own frat. From what I've seen my good experience was very much an exception. So even as a frat guy I say GOOD FOR YOU UVA! shut them down and salt the earth the houses stood on.

  2. I could pretty much have written MA&M's comment above, word for word. I was in a fraternity. It was a very, very positive experience for me. I'm still in touch with many of the friends I made there. But! I can definitely see this insidious sort of -- well, but it's not even "frat culture," so much as it is just "misogyny culture" that's polluting student life as a whole. I wish I believed that closing the frats would stop it. I imagine it'll help, at least, making it a little less easy to get women alone. But Jesus, it's endemic to the culture, the idea that men have the right to a woman's body just because they *want* it. Pisses me off.

  3. We always get some spam, but today, for this article we've received more than 50 spam comments with links to porn sites, sexual aids, and foreign bride services. The world is sometimes something with which I have grown tired.

  4. The Rolling Stone article is appalling. I remain grateful that my undergrad SLAC did not have frats (because an alum had made a huge endowment on the grounds that frats would not ever be allowed on campus). We had "social clubs" as pale imitations, and though I did join one, I dropped out after my first year and never regretted it.

  5. Indeed. Score one for another endangered-but-necessary-to-a-functioning-free-society institution: long-form investigative journalism.

    Also, good for President Sullivan for taking strong (if perhaps somewhat delayed) action. At least I hope it will turn out to be strong action, and not dramatic window-dressing.

    It's also worth noting that, short of not going to parties at all, none of the commonly-recommended precautions would have saved the young woman who serves as the article's primary example from rape: she wasn't drinking enough to be impaired, and she knew the chief instigator of the attack about as well as a first-year student can know any upperclassperson early in the first semester. I'm sure the author chose her partly for that reason, but the point still bears noting: the issue here is clearly, as others have noted above, a particular kind of misogyny which is perpetuated in some all-male groups, not young women's behavior, dress, or drinking habits. It's also pretty clear that the instigator planned the attack well in advance, and groomed her for her role; that he could do that and remain at the school, continuing to endanger other women and influence other men, is horrifying.

  6. Decades ago, I sat in a meeting with Terry Sullivan and a handful of other people. She was the boss. She had a spine. She was deliberate. She was shrewd. It was not the last time I interacted with her, but my impression of her never changed much.

    That said, if she uses all her political capital, all her skills as a sociologist, all the expertise she's accumulated as an administrator, all her authority as UVA president, and all the luck she can muster, I doubt the culture at UVA will change much.

    I'd like to hope things will change, but hope itself won't do much. Likewise, it matters not one bit whether I hope the price of an ounce of gold will go up or down. In either case, the "market" forces are just too extensive and too strong.

    I'd also like to simplify the world in such a way to distinguish between good and evil people--and to promote the good ones. But there is no divine I-Thou just around the next corner. Humanity is what it is.

    Bystander interventions, the Campus SaVE Act, professional development, prayer, hope, Take Back the Night, candlelight vigils, and on and on and on and on and on. The horrors will continue regardless.

    And yet tomorrow I am going to continue to struggle to make my college a better place. I am a goddamned fool. I am a goddamned fool.

    Fuck it.

    1. We do not need hope in order to persevere.
      William of Orange (I think)

      I've always liked that quote - it fits my no-good-deed-goes-unpunished philosophy. Sometimes I think the only thing that keeps me going is sheer bloody mindedness.

      Well, that and the scotch.

    2. Carry on, Bubba. It may be quixotic, but these little shits (and, even more so, those who are hovering on the brink, not quite sure whose example to follow) especially need to hear from other men that this is no way to be a man (which is not to say that there isn't a pretty wide range of other acceptable options, but that's the point: they need to hear from men who express their own masculinity in a variety of ways that this isn't one of the options).

      I'm also cheered to hear good things about Sullivan. I like what I've seen of the woman, but it's all from a distance. From what I've heard today, closing all the frats for a little over a month (part of that break) is apparently seen in some quarters as pretty drastic action.

      P.S. Good to see you (and your horse) around these parts again.

  7. For struggling to make your institution a better place? No, you are not a goddam fool. People who do that are the only reason that anything ever does get better. Carry on!

  8. I could only make it about one-third of the way through the Rolling Stones article. Too much rage building too early in the day...

  9. The worst part of that article is that her three friends talked her out of going to the police or to the hospital. What kind of friends would do that? And why would she listen to them? I do not understand valuing your reputation more than your own physical health.

    Fraternities can be a positive experience for students. Many of my freshmen students are interested in joining. But we are a dry campus, so no alcohol-fueled parties. Mostly the frats and sororities build leadership skills and do a lot of volunteering and civic service. Frats seem less dangerous on small campuses; frightening stories like the Stone reported seem to always take place on large campuses.


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