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University of Virginia reinstates Greek social life, but with new rules

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(CNN) — No more pre-mixed drinks. Security at the doors. And sober brothers at every event, guarding the stairs and with key access to each room.

Those are some of the rules that fraternities will have to abide by if they want to throw a party, the University of Virginia says.

UVA shut down Greek social life on November 21, two days after the publication of a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article about an alleged gang rape in a fraternity house on the Charlottesville campus.

The article’s credibility aside, the university acknowledged this week that it needs to evaluate a broader problem, and said the Greek life “pause” was intended to allow leadership to work on improving safety at fraternity and sorority events.

Reinstatement comes with a stipulation that each Greek organization agree by January 16 to new rules — devised by UVA’s Greek leadership councils — for university social events.

Among them are requirements that at least three members of a fraternity be “sober and lucid” at each fraternity function, and at least one of the “sober brothers” have key access to every room in the fraternity house during the party, according to the document.

Also, pre-mixed drinks or punches are prohibited from fraternity parties. Beer and wine must be opened and “poured visibly at the bar by a sober brother.” And security officers must be hired to monitor the entrance at parties where there are fewer fraternity members than nonmembers.

“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,” UVA President Teresa Sullivan said in a press release.

Accusations and contradictions

“A Rape On Campus,” the 9,000-word article by Sabrina Erdely in the November 19 issue of Rolling Stone, initially garnered widespread, mostly sympathetic media attention.

In the article, a woman identified only as Jackie, claims that she was brutally raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house, while two more gave encouragement, during a party on September 28, 2012, while she was a freshman.

Within days, critics began to question some of the story’s details, as well as Rolling Stone’s decision not to contact the alleged attackers.

The Washington Post, CNN and other news outlets followed up, identifying a number of contradictions and discrepancies.

Two of Jackie’s friends told CNN that numerous details of the alleged attack as related by Rolling Stone were entirely different from what Jackie told them that night. And they said that, while it seemed clear that she had been traumatized, they saw no injuries consistent with an attack as vicious as the article describes.

Nonetheless, one of the two friends said, he “didn’t have any doubts” that the version she told him at the time was true.

Phi Kappa Psi said that the man Jackie claimed had lured her to a dark room was never a member. It also cited records showing it did not have a party on the night in question, and said its house doesn’t have a side staircase — important because Jackie described descending such a staircase as she left, bloodied and broken.

“It’s not part of our culture. It’s just not true,” said the fraternity’s attorney, Ben Warthen.

On December 5, the magazine published an editor’s note that said “we apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening” in late 2012 when the alleged attack occurred.

The magazine admitted that Erdely had not contacted the man who Jackie claimed orchestrated the alleged attack, nor did she contact any of the men she said were participants, fearing that they would retaliate against her.

Erdely had told the Washington Post that she stood by her story, but she has not spoken publicly since Rolling Stone’s apology.

Police are continuing to investigate the allegations, and a state investigation of UVA’s treatment of sexual assault allegations is ongoing.

Students return from winter break this week, and classes begin Monday for the spring semester.