UVa president addresses Rolling Stone story
by Carol Thompson
In a “state of the university” address posted online Jan. 30, University of Virginia president Teresa A. Sullivan spoke about the Rolling Stone’s controversial, and now discredited, “Jackie” rape story.
“Before the Rolling Stone story was discredited, it seemed to resonate with some people simply because it confirmed their darkest suspicions about universities — that administrations are corrupt; that today’s students are reckless and irresponsible; that fraternities are hot-beds of deviant behavior,” Sullivan said. “Working together, we have soundly refuted those suspicions through our actions over the past two months.”
Sullivan continued, “The Columbia Journalism Review placed the Rolling Stone story at the top of its list for “the worst journalism of 2014.” The story unfairly maligned UVa and many members of our community. Perhaps the most emphatic refutation of the story’s thesis was the collective revulsion to its allegations expressed by students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni.”
Sullivan said the decision to pause Greek social activities extended the pause that the Inter-Fraternity Council had already initiated. The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity voluntarily surrendered its Fraternal Organization Agreement and an unaffiliated fraternity and unaffiliated sorority voluntarily suspended their own social activities.
“All of us believed that this pause in activity would allow us to work together to improve safety practices, and to bring calm to a very uncertain moment at UVa. Both these goals were achieved. In fact, this effort was already a work-in-progress before the Rolling Stone article came out. I had met with the IFC presidents in October of last year, and they were already working on new safety measures then,” she said.
Sullivan’s remarks were in regard to the Rolling Stone Nov. 19 story authored by Sabrina Rubin Erdely about a woman named “Jackie” who was allegedly gang raped at a fraternity house. Erdely’s story quickly began to unravel as the Washington Post and Slate began to fact check the allegations.
This is the first known time that Sullivan has addressed the Rolling Stone story publicly.