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National

After Rape Scandal, University Of Virginia Reworks Relationship With Frats

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's turn to another college campus struggling with difficult questions. Yesterday, the president of the University of Virginia canceled a speech to the National Press Club. She stayed home to prepare for a talk with students. Teresa Sullivan is promising to fight sexual assault on campus. That comes after a Rolling Stone magazine report on alleged rapes at UVA fraternities. Sandy Hausman reports from our member station WVTF.

SANDY HAUSMAN, BYLINE: The university's president had planned a holiday reception at her home this Thursday. Instead, Teresa Sullivan says the event will be repurposed into a discussion of sexual assault. She told students that the school is drafting new operating agreements with its fraternities, contracts that may prohibit hard liquor.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TERESA SULLIVAN: Serving sweet-tasting but high-proof punches to women while the guys sip a few beers is often described as a prelude for taking advantage of the women. But even an alert and careful student who tries the sweet-tasting cocktail that has many types of liquor cannot know how much alcohol it contains.

HAUSMAN: And, she said, they can't tell if a date rape drug has been added.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SULLIVAN: Let's call this by its name. This is poisoning, and it should be legally prosecuted as such.

HAUSMAN: Sullivan made clear that she did not intend to close fraternities, arguing most members are, quote, "good and decent people who are just as horrified as we are about these disgusting allegations and revelations." Will Cadigan is a member of One in Four, a men's group that works to prevent sexual assault on campus and advocates for victims. He heard the president's speech and said he thought the guys at his fraternity and others would welcome reforms.

WILL CADIGAN: Fraternity people know that there need to be changes. And now more than ever, I think people will be more willing to accept these changes.

HAUSMAN: He also supports new programs to encourage reporting of sexual assault and training of bystanders to step in when they think a student may be in danger. Additional changes may come in mid-December when the university's governing board meets to discuss how it can make college life safer for students. For NPR News, I'm Sandy Hausman in Charlottesville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.