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The next chapter

With the reinstatement of Phi Kappa Psi, we must continue to uphold due process and survivor support

Phi Kappa Psi fraternity became the first to sign a new Fraternal Organization Agreement Jan. 8, after the Charlottesville police department concluded there was no substantive evidence to corroborate the allegations of a gang rape at the fraternity two years ago.

Though the police department has yet to close its investigation, it seems as though this latest development is one of multiple indications that the story surrounding the Rolling Stone report is coming to a conclusion of sorts. Greek social activities are no longer banned, on the condition that Greek organizations abide by new safety regulations.

For a police department even to investigate a rape case without a complainant is uncommon, but the high profile nature of this case encouraged the investigation to proceed anyway. Multiple media outlets had already suggested the allegations against Phi Kappa Psi were false, so their reinstatement does not come as a surprise. But despite many conclusions that Jackie’s story was completely fabricated, many in the University community are open to the possibility that some elements of her story are genuine, even if she was mistaken about the fraternity house she was taken to the night it occurred.

Though this seems to be somewhat of a conclusion in this saga, the unconcluded story of Jackie’s trauma, as well as the sexual assault reports of 28 other University students which never resulted in complaints last year, are reason to worry there is still a threat somewhere in this community. The uncertainty is all the more reason to continue improving the infrastructure of our community, to increase safety and support survivors.

We may or may not get more answers in the coming weeks. What we can be certain of is this: there is no justice in a case which accuses a party that did not commit the crime in question. Phi Kappa Psi was undeservingly condemned and threatened by a community which did not wait until the facts of the case were investigated to issue judgment. But due process must work for both parties — accused and complainant. The community is only made safer if the correct offender is apprehended. But there have been cases where the justice system has failed rape victims in unacceptable ways.

The fundamental importance of due process and the growing support for sexual assault survivors are not mutually exclusive, as many suggest. Improvement on both fronts is possible.

Cooperation with an investigation is an important part of due process, and Phi Psi’s cooperation provides an example of how all parties in a case can facilitate the search for the truth, and for justice. Phi Psi’s name has now been cleared in the national spotlight, but only time will tell whether the reputation of the entire Greek system will change.

Going forward, we hope that all fraternity men, as vital members of this community, will participate in the movement against sexual violence. President of Phi Kappa Psi Stephen Scipione acknowledged in a press release that this incident has “opened our eyes to the problem women like Jackie face.” This story is far from over; this event marks only the close of a single chapter.


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