Jan 302015


Thursday, January 29, 2015

She speaks in “we”s.

“We have an appointment tomorrow.”

“We were at the hospital for 19 days.”

For the last year, Tommi Galaska’s “we” has often been her and her son, Reddick, 9, who was diagnosed with lymphoma last February — going to doctors’ offices and then to scans and blood tests, into the hospital and to surgery and then to chemotherapy and back again.

Her “we” has also come to refer to what she calls her second family — the people at the children’s hospital at Vidant Medical Center where she and Reddick have spent weeks at a time in the last year — doctors and nurses and hospital staff, the children and their families, and the mothers.

Galaska — a jazz teacher in East Carolina University’s dance department — created her latest piece, “The Lullaby,” with those mothers in mind. The piece is part of the school’s annual performance, “Dance 2015,” which opened Thursday and continues through Tuesday. It features eight dances that include ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, modern and tap.

“The Lullaby” has been one of the most challenging undertakings in Galaska’s career, both technically and emotionally.

“I’ve never used film or projection, ever, so that was a huge element. As far as that goes, it’s probably a bigger step for me than anything I’ve ever done. It’s definitely the most emotional thing I’ve ever done, and the most meaningful to me.

“I tried my best not to do this piece, but it’s where I was. I had to say it. I had to show it. I had to do that for the other moms. It’s just about all those mothers out there who struggle and who do this and how strong they are.”

The piece — jazz mixed with contemporary — features Megan Rhodes as the mother. Six others play the forces that cause the confusion, anger, fear, sadness and exhaustion as they carry and pull and drag her in every direction while she struggles to keep it together.

“It’s about a mother’s struggle with having a child in need,” Galaska said. “I tried to keep it open so the audience could relate their own stories to it, but I think it does have really strong elements of having a sick child.

To create the piece, Galaska went back through pictures and notes she had made of their journey, which began with a stuffy nose and antibiotics that mysteriously didn’t do the trick. Swollen lymph nodes were initially treated with steroids, which solved the problem but not the cause, and the swelling returned two weeks later.

“(The doctor) looked at it and said ‘wait just a minute,’” she said. “And he was gone forever. And I just knew. I just knew. I knew right then. I just knew, ‘He is going to tell me my child has lymphoma.’

“He came in and he said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do. I’ve made an appointment. I just talked to an oncologist,’ and I about threw up. He said, ‘Tomorrow I have you for a CT scan of the neck area and the oncologist wants to see you on Thursday.’”

Two days later, after reading the scan, the oncologist had Galaska’s son admitted on the spot, saying he had either lymphoma or leukemia.

“We never even left. I didn’t have anything with me,” she said. “They admitted him immediately and took the lymph node right then and there. We were in surgery by 4 o’clock.”

They spent that Thursday and Friday in the hospital and went home for the weekend while they waited on test results from the lymph node.

“Sunday they called me and said it was T-cell, non-Hodgkin lymphoblastic lymphoma,” she said, “and they said ‘We want you back here tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock.’

“We had surgery Tuesday and they immediately put in the port. He had chemo immediately.

“That’s what this piece is, it’s the journey of hearing, ‘you have either lymphoma or leukemia’ and the walk, walking into the hospital, and it all started — the whirlwind.

“You feel like your life is spinning around you — the way things were and the way you thought it was going to be, and then how things completely come to a halt and change. How you’re scared and how you’re trapped in four walls at the hospital. How you want to scream and cry and have a fit and how you can’t do any of those things because the priority is to make sure that your child is OK and that he feels safe.”

All the while, she said, she has battled with the dilemma of how to be a mom to her other two sons while they’re at home and she’s at the hospital.

Galaska pulled those emotions from her personal experience and chose Rhodes — a double major in dance and acting — to portray them.

“I chose her because I knew it would take an actress to be able to handle it,” Galaska said. “With her professional acting training, it was clearly the right choice. Not only is she a great dancer, but the acting element is something that was needed.”

She also spent time discussing her reasoning within the piece with all of the dancers.

“I pushed them into a place that at their age, they should not know anything about,” she said. “I’ve asked a lot of them. I continued to work when he was diagnosed, so they were informed throughout. It wasn’t really difficult to get them there (emotionally). They went with me. It has truly taken them into a place that’s new.”

Galaska brought Rhodes to the Vidant children’s hospital outpatient facility, where she and her son spend a considerable amount of their time, a place that seems almost idyllic from her description of it, except for the reason for being there.

“I did take my lead dancer there, just so she could see,” she said. “I wanted her to see that this is where we live. The rooms are beautiful. The nurses are fabulous. It’s very spacious. There are huge windows that you can see outside.

“Every day, I’d open those windows and say, ‘That’s where we want to get. That’s where we want to get. We want to get back out there.’”

Jan 302015


Jimmie Richard Grimsley

Dr. Jimmie Richard Grimsley, 70, passed away Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at home. The funeral service will be conducted Saturday at 11:00 am at Wilkerson Funeral Home officiated by Dr. Scott Connor. A graveside service will be held after the service at Evergreen Memorial Garden in Wilson, NC. Jimmie was born on July 17, 1944, in Wilson County, where he grew up on a tobacco farm. After graduating from Saratoga Central High School in 1962, he attended East Carolina University on a football scholarship. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees from East Carolina, he attended the University of Georgia where he earned his Doctorate in Education. His entire career was spent at East Carolina University, beginning as a Graduate Assistant and culminating as an Associate Professor Emeritus in the College of Health and Human Performance. Early in his tenure at ECU, he served as Tennis Coach and Soccer Coach. One of the most important things about his job was working with and advising students. He always made himself available to assist students and they often sought him out long after they left East Carolina. Jimmie also was very active in the community, serving on numerous Boards, including Pitt County Educational Foundation Advisory Board, the Greenville Babe Ruth Board of Directors, the Greenville Little League Board of Directors, J.H. Rose Athletic Foundation, Bradford Creek Golf Advisory Committee, and the Paramore Homeowners Association Board. He was a founding member and former President of the Pitt-Greenville Hot Stove Baseball League. Jimmie was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, teacher, mentor, and friend. He loved his job, loved working with ECU students and advisees, and loved going out to watch a baseball game. He was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church and was a loyal East Carolina Pirate, serving as official clock operator for both Pirate football and basketball games for over 40 years. As involved as Jimmie was in the Greenville and East Carolina community, nothing gave him greater joy than spending time with his four grandchildren and watching them play on a baseball field or soccer field. His grandchildren knew him as Pop and their love for him was evident each time they saw him. Jimmie is survived by his wife of 48 years, the former Barbara Jean Harrell of Saratoga; daughter Susan Grimsley Stephens and husband Brent of Winston-Salem, and their sons Luke Thomas and Matthew Jacob; son Jimmie Richard Grimsley, Jr. Richie and wife Ashley of Cary, and their daughters Alissa Blake Ali and Brooke Harper; sister Dorothy Ann Harrell Dotsie of Wilson; mother-in-law Ida Rose Harrell of Saratoga; sisters-in-law Mary Harrell McGee and husband Jim of Asheville and Betty Harrell Wooten and husband John of Wilson. He was preceded in death by his parents Johnie James and Flora Hardison Grimsley; brothers Edwin Earl Boody Grimsley, Joseph Wayne Swag Grimsley, Johnnie William Dokey Grimsley, and Donnie Hugh Grimsley; and a sister, Ruby Christine Mutt Hayes. The family will receive friends Friday evening from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Wilkerson Funeral Home, Greenville. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made payable to the ECU Foundation Jimmie R. Grimsley Scholarship Fund, c/o Tammy Garris, Greenville Centre, Room 2211, ECU, 2200 South Charles Blvd., Greenville, NC 27858 or The Pitt-Greenville Hot Stove League, c/o Chuck Humphrey, 1317 Sonata Street, Greenville, NC 27858. Online condolences at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com
– See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/reflector/obituary.aspx?n=jimmie-richard-grimsley&pid=174009973&fhid=8067#sthash.mNRTRIe6.dpuf

Jan 302015


January, 29, 2015

Durham, N.C. — A 911 call released Thursday reveals that a date-rape drug was initially thought to be involved in a suspected rape involving a Duke University fraternity and a student who reported being assaulted after attending a party earlier this month.

“She woke up around noon today,” the caller says in the Jan. 9 call requesting a Durham police officer come to Duke University Hospital’s emergency room. “We don’t know when the assault happened, because I am pretty sure, presumably, there were presumably drugs – date-rape drugs or whatever you call – involved. She has no idea.”

Police have not commented on the investigation, but search warrants indicate the student attended the off-campus party, at 2505 Chapel Hill Road, on the night of Jan. 8 and that an Alpha Delta Phi member gave her a drink that she thought to be hot chocolate.

She awoke the next afternoon, dressed only in a T-shirt and unable to remember what happened after the drink, according to court documents.

She then went to Duke Hospital, where a medical examination found evidence of sexual activity.

The 911 caller – whose identity was redacted from the recording – tells the emergency dispatcher that the student has bruises and scratches on her legs, arms and back as well as a bruise on her forehead.

Search warrants indicate that police appear to be focusing their investigation on at least one fraternity member with whom the female student was seen leaving the party early on Jan. 9.

Authorities, however, have not made any arrests in the case.

Duke University, which temporarily suspended Alpha Delta Phi, has declined to comment on the investigation, saying only that officials are cooperating with police.

Jan 302015


By Jay Price
January 29, 2015

DURHAM — A Durham County Superior Court judge decided Thursday that Duke University will have to hand over hundreds of additional documents to plaintiffs in the 4-year-old medical research fraud case centered around the now-discredited work of Dr. Anil Potti after attorneys for patients who are suing the university accused its lawyers of withholding key emails.

Eight patients or their estates are suing Duke, Potti, and several university researchers and administrators. Duke has consistently said that even though the science was bogus that the health care the patients received was of high quality and proper for their illnesses.

Potti, then a researcher at Duke, claimed to have discovered genetic markers in tumors that could determine what cancer drugs might work best for a given patient. In 2007, Duke began enrolling cancer patients in clinical trials to test the idea. Eventually more than 100 lung and breast cancer patients were placed in three studies.

Duke shut the studies down in 2010 after years of questions from outside scientists who couldn’t reproduce Potti’s results, and after he was found to have falsely claimed to be a Rhodes Scholar.

The first lawsuit, filed by the husband of a patient named Julie Jacobs who died in 2010, had been expected to start this week, but Judge Robert C. Ervin postponed it after the plaintiff’s lawyer got the flu.

It’s unclear now when the civil trial will begin, but after a closed-door conference Thursday afternoon, attorneys in the case said it may be put off until late summer. Trials in the other patients’ cases are expected to come afterwards.

Lawyers on both sides clashed Thursday over whether Duke’s attorneys had properly determined which emails to turn over.

Duke’s attorneys retrieved about 2,500 that were found to contain more than one of an array of search terms, then examined them for relevance to the case. But after receiving those that made the cut, plaintiffs’ attorneys later found others that they said appeared vital to their case, and said that called into question the integrity of Duke’s methods.

Jacobs’ attorney, Thomas Henson, said Duke should simply give him the remainder of the 2,500 emails since it would be expensive and difficult to properly train a neutral third party in what to look for.

Duke’s lead attorney, Mark Anderson, responded he didn’t have any problem with that, but would need permission from his client, Duke, since some may contain private information unrelated to the case.

Ervin ruled that Duke should give all that it could directly to Henson, and those it was worried about for reasons of privacy could be vetted by a neutral third party that he would appoint.

Jan 302015


By Wallace McLendon

January 29, 2015

When James Taylor sang, “In my mind, I’m going to Carolina,” I knew where he was going. I knew where I was going – to the large oaks and poplars, the steps of Wilson Library, the Bell Tower, the inspired classroom and, unapologetically, the Dean Dome and Kenan Stadium.

In the past, wherever I traveled, when I mentioned that I went to school at Carolina, I received positive replies that usually began with “excellent school” and ended with “gorgeous campus.” Some replies were based on facts and experience while many were just impressions. Those introductions were an invaluable beginning to friendships as well as to many business and professional relationships.

At the University of Florida, a fellow faculty member shared, “Florida wants to be like the University of Georgia, and the University of Georgia wants to be like UNC-CH.” It made me wonder who or what UNC-Chapel Hill wanted to be like.

At the University of Pennsylvania, a prominent faculty member walked into my office and exclaimed, “My daughter just got in to Carolina, and she is so excited!” He himself levitated off the floor.

Now when my mind goes to Carolina, it gets lost on the way. I no longer recognize the “spirit” of the school, and neither do new friends and acquaintances. The cumulative actions of UNC-CH leaders represent the opposite of open, honest, purposeful integrity required to build and maintain a premier academic institution. UNC-CH leaders seem to be in the hands of “handlers” – as in contracted lawyers and public relation firms.

And regardless of intentions, it is now clear that UNC-CH leaders underestimate the power of impressions and appearances. I stood in my driveway, unwrapping and scanning the newspaper, and wanted to cry out when I read that UNC-CH has hired yet another $950-an-hour law firm without a cost ceiling to be paid for from development funds made up of donations to UNC from people like you and me. And we thought we were feeding students and helping them with tuition and the cost of textbooks?

And then in the Sports section, I read that the football program hired a defensive coach with a murky and questionable past – vetted, yes, but remember the power of appearances.

Halfway up my drive, I stopped and asked out loud, “Is anyone in charge? For God’s sake, is anyone charge?”

To those who rationalize this dysfunction by saying, “I do not envy being a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill administrator these days,” I would respond both from mind and heart that I cannot think of a more satisfying and significant contribution a person could make to the state, nation and world than to be a Carolina leader – to grow and maintain the hearts and minds of our daughters and sons.

And if UNC-CH leaders think these are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures, I would suggest that they take the UNC-CH course on the history of North Carolina. (I have a rib that remembers when a National Guardsman whose squad was trying to move protesting Carolina students away from Lenoir Hall during the Vietnam era “nudged” me with the butt of his rifle when I was just trying to go to English 101.)

And now that I read that Tom Ross, president of the UNC system, has been dismissed by the Board of Governors by those lacking the courage to explain the reasons behind their decision – by those who disrespected the intelligence of the people of North Carolina by being dishonest hoping that no one was paying attention – my positive memories of Carolina erode further.

If the University of Florida wants to be like the University of Georgia, does the University of Georgia still want to be like UNC-Chapel Hill? And who and what does UNC-CH want to be?

It is time to take back UNC-CH before the handlers and the anti-intellectual politicians have Frank Porter Graham and Bill Friday pleading from the heavens, “Is anyone in charge? For God’s sake, is anyone in charge?”

Wallace McLendon of Chapel Hill is a retired librarian who holds a BA in English (’71) and an MSLS from the School of Information and Library Science (’76) from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Jan 302015


By Douglas Belkin
Updated Jan. 29, 2015 8:34 p.m. ET

Dartmouth College is banning hard alcohol from its campus and putting its notoriously rowdy fraternities on notice that they need to reform or disband, in the latest move by an elite school to crack down on a party culture that has been closely tied to sexual assault.

Dartmouth President Philip J. Hanlon on Thursday delivered a speech to faculty and students in which he laid out his plan to deal with a rising tide of complaints that have tarnished the reputation of the New Hampshire school, which has 4,289 undergraduates and weighed on new applications at a time when most Ivy League schools are soaring in popularity.

“There are high stakes for Dartmouth,” Mr. Hanlon said in an interview Tuesday. “This is a small, intimate place—so when a student harms another student or themselves, it really tears this place apart.”

Casey Dennis, a senior and the student body president, said even though hard alcohol is a problem on campus, especially among freshmen in the dorms, he was a little concerned about how the ban would be implemented because “hard alcohol is usually kept in private places.”

Earlier this month, Brown University banned booze in fraternities and announced plans for a comprehensive review of its alcohol policy this spring as part of the school’s “intensified efforts to prevent and address sexual assault.”

The University of Virginia this month restricted hard alcohol at fraternity parties following a Rolling Stone article about a gang rape at a fraternity party. The article later was discredited.

And at the start of this academic year Swarthmore College banned hard alcohol from campus events, as well as drinking games and drinking paraphernalia in an effort to create “a comfortable and coercion-free atmosphere,” according to the school.

Once dominated by wealthy white men, the student bodies at colleges and universities nationwide are now nearly 60% female and 40% nonwhite, and some students believe institutional norms haven’t kept pace with the changing demographics.

The failure of schools to properly handle sexual assault investigations began to surface about four years ago after the Obama administration issued aggressive new guidance on how schools should handle sexual violence under Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination and mandates that schools are responsible to handle cases in a “prompt and equitable” manner.

The Justice Department is currently investigating nearly 100 schools—including some of the nation’s most prestigious—for improperly handling complaints.

Dartmouth’s fraternity row has long been associated with the bawdy culture that is now the focus of attention. Fraternity brothers and alumni say the clubs are a source of pride, as well as academic and social support, during and after college.

Nationally, membership in fraternities and sororities is at record levels.

For decades, faculty requests to close fraternities and rein in the drinking culture at Dartmouth went unheeded. They took on added gravity, however, when a series of sexual assaults preceded a 14% drop in applications two years ago.

Last April, Mr. Hanlon said “enough was enough” and created a task force to oversee changes.

“Move Dartmouth Forward,” is his 6-page plan that contains a series of directives largely absent of detail. It calls for a four-year sexual violence prevention education program and a “consent manual,” which is to include “realistic scenarios and potential sanctions to reduce ambiguity about what is and what is not acceptable.”

The mandate echoes a California law passed in September when it became the first state to enact a so-called yes-means-yes rule during consensual sexual activity. The law calls for “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” that is “ongoing through a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.”

The plan also requires bouncers and bartenders to be present at social events and calls for the creation of a code of conduct that will outline student behavior to classmates, including civility, dignity and diversity. The hard alcohol ban, which targets liquor that is 30 proof or higher, is set to go into effect on March 30.

Moreover, all residential student organizations will be required to undergo an annual review to demonstrate they are promoting inclusivity.

“If in the next three to five years, the Greek system does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, and we are unsuccessful in sharply curbing harmful behaviors, we will need to revisit its continuation on our campus,” Mr. Hanlon said.

Mr. Dennis, the student body president, said: “Dartmouth has taken several punches and there have been a few periods of unease and tension on campus in the last couple of years so I think some sort of change needed to happen.”

Jan 302015


JAN. 29, 2015

With colleges under growing pressure to reduce alcohol-soaked student misbehavior, Dartmouth College said Thursday that it would ban hard liquor on campus, going beyond the changes that all but a few of its peers have been willing to make.

Dartmouth has had a string of embarrassments involving binge drinking, and it has hardly been alone. The sexual assaults, fraternity hazing and hospitalizations that have rocked campuses around the nation have often involved extreme intoxication, like the case of the former Vanderbilt football players convicted this week of raping an unconscious woman, or that of a Stanford swimmer accused of rape this week.

But if Dartmouth is drawing a line in the sand, it will have little company on its side. Many campuses, most of them with religious affiliations, have long been completely dry, but only a handful of colleges and universities that once allowed hard liquor have tried to ban it. Despite Dartmouth’s prominence as a member of the Ivy League, experts say not to expect many institutions, if any, to follow its lead.

“I think you’re going to continue to see smaller efforts to step up enforcement, but not a lot of big statements like this,” said Kevin Kruger, the president of Naspa, a national association of student affairs professionals in Washington. He expressed some skepticism about the new policy, saying that while hard alcohol played a particularly destructive role, the root of the issue was that for a majority of college students, “they’re under 21 and it’s illegal to drink, period.”

Philip J. Hanlon, the president of Dartmouth, has warned of the damage done to the college and its reputation by serial misconduct, and on Thursday, he announced a far-ranging overhaul of campus life. It is possible, he said, that individual fraternities, or even the Greek system as a whole, will be banished. But it was a new rule that was not proposed as hypothetical — the prohibition on hard alcohol in the spring — that drew the most attention and most sharply divided opinions on campus.

Jake G. Rascoff, a senior, said there was no denying that abuse of hard alcohol posed a serious problem, but that banning it would be ineffectual.

“It will increase the incidence of surreptitious binge drinking and increase the risk of binge drinking off campus, which will lead to drunk driving,” said Mr. Rascoff, who is an executive editor of The Dartmouth Review. If the college is to ban hard liquor, he said, it should ease limits on the amount of beer and wine at fraternity parties and relax penalties for violating alcohol rules.

But Chester Brown, a senior who is president of the Beta Alpha Omega fraternity, said that while “the ban will create a pretty significant shift in the way that we operate,” and many will object, on balance he favored it.

“It’s important to recognize that the alternative here is abolition of the Greek system,” he said.

In recent years, a small number of colleges, including Bowdoin, Bates and Colby, have adopted hard-alcohol bans similar to Dartmouth’s. (At the University of Mississippi’s main campus, the situation is reversed because of local laws: Beer is forbidden, but not stronger drinks.) A somewhat larger number, including Stanford, Colgate and Swarthmore, have banned hard liquor in certain places and at certain kinds of events.
Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Brown University last week announced a review of its alcohol policy, prompted by reports of sexual assaults at two fraternity parties. The university banned one fraternity from campus for four years and placed the other on probation.

But the rules about alcohol are just one factor in a college’s atmosphere and reputation. Pennsylvania State University has a fairly strict alcohol policy, including a prohibition in residence halls, yet it is routinely rated as one of the most raucous party schools in the country. Some universities have strong policies but lax enforcement, and at many of them, fraternities own their houses and the land beneath them, putting them out of reach of college policy.

Dartmouth has the advantage that its fraternity houses sit on college property, and geography may provide another advantage. The college’s isolation in west-central New Hampshire means there are few nearby options for off-campus imbibing, and its hometown, Hanover, has a reputation for serious enforcement.

Enforcement is a challenge anywhere, said Mr. Kruger of Naspa, but “on an urban campus, it’s impossible.”

The measures Dr. Hanlon announced Thursday in a speech on campus had been expected and were based largely on the work of a panel he created nine months ago to review campus life.

As of March 30, when the spring term begins, Dartmouth will prohibit any liquor on campus that is 15 percent alcohol — barely more than most wine — or more. Dr. Hanlon said the college would increase penalties for providing alcohol to minors, but the details of that, and the penalties for violating the hard-liquor ban, remain to be worked out.

College officials cited the prevalence of “pregaming,” getting drunk before a party, and conceded that cracking down on such private drinking would be harder than policing parties.

Dartmouth will draft codes of conduct, not only for individual students but also for fraternities and other groups. Dr. Hanlon said that he was not inclined to get rid of Greek organizations, but that they “must and will be held to much higher standards and a far greater level of accountability.”

“Organizations that choose not to fulfill these higher standards will not be a part of our community,” he said. “And if the Greek system as a whole does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, we will revisit its continuation on our campus.”

Greek houses dominate Dartmouth’s social scene. More than half of its students join fraternities and sororities, and other sites for gatherings are limited. Dr. Hanlon said the college would build new spaces for social events, providing an alternative.

He praised the Greek system for the steps it has recently taken — like ending the pledge period in which members are admitted on a probationary basis, which critics say amounts to an invitation to hazing, and requiring each fraternity or sorority house to have active faculty advisers of both sexes. Dr. Hanlon said those changes were now college policy.

Starting in the fall, incoming Dartmouth students will be placed in one of six clusters of dormitories and will stay in their assigned clusters through their college years. Each “residential community” will organize social events and will have some resident faculty members and graduate students. The system, much like those used at Yale, Harvard and elsewhere, is an attempt to foster communal ties.

“I loved the residential life proposals,” said Catherine Donahoe, the social chairwoman of Dartmouth’s Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority. But, like other students, she had conflicting views on hard alcohol, saying that it posed a problem but that she feared a ban would drive it underground.

“If I were to design the policy, it’d be pushing alcohol into the open so that it’s as visible as possible,” she said.

Jan 302015


By Susan Svrluga
January 29 at 2:04 PM

National sorority leaders are standing by their decision to keep University of Virginia sorority members away from fraternity parties Saturday night for their own safety.

This weekend will be a big one at U-Va., with fraternities celebrating their new members on Saturday night, an annual tradition known as Boys’ Bid Night, and the most important home game of the year for the undefeated men’s basketball team. After a traumatic fall semester and a temporary suspension of all Greek activities, many students are ready to get back to normal.

But at a campus in the midst of a wrenching debate about sexual assault, drinking and party culture, it can be hard to find “normal.”

National sorority leaders sent a letter to University of Virginia chapters earlier this month urging all members to avoid bid-night events, setting off an intense backlash from students who said the idea was demeaning to women, contrary to the school’s tradition of student self-governance, and dismissive of the efforts the campus community had put into new rules to make fraternity parties safer for everyone. A petition quickly got more than 2,000 signatures and the student council passed an emergency resolution asking the national leaders to talk on Friday afternoon to try to reach a compromise.

On Thursday, a student council leader received an e-mail politely declining the offer, with a note that each national president was “working individually to continue dialogue with the members of our organizations.”

The national sorority presidents offered this response Thursday:

“As a follow-up to the letter dated Jan. 20, 2015, encouraging UVA sororities to plan alternative events to fraternity bid night activities, the Presidents of the 16 inter/national National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organizations have issued the following statement:

“While we value the input our chapter leaders have to offer on this important and ongoing dialogue, our members’ safety and well-being must remain our top priority. That is why we stand by the collective decision of our 16 Inter/national Presidents, which supports an existing NPC policy that our organizations will not participate in men’s bid day activities on any campus. Per our members’ request, we will engage directly with our respective chapters to address their concerns and move forward from here.”

Some students said their sorority chapter presidents had heard from the national organizations Wednesday and Thursday. A senior who requested anonymity because her sorority does not allow members to talk with the news media said she had a better feeling about the whole situation now, after being told “that because each sorority is enforcing the policy differently and may not have received clear communication, that is causing some of the fear that our individual rights are being attacked.”

She still disagreed with the idea “that for our own safety we should stay inside,” but she felt the national leader was “coming from a good place and wanting to keep its members safe.”