There still may be important changes coming to significantly improve college campus security across the country in spite of the unfortunately careless Rolling Stone expose about an alleged gang rape in a University of Virginia fraternity house.

There was an immediate rush to believe the lurid allegations in the article, probably because the University of Virginia, an academically excellent college, also has an unfortunate reputation as a major party school. The alcohol-drenched fraternity culture along the Rugby Road fraternity row has been the scene of excessive partying and underage drinking that is often viewed with a kind of bad-boy pride.

Rolling Stone is now under criticism for not conducting simple, basic journalism for a story apparently too good to fully report. It did not try to find the alleged perpetrators of the violent rape or to question the fraternity where the crime was supposedly committed. Rolling Stone has apologized for its questionable judgment, but may never fully recover from this violation of journalistic ethics as the story disintegrates.

And that guilt smears all journalists and, more importantly, has been a disastrous disservice to all other women who will be sexually assaulted but find suspicion and little sympathy from police and university officials. Not that there was much sympathy for them before on college campuses all across the country.

In recent years, the curtain has lifted and we have been able to look beyond the facade of major institutions — colleges and universities, the military, the clergy, athletic teams, Greek letter societies — that have worked hard covering up criminal violations to protect the institution and not the individual.

In a television interview in the days after the Rolling Stone story broke, a University of Virginia female dean was asked how the university could severely punish a student for cheating on a homework assignment in violation of the university's so-called honor code, but would allow an admitted sex offender to escape with a reprimand. She responded that in admitting the sexual crime, the student's honesty deserved some sympathetic consideration.

Vice President Biden revealed a chilling statistic early this year when he said: "One in five of every one of those young women who is dropped off for the first day of school, before they finish school, will be assaulted in her college years."

That's not something any parent wants to hear, but it is a warning to parents sending their daughters off to college that campus administrators are happy to get the tuition money, but seem less interested in keeping a student safe, no matter how much they protest otherwise.

I have a daughter who graduated from the University of Virginia, and although she is chagrined after reading the Rolling Stone article, she has fond memories of her four years in Charlottesville. She said she never knew of something like that happening, but was well aware of the excessive drinking along Rugby Road and often went to fraternity parties. She pointed out that she was there in the 1980s when women were relatively new on what had been a male-only university.

I am pleased that neither she nor her two siblings, who went to other universities, ever joined a Greek letter society. I made a mistake of joining a fraternity as an undergraduate, and even though the fraternity I was in was not an "animal house," and was more academically oriented, it still succumbed to frat boy juvenile behavior and underage drinking. I also engaged in drinking when I was underage.

It isn't surprising that now that the Rolling Stone article is disintegrating that the national fraternities and sororities are pressuring the president of the University of Virginia to lift the suspension of the campus Greek letter societies she imposed through the rest of the year to enable campus officials taking a look at the sexual assault allegations and the fraternity culture. She undoubtedly is also under intense pressure from powerful alumni.

It is usually the well-to-do alumni at the University of Virginia and at other universities who are quick to excuse questionable behavior and underage drinking as some kind of youthful hijinks. But University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan has shown the kind of fortitude and courage not often seen in college presidents and other administrative officials.

She is ignoring the pressure and in responding to it said she is going ahead with plans to increase campus security and reform the fraternity culture to change the alcohol abuse on campus and prevent sexual assaults. The Rolling Stone story may have been careless, but it is forcing colleges and universities to pay more attention to illegal drinking and criminal behavior. It may actually be the impetus for long-delayed, necessary reforms.

Conconi is a veteran Washington journalist and the host of the Internet public affairs program Focus Washington.