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IOWA CITY - Earlier this year, pledges to the University of Iowa Beta-Rho chapter of Kappa Sigma were told to sit in a room stacked with liquor, beer and wine and drink it up promptly, university documents show. Most of those pledges were underage.
The new members were subjected to assaults in a hazing ritual called 'the gauntlet” and ordered to a late-night event to have hot sauce squirted in their eyes.
The chapter was one of four the UI deregistered Thursday after investigations confirmed hazing and alcohol violations. Those violations continued, the investigation found, long after the fraternity and sorority council cracked down on alcohol use following the death in April 2017 of first-year UI student Kamil Jackowski at a fraternity formal at the Lake of the Ozarks.
This week's ouster of the four fraternities, and disciplinary actions against several others, is a low point that could lead to necessary improvements, Interfraternity Council President Jason Pierce said Friday.
'It's a time to realize that the behavior that was going on before is not something that can continue,” he said.
Details of the Kappa Sigma hazing were included in a Nov. 2 letter to the chapter from the Office of the Dean of Students. The UI released it Thursday evening.
According to the letter, 'the gauntlet” ritual involved 'physical assault with the use of body slamming and forcing members to fight through a wall of fraternity brothers.”
Pledges would land in the gauntlet if they didn't comply with requirements of an alcohol-fueled challenge of carrying a book about the fraternity without putting it down.
On Nov. 2, pledges were ordered to arrive at 1:30 a.m. for 'activities and events including squirting hot sauce into new members' eyes.”
The event was just hours before the UI suspended the chapter while its probe continued.
Among other violations, the letter also cites a chapter-hosted private party held Oct. 11 at the Union Bar - despite not being approved under a pilot program that allowed alcohol only under strict rules following the 2017 student death.
On Sept. 11, the letter said, Kappa Sigma also provided wristbands to potential new members to attend a 'Friday After Class” event known as 'The Jungle” at the Summit Bar.
Kappa Sigma this week became one of the four fraternities stripped of campus recognition and student organization benefits.
Also losing its student organization status was Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which was in the process of re-establishing itself after being ousted six years ago when its national headquarters suspended the chapter and expelled its members over hazing and other violations.
And also ousted this week for alcohol violations stemming from tailgate parties were the Delta Chi and Sigma Nu fraternity chapters.
The de-registrations affect 430 students in all.
The UI also disciplined several other fraternities, but did not strip them of their student org status:
l Acacia, Beta Theta Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Pi: The UI placed them on probation, which also brings a written admonishment and the possibility of more severe discipline if violations continue.
l Phi Delta Theta: The UI placed the chapter on deferred suspension, which means the sanction does not go into effect as long as the organization complies with requirements for a certain period.
The accused chapters can appeal the UI decisions. Fraternities removed from campus must stay away at least four years, after which they can ask to be re-recognized.
Pierce, the Interfraternity Council president, said the impacted fraternities should not have been surprised by the administration's actions - as UI coordinated its response with the national organizations, which are facing similar problems across the nation. It could even prove to be a turning point that could lead to more recruitment, he said.
'We are at a critical junction … to make a change that can be beneficial.”
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