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IOWA CITY — University of Iowa administrators since August 2020 have had more than a dozen interactions about violations with the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at the center of campus protests and vandalism in recent weeks – but none of those interactions have had to do with allegations of sexual violence.
Rather, documents requested and obtained by The Gazette show the UI Office of Student Accountability by Oct. 6, 2020 had received three to four complaints in the span of five weeks accusing the fraternity – known as FIJI – of violating a COVID student agreement by hosting parties.
UI investigators that month found FIJI responsible for impermissible gatherings and social events in September 2020, and they imposed education- and service-related sanctions to be done by the end of the fall 2020 semester.
Upon issuing the findings, UI administrators immediately lifted an interim suspension for the violations. And they removed the restriction barring FIJI from hosting or co-hosting social events at the end of the fall 2020 semester — even though FIJI didn’t accomplish its sanction requirements on time, the records show.
In January, weeks after FIJI was supposed to have completed the conditions of its sanctions, UI Office of Student Accountability Assistant Director Anita Cory sent the fraternity an email seeking confirmation it had conducted the required educational programming; held a personal protective equipment drive and posted social media messaging about COVID-19 precautions.
FIJI leaders did not confirm completion at that time, according to emails, which showed the group was allowed to continue operating as if it had.
On Aug. 10 — months later and two weeks before the start of a new fall semester — Cory again reached out to FIJI seeking the information.
“We had an email exchange back in January, but I don’t see anything after that,” she wrote to FIJI executives. “Perhaps the chapter’s sanctions have been completed, but documentation hasn’t been submitted.”
A FIJI official — whose name was redacted in the emails — responded two days later saying he thought he filled out the forms after the spring semester. “But I guess I did not, my apologies,” he said, adding, “We did complete our sanctions.”
A UI check of that assertion, though, showed FIJI hadn’t done what was actually required. It had offered members educational programming, but not the kind it was supposed to.
Ten days later, on the fist day of the fall semester, FIJI sought help coordinating compliance. And on Aug. 30 — while a petition circulated across campus accusing FIJI brothers of sexually assaulting a woman in September 2020 and calling for its ouster from campus — a FIJI executive told UI officials it had finally had engaged its members in the required COVID-19 discussion, nearly a year after the violations had occurred.
Cory confirmed receipt of the compliance and advised the FIJI executive, whose name was redacted from the records, to complete a form documenting it.
The following night, over 1,000 protesters rallied outside FIJI — some of them breaking windows, throwing eggs and rocks, spray painting walls and overturning a car — demanding accountability for allegations of sexual violence at the fraternity. They criticized the UI for not doing more to hold FIJI accountable and accused Iowa City police of failing to follow up on evidence of the sexual assault.
Iowa City police received a report of a rape at FIJI on Sept. 10, 2020, according to court records showing investigators collected evidence supporting allegations that two fraternity members sexually assaulted a woman Sept. 5, 2020, recorded the attack and disseminated it online.
An online petition accusing police of failing to prosecute the men has more than 151,400 signatures so far. Police and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office released a joint statement seeking the public’s help “in further investigating a sexual assault alleged to have occurred Sept. 5, 2020 at the Iowa Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) fraternity.”
UI officials did not immediately answer The Gazette’s questions about why it allowed FIJI to transition off probation without completing its sanction requirements for the pandemic violations.
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