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IOWA CITY — In a fall semester already plagued by fraternity-related controversy, the University of Iowa has placed on interim suspension three more Greek chapters accused of alcohol violations — among other things.
Alpha Epsilon Pi, which calls itself the “only Jewish fraternity at the University of Iowa,” learned in October that the UI Office of Student Accountability was investigating allegations the organization on Sept. 18 “hosted an unregistered party involving alcohol, where individuals who were under the age of 21 consumed alcohol.”
The Oct. 8 letter accused the fraternity of alcohol and property misconduct violations, and leadership acknowledged the alcohol offense, according to a follow-up Oct. 21 letter. Given the chapter doesn’t have a history of misconduct, the university imposed a “low tier of disciplinary probation,” including alcohol education, a mandate to host non-alcohol-related events, and probation.
“Sanctions have been designed collaboratively and agreed upon to assist your members in learning and growing,” according to a sanction letter from the UI Office of Student Accountability.
Separately, both Sigma Chi and Pi Kappa Alpha have been accused of hosting an impermissible tailgate his fall, “where alcohol was present,” according to Oct. 12 letters to the chapters.
Both letters note, “The event was not registered with the university, and consisted of individuals from the tailgate publicly urinating near the tailgate.”
“Additionally, loud music could be heard from the event, without obtaining the appropriate permit,” according to the letters to both Sigma Chi and Pi Kappa Alpha. “Your chapter has been specifically notified that events of this type are a violation of policy, and you have been warned that your failure to comply with this expectation would result in an investigation.”
The letter sent to Sigma Chi — an organization just released from disciplinary probation May 2021 for a June 2020 violation — went on to report the university recently was notified the chapter “has been placed on an interim suspension status by your international headquarters due to concerns related to your new member intake process.”
“The university affirms this decision, and will collaborate with your international headquarters to learn the outcome of the investigation and support the imposition of any sanctions, if applicable,” according to the letter. “Depending on the nature of the information that is shared, it is possible that the University of Iowa could impose additional sanctions for the misconduct identified.”
Pi Kappa Alpha also was on social probation through May 2021 for violating COVID rules in fall 2020, according to UI records. And was currently serving a new probation through December 2022 for hazing and alcohol violations in spring 2021.
“Due to the gravity of the report, effective immediately, I am issuing an interim suspension of all operations and activities of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at the University of Iowa pending the outcome of the investigation into the aforementioned incident,” according to the UI letter. “As a result of the interim suspension, at this time the organization may not participate in any University of Iowa or governing council sponsored meetings and programs, social events of any nature, Recreational Services intramurals, Homecoming activities, or other related events.”
The university years ago implemented rules limiting alcohol use within its Greek system — requiring organizations wanting to hold alcohol events to follow strict guidelines involving registration, monitoring, and restrictions on what they can serve, how they can serve it, and when.
Those rules came after UI freshman Kamil Jackowski, 19, died in April 2017 while attending a Sigma Chi event at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The Camden County Sheriff’s Office said he died from alcohol and drugs.
Earlier this semester, the university’s Phi Gamma Delta fraternity incited widespread protests — and vandalism, in some cases — after a UI student went public with allegations brothers of that organization sexually assaulted her last fall, recorded it, and shared it virtually.
UI officials have not shared details of any campus investigation into an incident at the fraternity, which goes by FIJI. And police never filed charges against the accused fraternity members. Although investigators did execute search warrants, according to court documents corroborating the woman’s allegations.
The woman in October filed a lawsuit against the men and the larger fraternity, accusing them of sexual assault and hindering a police investigation.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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