Education

4 fraternities out at University of Iowa

Investigation confirms hazing, alcohol violations

The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa on Thursday stripped four fraternities of their campus recognition and student organization benefits after an investigation confirmed hazing and alcohol violations.

One of those, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, was in the process of re-establishing itself after being ousted six years ago,

Also losing student-organization status are the Kappa Sigma, Delta Chi, and Sigma Nu fraternity chapters — affecting 430 students in all.

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Earlier this year, the 2018 pledge class of the newly-defunct University of Iowa Beta-Rho chapter of Kappa Sigma were told to sit in a room stacked with hard liquor, cases of beer, and bottles of wine and finish it in short order, according to documents provided by the university to The Gazette.

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Failure to comply with the UI directive would result in a violation of the student code and bring disciplinary action against individual students, although the chapters could still appeal.

“Parents and families send their loved ones to the UI with the expectation that their safety, health, and well-being will be the top priority,” UI President Bruce Harreld said in a statement after administrators met with the fraternities. “These decisions honor that expectation.”

The Kappa Sigma International Fraternity recently voted to revoke the charter of the Beta-Rho Chapter, and the UI yanked its student org status after an investigation confirmed violations of both UI and international fraternity policies on alcohol and hazing.

That fraternity, which debuted its UI chapter in 1902 and went dormant in 2003 before returning in 2014, recently was added to an original list of 11 temporarily suspended fraternities put on hiatus this fall for alleged alcohol violations at tailgates.

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The university hasn’t released details of the hazing accusations, but UI Interfraternity Council President Jason Peirce previously told The Gazette his understanding was that “it was just a really bad situation” and was “110 percent” concerning.

The university’s removal of Delta Chi, Sigma Nu and Sigma Alpha Epsilon stemmed from their violations of UI policy and a fraternity and sorority organization moratorium enacted last year after the alcohol-related death of a UI student at an out-of-state fraternity event.

Despite the restrictions, UI Police Chief Jody Matherly told The Gazette his officers this fall started noticing tailgate parties getting “really out of control.”

“It was, ‘What is going on here? Holy cow,’” Matherly said.

Ambulance calls to tailgates and arrests prompted Iowa City police to reach out to the university.

“Once we found out that possibly fraternities were involved, we did notify them to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got some issues here,’” Matherly said, noting his department draws the line at egregious public safety violations.

“When those parties start to get out of control, we need to get a grasp on it,” he said. “I suspect we saved a lot of grief from parents having kids go to the hospital, because that’s what was starting to happen.”

Results from investigations into other temporarily suspended fraternities under the Interfraternity Council umbrella varied:

l Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Chi: The UI investigation did not find a preponderance of evidence to hold the chapters responsible for the allegations.

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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.

After its removal from the UI for hazing and behavioral issues in 2012, Sigma Alpha started a “colony” — part of the process for getting back on campus, said UI Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers.

Fraternities removed from campus must stay away at least four years, after which they can ask to be re-recognized as a student organization.

The accused student organizations can appeal the UI decisions in writing to the Office of the Dean of Students.

“Our mission at the UI is the success of our students, and we haven’t made these decisions easily,” Shivers said. “We will not allow the positive impact of most of the community to be overshadowed or undermined by the actions of a few. Any chapter that refuses to abide by policies will not have a place on this campus.”

The Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council in May 2017 enacted a ban on events with alcohol and out-of-town formals following the student death. Shivers said the UI administration has spent more than a year working to support the system.

It helped roll out a pilot program allowing fraternities and sororities in good standing to apply to hold up to three events with alcohol per semester, as long as they complied with strict guidelines and monitoring. Several have taken advantage of that.

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“We have worked hard over the past 16 months to ensure the future success of the Fraternity and Sorority Life community by working to continue having conversations about strategies to help reduce underage or harmful alcohol consumption, providing a structure for successful social events, and rewarding chapter compliance,” Shivers said.

With this week’s changes, the university has 27 registered fraternities and 23 registered sororities with more than 3,500 students involved overall.

Students affected by the deregistration include 144 in Kappa Sigma, 88 in Delta Chi, 95 in Sigma Nu and 102 in Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Because the houses are privately owned, Shivers said, the university is limited on what happens with them.

 

Previous fraternities removed by the UI:

l Sigma Alpha Epsilon in 2012 for behavioral issues;

l Pi Kappa Alpha in 2000 for drug and alcohol issues;

l Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) in 2005 for alcohol issues;

l Delta Tau Delta in 1999 for drug and alcohol issues;

l Delta Upsilon in 2008 for drug issue and low membership.

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