IOWA CITY — Another University of Iowa fraternity joins a growing list of those being investigated and temporarily suspended — this time for allegations of hazing violations.
On Nov. 2, Kappa Sigma brought to 12 the number of temporarily suspended UI fraternities. It was put on hiatus “pending further investigation into violations of university policy due to hazing allegations,” according to UI spokeswoman Anne Bassett.
UI officials declined to provide details of the alleged behavior at Kappa Sigma, which debuted its UI chapter in 1902 and went dormant in 2003 before returning in 2014.
UI Interfraternity Council President Jason Pierce told The Gazette his understanding was that “it was just a really bad situation.”
Allegations involved alcohol use and wall sits — assuming the sitting position with backs against a wall — and other forms of abuse, according to Pierce, who said that “110 percent it’s concerning to me.”
He said he was concerned both about the chapter’s culture and the pledges involved.
“If you care about someone, you don’t want to embarrass them,” he said. “For those who are getting hazed, my advice is that it’s not a place you want to be. Why would a group of friends who supposedly care about you put you in that situation?”
University spokeswoman Hayley Bruce said the UI Department of Public Safety is not investigating any incidents of hazing at this time.
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In October, the university temporarily suspended nine fraternities accused of “blatant and systemic failure” to halt prohibited events with alcohol — a directive the fraternities and sororities received from their leadership after a UI freshman died during an out-of-town fraternity formal in April 2017.
When combined with other fraternities suspended earlier in the semester for alleged alcohol and policy violations, the total under investigation came to 11 — and now to 12 with the Kappa Sigma addition.
The earlier suspensions followed an Oct. 4 warning from Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers over “policy violations and prohibited alcohol use at open events, including tailgates, despite repeated efforts to end this behavior.”
“Since that time,” she wrote in another message the following week, “the severity of the situation has intensified.”
The university last year banned Greek-system parties with alcohol and out-of-town formals after Kamil Jackowski, 19, died while attending a Sigma Chi event at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The Camden County Sheriff’s Office reported Jackowski died from alcohol and drugs.
In a step toward thawing the alcohol freeze, the UI last fall rolled out a “formal and date party pilot” program for the 39 fraternities and sororities affected that permitted chapters to hold one event with alcohol under strict monitoring and guidelines — including the use of wristbands, approved guest lists, and consumption restrictions.
A handful of fraternities and sororities have engaged in the extensive application process and held approved events.
Those suspended fraternities accused of skirting the approval process cannot participate in any fraternity and sorority life meetings, programs, social events, recreational intramurals, homecoming activities or other events pending the UI investigation.
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They also can’t reserve space in campus buildings or outdoor facilities and face a range of outcomes — depending on the result of the university investigations.
Bassett this week said administrators have ended those earlier investigations into fraternity tailgates and other suspected violations of its Greek-system alcohol ban. But most of the 11 fraternity investigations have yet to be adjudicated and resolved, according to Bassett, who said the administration “plans to update individual chapters regarding their chapter’s status in the coming weeks.”
“The university does not have a specific timeline for the final decisions related to the investigations,” Bassett wrote in response to questions from The Gazette.
Pierce said the waiting can hurt chapter morale, hinder the ability to welcome new members and limit Greek-system philanthropic endeavors.
“That begins to start affecting the outside community as well,” Pierce said.
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