Education

Six University of Iowa fraternities appeal alcohol sanctions

UI Dean of Students has 10 days to uphold decisions or reverse course

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/file photo)
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/file photo)

IOWA CITY — About half the 11 University of Iowa fraternities sanctioned last month following a campus investigation into alcohol and hazing violations have appealed, UI officials told The Gazette on Tuesday.

The group of reprimanded fraternities — including four that were stripped of their campus recognition and student organization benefits — had until Friday to fight the decisions. All three of the chapters deregistered for alcohol violations appealed.

Kappa Sigma’s Beta-Rho chapter at Iowa — the fourth deregistered fraternity, but the only one punished for hazing violations — did not appeal.

Another three of the fraternities investigated for alcohol violations and placed on probation — a less-severe admonishment that serves as a sort of warning — also appealed.

Five of the six appellants submitted the necessary paperwork Friday — the deadline. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon colony, which was in the process of re-establishing itself after being ousted six years ago, appealed the day before on Thursday.

The university’s student discipline appeals process gives the UI Dean of Students 10 days from the date of appeal to decide whether to affirm the original decision, reverse it, or remand it back with instructions for further investigation, according to UI policy. Grounds for appeal include allegations the decision was unsupported by substantial evidence; it was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, or constituted an abuse of discretion; the sanction was unreasonably harsh or lenient; the university didn’t follow proper procedures; or new evidence became available.

The university didn’t immediately provide The Gazette with the written appeals or reasons the fraternities gave for appealing.

The three fraternities fighting deregistration include the Sigma Alpha Epsilon colony, Delta Chi, and Sigma Nu. Fraternities appealing their probationary status are Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, and Beta Theta Pi.

A student organization on probation is considered not to be in good standing, and if that group or its representatives violate any institutional regulations during the probationary period, the university can institute more severe sanctions.

The university temporarily suspended about a dozen fraternities in the fall based on administrative suspicions of “blatant and systemic failure” to halt prohibited events with alcohol — a directive Greek chapters received from their leadership more than a year earlier after a freshman died from drug- and alcohol-related causes during an out-of-town fraternity formal in April 2017.

Kappa Sigma was added to the suspended list later following allegations it hazed pledges by, among other things, forcing them to binge drink, participate in a violent ritual called “the gauntlet,” and endure abuse, including having hot sauce sprayed in their eyes.

UI administrators announced the results of their investigation into the alcohol and hazing violations — and the resulting sanctions — on Dec. 13, the day after the Kappa Sigma International Fraternity voted to revoke the charter of the UI chapter.

Two of the originally-suspended fraternities were not sanctioned in the end, as the university failed to find a preponderance of evidence they committed violations.

The UI deregistrations affected a total 430 students. Should the UI Dean of Students uphold the removal of those fraternities from campus, they must stay away for at least four years. After that time, they can ask to be recognized again.

Members of the affected fraternities have not responded to outreach from The Gazette. In handing out the suspensions, though, the university warned members that in some situations “speaking about an investigation or finding, or about the parties involved, can lead to a counter or subsequent complaint of harassment or retaliation.”

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“University policy prohibits retaliation against individuals who file complaints and against those who participate in complaint investigations,” according to a UI notice of suspension.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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