More University of Iowa Greek chapters disciplined for breaking COVID rules

IOWA CITY — As this pandemic-plagued semester wraps, a handful of University of Iowa fraternities and sororities are completing sanctions leveled for violating a COVID-19 student agreement and rules that muted the Greek-life experience.

Several chapters have been ordered in recent weeks to conduct educational programs for members; run personal protective equipment drives; and share social media messages about the importance of flattening the coronavirus curve — after holding or participating in events and gatherings that violated policy by lacking masks, social distancing and other mitigation measures.

Some have been put on disciplinary probation through the end of the academic year or longer, including the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, which was reported twice this semester for COVID-19 violations and now faces the threat of suspension, which would deregister it as a sanctioned student organization.

“In considering the severity of the sanction, I have considered the fact that Pi Kappa Phi was previously disciplined for violating the COVID-19 student agreement,” Angela Ibrahim-Olin, UI assistant dean and director of student accountability, wrote to the fraternity earlier this month.

“The chapter must modify its behavior, or face the possibility that they will not be a registered student organization due to their inability to follow the health and safety protocols established by the university.”

Pi Kappa Phi, which founded its Iowa chapter in 2005, had 20 to 30 people at its 332 Ellis Ave. house late Sept. 24 into early Sept. 25 without masks or social distancing, according to university documents.

Its reprimand required educational programming, a PPE drive and social media message. But before the deadline for completing those sanctions even arrived, the fraternity again was accused of violating student organization regulations and the Code of Student Life on Oct. 3 with another social gathering.

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The chapter is accused of failing to uphold aspects of the COVID-19 student agreement when it had about 30 men and women in the house.

“This is the same night police responded to your chapter’s property due to a disturbance outside involving glass bottles being thrown at the dumpster,” according to the investigative summary noting, “The chapter is taking steps to hold accountable a small number of live-in members who have repeatedly invited guests to the chapter house for social gatherings that involved live-in members and guests.

“Other live-in members are frustrated by the reckless actions of these members.”

Pi Kappa Phi, which avoided disciplinary probation with its first reprimand, upon its second violation was placed on probation through May 14 — effectively barring the chapter from hosting or co-hosting any social events “with or without alcohol” through that period.

Other fraternities and sororities facing covid-19 sanctions

Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was accused of arranging events with a sorority chapter Sept. 15, Sept. 17, and Sept. 25. The Sept. 25 gathering was a “spring breakers/80s in Aspen” themed event for which fraternity members covered chapter house windows and provided alcohol.

For those violations, the chapter is on social probation through December 2021.

Phi Gamma Delta fraternity has been placed on disciplinary probation through May 2021 following alleged parties in September.

Responding to those allegations, fraternity leaders initially admitted they conducted a 20-minute pledging ceremony of about 20 people Sept. 3. Because the chapter “covers the windows during such ceremonies, it could appear to an observer that a party is occurring inside the chapter house,” the leaders responded.

When UI officials shared more details about alleged social events, chapter leaders “seemed surprised” and agreed to investigate whether parties had occurred at the chapter house in early September and again in late September. They determined “on at least one of the nights of an alleged gathering (that may have been a party), chapter house residents invited guests over.”

“This resulted in a larger gathering of students in a common area of the chapter house than allowed or expected,” according to UI documents. “These students weren’t following social distancing or face covering expectations.”

Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority was placed on probation through May 2021 after video evidence implicated nine members in playing a drinking game in the chapter house and others of attending a social event at a fraternity.

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Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority was ordered to run a PPE drive and take other educational measures after a member hosted a birthday party at her residence with 10 to 12 friends, including other chapter members.

The Delta Delta Delta and Delta Phil Lambda sororities were accused of violating the COVID restrictions but were not sanctioned, lacking a “preponderance of evidence.”

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