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.

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Duquesne University suspends Greek activities over ‘egregious’ coronavirus violations

All Greek fraternities and sororities at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh are suspended after members hosted parties that violated COVID-19 protocols and other longer-standing campus rules, while others allegedly mislead contact tracers attempting to track the spread of coronavirus.

In a letter to students Wednesday, the university’s president expressed disappointment with the way multiple Greek organizations had responded to COVID-19 guidelines prohibiting gatherings of more than 25 people. Many of the gatherings in question he said had taken place before the majority of students returned to campus, according to Pittsburgh’s WPXI television news station. 

“Due to repeated and egregious violations of the Duquesne University Student Code of Conduct’s COVID-19 standards, by several organizations and numerous members of Greek organizations, all Greek Life activity at Duquesne is suspended indefinitely, effective immediately,” University President Dr. Douglas Frizzell wrote.

“Fraternities and sororities at Duquesne state in their language that they encourage leadership, service, excellence, integrity, and productive citizenship. And yet, at a time when the University and, indeed, our region needed you most to live the values you espouse, as a system you failed to do so,” Frizzell continued. “Furthermore, you deliberately persisted in behaviors known to endanger people.”

The private Catholic college has confirmed 156 cases of COVID-19 among its student body, while more than 250 students are currently quarantined at home or at a hotel, according to the campus’s coronavirus dashboard website.

College campuses around the country have struggled with outbreaks of coronavirus among their student populations due, in part, to gatherings in the Greek communities. Indiana University warned last month that it was seeing an “uncontrollable” spread of the virus among its fraternities and sororities.

A CNN tally last month found that more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported at U.S. colleges and universities since students returned to residences on and around campuses for the beginning of fall semester.

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