UI works on Fraternity/Sorority Life strategic plan

After disciplining several greek chapters for alcohol- and hazing-policy violations, the UI looks to make positive changes to the community with the strategic plan.


Joseph Cress

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.

Marissa Payne, Editor-in-Chief

The University of Iowa continues to craft its plan for a healthier Fraternity/Sorority Life community, aiming to change the culture surrounding high-risk alcohol consumption that has resulted in student deaths and disciplinary actions against several greek chapters.

UI officials are working with the greek community to draft a strategic plan that will guide fraternities and sororities in fostering a “more healthy and safe” environment, according to a message sent to greek leaders Tuesday. 

Efforts started around fall 2018 to create the Fraternity/Sorority Life strategic plan before the UI announced it had suspended nine Interfraternity Council fraternities last October. 

Following those suspensions, the UI announced in December 2018 it revoked the registered student-organization status of four chapters and placed six on probation for university alcohol- and hazing-policy violations. 

RELATED: 4 UI fraternities lose registered student org status, 6 on probation

Feedback sessions to discuss the draft plan took place in the IMU over the summer with council and chapter presidents, alum volunteers, house directors, and national and international headquarter representatives, IMU Executive Director Bill Nelson said. 

Nelson said the draft plan focuses on creating a healthy and safe, supportive, and inclusive Fraternity/Sorority Life community.

“Fraternity/Sorority Life is a shared enterprise,” he said. “All of those partners have a stake within the community, and they all have a role in the process of looking at where we are moving forward.”

While touching on the community’s progress, the message sent Tuesday — signed by Nelson, Student Accountability Office Director Angela Ibrahim-Olin, and interim Dean of Students Angie Reams — acknowledged the challenges the community faced in its recent history.

“Last year was difficult for many reasons, but primarily because some chapters disregarded the health and safety of others and engaged in dangerous behaviors, including the harmful consumption of alcohol and hazing,” the message reads.

The note came with a warning that the UI “will continue to hold [chapters] accountable for violations of university policy” if any greek chapter or student organization engages in misconduct in accordance with the Code of Student Life.

“It has already come to our attention that there has been outreach to properties near Melrose Court to potentially hold large open events with alcohol, similar to the ones that led to university policy violations last fall,” according to the message. 

UI media-relations manager Hayley Bruce said in an email that no disciplinary actions have been taken in response to those outreach efforts.

Nelson said policies the UI previously piloted with the community, such as the moratorium on events with alcohol and the ban on out-of-town formals, are now the official policies. Those policies were implemented after the death in 2017 of UI student Kamil Jackowski at an out-of-town formal.

“A chapter’s disciplinary status, whether sanctioned from the university or from its respective governing council, will determine eligibility to hold social events with alcohol,” according to the message. 

RELATED: UI president discusses fraternity suspensions, safety on campus

In December 2018 before the UI took disciplinary actions against several chapters, UI President Bruce Harreld told The Daily Iowan the behavior in the community was unacceptable, but said Fraternity/Sorority systems across the country faced similar issues.

“I continue to remind myself as a parent and grandparent that people, that parents don’t send their daughters and sons to institutions like ours and have them go through those types of experiences,” he said. “We’ve had a couple cases in which students have died, they’ve been hazed, we’re not going to tolerate that anymore. And if that’s not acceptable, then we’ll have to find some other social system and reinvent something.”

There is no timeline for the final plan’s release as the UI continues to receive feedback from greek-community stakeholders. Nelson said more feedback sessions will take place this semester.