University of Iowa Fraternity Deregistered After High-Risk Hazing, Forced Drinking, Verbal Assaults

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The University of Iowa has suspended — effectively deregistering — its Acacia Fraternity for high-risk hazing and a long list of violations, like berating new members for “religious, political beliefs, or racial/ethnic identity,” including during an initiation ceremony at the Masonic Temple of Iowa City.

“All new members were berated and called demeaning and misogynistic names at various times during Initiation Week,” according to a lengthy investigative report provided to The Gazette following a public records request. “Although the fall new members experienced a great deal of concerning treatment during their pledging process, the reporting parties were ‘really concerned’ about things happening to new members in the spring.”

Spring 2020 accusations against the 5-year-old UI chapter include ordering new members into the house attic “until they consumed the alcohol that was provided for them” — reportedly 60 to 90 cans of beer, two to three handles of vodka, and a gallon of Jungle Juice, according to the UI documents.

“The new members went into the attic around 7/7:30 p.m. and ‘those that could still walk came out around 11/11:30 p.m.’,” according to a summary Assistant Dean of Students and Office of Student Accountability Director Angela Ibrahim-Olin provided the fraternity. “The new members were very intoxicated, several probably needed medical attention (in the opinion of the reporting parties), many became ill and ‘the whole house smelled like vomit.’”

Although many likely needed medical help, according to those reporting the violations, active Acacia members wouldn’t “allow them to be taken to the hospital to be checked out.”

Some spring pledges were drunk when they signed to join the fraternity, according to the allegations. But, the documents report, three to four new members dropped the fraternity.

“And one left school in the 2-4 days following bid night.”

Acacia’s violations — which were investigated this fall but relate to last fall and spring 2020 — occurred while the fraternity was on probation for alcohol and other violations in December 2018.

They also come amid a flurry of investigations and sanctions against other Greek chapters this fall and last academic year for both hazing, alcohol, and COVID-19-related violations. And they occur in light of strict alcohol and event policies and regulations UI Fraternity and Sorority Life imposed years ago after a freshman died during an off-campus formal.

Acacia Iowa — which on its chapter website dates its history back to April 1909 but reports re-founding on campus in 2015 — also faced two reports of COVID-19 violations in August. But UI officials limited their response to a “reminder letter” so they could focus on the hazing investigation.

As a result of the findings Acacia violated hazing, alcohol, organizational property, and other policies — despite denials from chapter leadership and active members — the chapter has been suspended from campus through fall 2024.

Once the chapter returns, it will be on probationary status for two more semesters.

Local chapter representatives did not immediately respond to The Gazette’s request for comment. They’ve appealed the findings on grounds they’re “unreasonably harsh” and “arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, or constituted an abuse of discretion.”

Michael S. Weber, assistant executive director for the national Acacia Fraternity, provided The Gazette with a statement vowing to “take these allegations very seriously.”

“The health and safety of students is the top priority for Acacia Fraternity, and there is no tolerance for the actions reported,” he wrote. “We believe any individuals found guilty of these acts should be held accountable. The fraternity is continuing to evaluate the chapter and has yet to make a final decision on the future of the chapter at the University of Iowa.”

Those former Iowa Acacia members who reported the hazing allegations acknowledged risking repercussions and harassment, according to UI investigators, who found them increasingly credible witnesses.

“The reporting parties provided significant details about what took place, and the parties were consistent with one another and other new members’ testimony,” according to UI documents. “They kept their membership in the fraternity last year because they wanted to belong and they wanted friends.

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