UI frat’s members had high arrest, citation rate

Sigma Alpha Epsilon was closed by national headquarters this week

Diane Heldt
Published: September 27 2012 | 6:11 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 1:08 am in

IOWA CITY — Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the University of Iowa fraternity that was closed by its national headquarters this week for hazing, had the highest rate of member arrests and citations in the UI Greek system for the past two years.

The chapter saw 27 percent of its members cited or arrested for non-traffic-related crimes in Iowa City in the 2011-12 academic year — the highest rate among all UI fraternities and sororities, according to data tracked by the Dean of Students’ office. In 2010-11 the figure was 26 percent, tying the house with Sigma Phi Epsilon for the highest rate, according to numbers provided by the university to The Gazette on Thursday.

The arrest or citation rate for all members of UI fraternities was 9.9 percent last academic year, and for UI male undergraduates it was 7.9 percent. The rate for female undergraduates was much lower at 4.4 percent.

Mike Weaver, who was president of the shuttered UI Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, declined to comment Thursday.

National Sigma Alpha Epsilon officials this week suspended and closed the UI chapter and expelled all current members — about 60 — for hazing, officials announced. No details have been provided by national fraternity officials or by the university, though a UI statement this week suggests alcohol played a role. UI officials also said an investigation into individual violations of the Code of Student Life is in progress.

The Dean of Students’ office uses data from Iowa City and UI police to collect statistics on crimes involving students, except for traffic tickets. The information is tracked by student categories, such as gender, Greek houses, dorm residents, those eligible for honors programs and athletes, to give officials an idea of trends over many years.

“Over that period, the figures have generated numerous conversations, particularly between the university administrators and student representatives in the Greek community,” Tom Baker, associate dean of students, said via email Thursday.

The numbers for the most recent three years show, for example, that the 9.9 percent of UI fraternity members were cited or arrested last year is a decrease from 15.1 percent in 2010-11 and 12.8 percent in 2009-10. Dean of Students David Grady said some houses have very low membership — less than 10 — so one or two arrests can make the rate look bad.

“One of the things we’re working on is trying to reduce the rates in our fraternity and sorority chapters,” he said. “The fraternities are down over the three-year period.”

A new Fraternity and Sorority Life policy, put in place last year, is aimed at moving that goal along, Grady said.

The policy states that each fraternity and sorority must maintain a modified arrest and citation rate (the modified rate takes into account cases eventually dismissed or removed by appeal) that is no higher than the overall rate for undergraduates of the same sex. The policy is being implemented over time, so if a Greek house has a rate above the allowed level, members can make progress on it each semester until spring 2013, after which houses are expected to keep the rate below the appropriate level or face sanctions.

Student leaders with the Interfraternity Council did not return messages Thursday.

UI officials use the arrest and citation data to not only look at specific student populations, but also to watch for changes in the types of crimes, Baker said. For example, public intoxication in 2011-12 overtook underage drinking as the crime with the most arrests and citations among UI students.

Public intoxication accounted for 441 of the arrests and citations in 2011-12, compared with 308 the year before. That increase is noteworthy for UI officials, Baker said.

The second-highest number of arrests and citations last year was for underage drinking, with 379 charges — a decline from 483 the year before. Being in a bar after hours was the third most common offense at 244 instances.

The UI data includes one arrest or citation per student, so a student who is arrested twice during a single academic year period is listed only once, Grady said.

Last year, 1,369 students were charged with at least one non-traffic criminal offense from Aug. 10, 2011, to this May 13, excluding winter break. That total is an increase from the 1,313 students arrested or cited in 2010-11 and the 1,072 such students in 2009-10.

In 2011-12, 141 students were cited or arrested on two or more dates.

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