An attorney for the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity was upset with the statement from University of Iowa officials regarding the closure of the fraternity’s UI chapter, believing the statement “disengages the university from any role in the closure.”
Frank Ginocchio, general counsel and director of risk management for the national SAE office, made those comments in a Sept. 24 email to UI Dean of Students David Grady. UI officials and national fraternity leaders had discussions for several days regarding the planned suspension of the UI chapter for hazing violations, according to Ginocchio’s email. The collaboration was welcomed, he said, but later he was not happy with the UI’s drafted statement about the fraternity.
“I was a bit nonplussed by your statement regarding the seriousness of the chapter member bad behavior,” Ginocchio wrote. “You seemed to be saying that we might actually condone or ignore such behavior. I did respond that of course we deplore such behavior and it is against our policies, mission and goals. Despite your comment I hoped that we had a different situation here with a collaborative effort between a university and a fraternity in a mutually agreed upon action.”
Grady responded in an email that it’s clear the UI was “very engaged” with the matter. UI officials discussed their planned statement with fraternity officials for several hours before it was released, Grady said in his email, and the other representatives seemed fine with the language.
“The UI statement is accurate and supportive of the action taken by SAE and supportive of the UI Greek community (something else you won’t see from every university administration),” Grady wrote.
The university on Friday released about 100 pages of emails exchanged among UI officials regarding the suspension and closing of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon UI chapter in late September.
The emails, released in response to media open records requests, shed little light on the specifics of the hazing, and mostly include discussions among UI officials about how the university was going to respond to release of the news and how they were communicating with house chapter members and their parents. University officials have previously said the chapter was suspended and the house closed by the fraternity headquarters after reports of hazing and “unsafe and illegal consumption of alcohol.”
National Sigma Alpha Epsilon officials suspended and closed the UI chapter and expelled all members — about 60 — for hazing. UI officials also said they were conducting an investigation into possible individual violations of the Code of Student Life. University Spokesman Tom Moore on Friday said those investigations are complete, but said officials cannot release any details about findings or sanctions because of federal privacy laws protecting students.
In providing the emails to The Gazette, university officials said some documents were withheld or redacted in keeping with privacy laws, and other documents were withheld or redacted “because they were draft works in progress.”
A few UI emails among those released discuss the possibility that other UI Greek chapters currently without a house may express interest in renting the SAE house once it became vacant. The house is not owned by the university.
The primary concern of the fraternity’s house corporation board was renting the property out, either to another Greek chapter or to students on an individual basis, because there is a $450,000 mortgage, national fraternity leaders told UI officials in one Sept. 25 email.
Moore said Friday UI officials have not been notified that the house has been rented.
Von Stange, the UI’s director of housing, also inquired in an email to Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin about the capacity of the house, “just thinking about our housing options in the future,” Stange said.