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The other day we reported that fraternity and sorority members at the University of Iowa tend to, on average, find themselves on the wrong side of the law more often than their GDI counterparts.
Last school year, 9.9 percent of UofI fraternity members and 6.7 percent of sorority members were cited or arrested by police at least once…
By comparison, the citation and arrest rate was 7.9 percent for all male undergraduates and 4.4 percent for female undergraduates last academic year.
Iowa Greek Life has of course been known to get a little rowdy, so the slight difference between GDIs and Greeks should come as no surprise. After all, this is the same school currently experiencing a stripper party epidemic, at least according to its administration.
The difference in arrest and citation rates could also be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that Iowa GDIs are preventing Iowa City police from getting into their house parties by pitting the ICPD against its most powerful nemesis,
meth dealers closed doors.
Regardless of what exactly causes the discrepancy between Greeks and GDIs, the trend of higher arrest rates for Greek Hawkeyes has been going on for years according to the numbers. The height of Greek arrest and citation rates came in 2010 when 15.1 percent of fraternity members and 7.4 percent of sorority members had been arrested or cited by police.
In fact, 2010 saw a campus wide increase in arrests and citations, specifically those pertaining to alcohol related offenses. From the Huffington Post:
University of Iowa officials are hard-pressed to come up with an explanation for the school’s 53 percent increase in alcohol-related arrests from Jan. 1 to March 31.
That’s humongous! Whatever could have caused such a spike in alcohol related arrests?
University of Iowa President Sally Mason says her school is attempting to analyze what is going on, but has not come up with no single or simple answer.
This sounds like a complex issue. As the president of the university said, there isn’t a single or simple answer. Why would there be? I hope all of Iowa’s top scientists were put on this mystery as soon as possible.
Mason said there could be an increase in charges because UI has significantly increased the number of public safety officers and is assisting Iowa City police with patrolling downtown.
Goddammit. Call off the scientists.
Really, Sally Mason? You significantly increased the number of public safety officers but then could not find a single OR simple answer to the question, “I wonder why alcohol related arrests significantly increased?”
It just goes to show, don’t ask a question if you’re not going to like the answer. And if you do ask that question, and do get that answer you don’t like, then just go ahead and lie to yourself about it.
It would seem that the significant increase in arrest rates was distressing enough to the university to cause the administration to do some serious self-reevaluation. The people in charge of Iowa’s Greek Life, The Office of Student Life, were no different, and it appears that those university officials who oversee the school’s fraternities and sororities did not like what they found, specifically that while all Iowa students were suddenly being arrested at higher rates FOR REASONS NO ONE COULD EXPLAIN, fraternity and sorority members were exceeding the increased arrest rates of their GDI counterparts.
To remedy this problem Iowa Greek Life officials put on their thinking caps and did what so many other Greek Life offices love to do, they changed shit, you know, just ‘cause.
I assume the staff had meetings, and I assume those meetings were filled with a sense of self-importance deluded enough to cause its participants to actually look forward to the meetings because, “Yay! We get to decide stuff!” You have to be a real asshole to look forward to a work meeting. You also have to be a real asshole to think up what was ultimately the product of these meetings, that being the “FSL Arrest and Citation Policy.”
First, of course, there is the obvious general problem with this policy. That being that the school found it necessary to punish students, or rather, one and only one particular group of students, for their arrest rates because the school believed that these rates were high enough to be considered unacceptable, distressing, and actionable. The school saw fit to act on this “problem” without considering the fact that they themselves inflated the rates to what they considered unacceptable levels by increasing the number of law enforcement officials policing the students. Furthermore, at no point did they consult with the IFC or PHA executive boards, just the presidents of IFC and PHA. According to sources the meeting was nothing more than the Student Life Office forcing the two presidents to accept. The Student Life Office did not speak with any chapter presidents. Not for help, not even for input.
So, yeah, there’s that heap of bullshit. But now let’s dive into the policy itself, which is, for lack of an eloquent description that might be more illustrative of how poorly conceived and outrageously unfair this policy is, pretty fucking stupid.
The policy itself is simple:
Each social fraternity or sorority is responsible for maintaining a modified arrest and citation rate (defined below) no higher than the overall rate for undergraduate students of the same sex.
Any fraternity or sorority having a higher arrest rate than the all campus men’s or women’s average, respectively, will be punished. It’s simple. Stupid, but simple.
The entire policy centers around something termed the “Modified Arrest and Citation Rate.” The formula for determining that rate is as follows:
number of members arrested or cited during the reporting period minus number of arrests or citations removed by appeal divided by number of members on reporting period’s final roster
Or to put it into an equation:
Number of members arrested or cited = x
Number of arrests or citations removed by appeal = y
Number of members on semester’s roster= z
Overall Arrest and Citation rate for same gendered undergrads = a
The Modified Arrest and Citation Rate determines everything in this policy. If a chapter’s MACR is greater than that of the all campus average, then that chapter will be sanctioned, plain and simple. Here’s the initial problem, and it’s a big one. There are three factors in the equation used to determine the MACR. One of those factors, y, or arrests and citations removed by appeal, is essentially useless. Why? Because “arrests and citations removed by appeal” does not in any way take into account the amount of time it takes to have a ticket, such as a Minor in Possession, dropped or lowered to something like Littering (which would actually still count against the chapter’s MACR). There is a good chance that process will spill over into the next semester. What then? Would a citation be counted against the fraternity even though the charge would eventually be dropped?
The appeals process for the policy itself does not seem to address this issue, only stating that the following in regard to dropped charges:
Chapters may request recalculation of their modified arrest and citation ratio for any of the following reasons:
1.A member who was reported as arrested or cited was acquitted of all the charges arising from the incident.
2.All of the charges from an incident were dropped.
It has to be assumed that “I swear the charges are going to be dropped but my court date isn’t for another two months,” isn’t a viable excuse. So…what? Would they like a note from the judge?
The policy’s reporting period illuminates another fundamental flaw.
Reporting Period: The reporting period for fall semesters is from August 10 through fall commencement day. The reporting period for spring semesters is from January 10 through spring commencement day. Arrests and citations occurring outside of the reporting period are not covered by this policy.
Arrests that occur during the summer or winter break are not covered by the policy. Why is this? What if the arrest occurs in Iowa City, during the summer, while the fraternity or sorority member is enrolled in class and the house is open and operating during the summer break? How is that student any different in July than they are in October? The thinking, I believe, behind this is that the students aren’t representative of their organizations or schools during breaks, even if they are enrolled in class and living at the house, hypothetically. Being representative of their houses, and thus Greek Life, is important. If this wasn’t an issue then this policy would not exist because the difference in arrest rates between Greeks and GDIs would be a non-issue, no one would care. Representation and appearances were some of, if not the two biggest, driving forces behind the creation of this policy.
What determines when a member is being representative of their house? A member who gets wasted at their fraternity house, goes out, and gets a public intoxication over the summer is fine, but a member who gets an MIP in the fall, on the streets of downtown while having seemingly nothing to do with his fraternity other than being a member is counted? This makes no sense. Perhaps Iowa’s Greek Life feels that a member cannot be held accountable over breaks because there weren’t enough of their brothers or sisters around to influence their behavior or help them make better decisions? Again that’s outrageous. If a member does something like drive to an off campus bar, meet up with a group of people who have nothing to do with their chapter, gets drunk, attempts to drive home and gets a DUI then how is that in any way their chapter’s fault?
The chapter could be punished for the actions of an individual that they likely had no control over. Are whole ultimate frisbee teams going to be kicked off of the rec fields for a semester if one of their members goes rogue while high on mushrooms and crashes his car into a Whole Foods?
The further you read into this policy the further you realize how much of a farce it truly is.
Chapters with modified arrest and citation ratios greater than the all women’s (for sororities) or all men’s (for fraternities) rates, based on fall 2011 data will have four (4) semesters to achieve full compliance. Each semester, these chapters must make progress equal to one-fourth (1⁄4) of the difference between their spring 2010 modified arrest and citation ratio and one. For example, a chapter with a modified arrest and citation ratio 2.0 times as high as the all men’s or all women’s rate, as appropriate, in spring 2010 would be in compliance if the chapter achieved modified arrest and citation rates as follows:
The fraternities and sororities have four semesters to comply or they will likely lose school recognition, which is essentially a death sentence. Is that reasonable? It would be, maybe, if the crimes being committed were serious and committed with regularity. However, a chapter’s arrest and citation rate can rise simply from a member getting a ticket for jaywalking. Yes, jaywalking. Eventually chapters have to choose between loyalty and their ability to exist on campus. A member may find themselves facing expulsion or alumni status simply for receiving a jaywalking ticket, just so that their citation is not counted against the chapter.
If chapters are polite enough to comply they receive a veritable gift basket of useless prizes from Greek Life.
Chapters that are in compliance in a given semester will be recognized as follows.
− The vice president for student life will write to their inter/national headquarters recognizing the chapter’s success.
− The chapter will be eligible to request permission to hold an event at which alcohol is served in a university building.
− Members of Interfraternity Council chapters that are in compliance will be released from their University Housing & Dining contracts to move into the chapter house, provided they meet all other requirements established jointly by University Housing & Dining and the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership.
Well, that and they’re allowed to exist.
The sanctions themselves seem pretty standard. There are four tiers, with each tier escalating the punishment for further noncompliance.
There isn’t much to say about the actual punishments. It’s much more productive to complain about what could potentially bring a chapter to these consequences than complaining about what the consequence are. Suffice it to say that any punishment is unfair when they are the result of a policy this stupid.
As of now most fraternities at the University of Iowa are facing some tier of punishment. No other student group at the University of Iowa is subject to the FSL Arrest and Citation Policy, just fraternities and sororities. Iowa Greeks are furious and it’s hard to blame them. According to one anonymous Iowa Greek, the Student Life office has had no interest in hearing the complaints of fraternity and sorority members, and plans to keep the policy in place for the foreseeable future.
This entire policy is an over-regulatory, discriminatory piece of shit. Who could possibly think it would make sense to raise the police presence and then ask fraternities and sororities to lower their arrest and citation rates at the same time? The idiots running the University of Iowa’s Student Life, that’s who.
If you feel that this policy is outrageous and unfair, feel free to contact the University of Iowa’s Student Life Office. You can get in contact with them here:
Here’s the full policy: