UI sorority mom unhappy with chapter's communication following daughter's expulsion


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One University of Iowa sorority parent said she's frustrated with the lack of information she's received following her daughter's expulsion from Zeta Tau Alpha after an alleged alcohol violation.

Barbara Meadow said her daughter, along with nearly a dozen other chapter women, were asked to leave the house with little notice earlier this month. Meadow said the came after alcohol was reportedly found in girls' rooms earlier this year. According to Zeta Tau Alpha policy found on its website, consumption of alcohol on the organization's property is forbidden.

Meadow and other parents were concerned their daughters would be homeless mid-semester — though Meadow's daughter did find housing.

"The parents are frustrated because we don't have anyone to contact," Meadow said. "We tried to reach out to the sorority, but there was no response."

Meadow said she was told the national Zeta Tau Alpha organization was going to make a decision on the women's fate over winter break. She said she and other parents sent a joint letter to the national organization but didn't hear back until this month.

Several members of the UI's Zeta Tau Alpha chapter and national headquarters members have refused to comment after being contacted by The Daily Iowan.

The National Zeta Tau Alpha organization sent a letter to chapter alumni in November 2011, which The Daily Iowan obtained. The letter said members of the UI chapter were involved in activities that could jeopardize the chapter's existence on campus.

"These problems, which have involved risk-management issues and lack of cooperation with the national organization, continue as the chapter shows no regard for Zeta Tau Alpha's national policies, the University of Iowa, or the state laws of Iowa," the email said.

The letter said the organization underwent a membership review in December 2011.

Kelly Jo Karnes, an associate director of the UI Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, said chapter rules vary among each greek organization.

She said greek chapters, unlike UI student organizations such as the Hawk's Nest, are governed by an outside authority — their national councils — not the university.

"All of our greek chapters are governed by a national organization," she said. "All of those chapters have to answer, not only to the UI's local policies, but also to [the organization's] national policies."

Arthur Hoge, an Oklahoma-based lawyer who has provided legal assistance to fraternities, sororities, and national greek housing corporations for 35 years, said non-communication between parents and national organizations isn't unheard of.

"It's not unusual or uncommon for the national organizations to have a policy where matters between the mass organization and the members are considered matters strictly between the mass and the member," he said. "Sometimes, it's frustrating for parents to understand that, but that's reality. It's the same thing as your university cannot give out grades without your authorization."

Hoge said the reason may include story variations given to the parent and the organization member.

But Meadows said she only wants the situation to be fair.

"I wanted to make public the way they are treating these girls," she said. "I want them to know what kind of sorority this is."

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