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Arrest rates lower among UI sororities and fraternities

BY REBECCA MORIN | FEBRUARY 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa greek community has seen a decrease in arrest rates, and some officials say this is a step in the right direction.

In 2011, UI fraternities and sororities had double the number of arrests compared with the non-greek students. As a result, the Alcohol and Citation Policy was implemented in November 2011 to challenge fraternities and sororities to lower the number of arrests that occurred in their chapters.

This policy states that chapters with arrest and citation rates equal to or less than that of all campus women’s and all campus men’s rates will be compliant. All campus men and all campus women are defined as those not involved in greek organizations.

In order to maintain compliance, chapters must maintain arrest ratios equal to or less than one. If chapters do not meet these requirements, sanctions may be put into place, and those groups have four semesters to return back to compliance. 

“All sororities and all fraternities had high arrest rates; as a result, the university really responded,” said Kelly Jo Karnes, associate director for the Center for Student Involvement and Leaderships.  “[Tom] Rocklin challenged greek life to get arrest rates equivalent to all campus men and all campus women arrest rates.”

Within three semesters after this policy was implemented, fraternity arrest rates lowered to the equivalent of non-fraternity member men’s arrest rates, and sorority members responded similarly.

During the 2011-12 school year, arrest rates for fraternity members were at 11 percent, down from 12 percent during the 2009-10 school year. Arrest rates for sororities during the 2011-12 school year were at 6.7 percent, up from 5 percent during the 2009-10 school year. Despite this increase, officials said the overall numbers are a good sign.

“I’m pleased to see that students in the fraternity and sorority community have moved from being cited or arrested approximately twice as frequently as their peers to a point where they are arrested less often overall,” said Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for the Office of Student Life.

Officials said this trend is also spreading to the entire campus population. Data suggest that the university as a whole is moving in a positive direction, said Kelly Bender, the UI community harm reduction initiatives coordinator.

“There are few frequent high-risk drinkers,” she said. “PAULA citations and keeping a disorderly house are both going down.”

While these numbers are decreasing, there is still room for improvement, officials said.

“I don’t think arrests have gone away, but there is a trend of constant efforts to lower arrests throughout the university,” Karnes said.

In order to maintain these low numbers, sororities and fraternities are responsible for disciplining their members who get in trouble.

“Most sororities and fraternities have their own internal sanctions to keep up with the policy,” Karnes said. “Some chapters use a two- or three-strike rule, so if you get two or three strikes, you are no longer a member of the chapter.”

Many greek-life chapters want to be considered independent and responsible for their actions when mistakes are made.

“We want to be known as a community as socially responsible and accountable for our actions and consequences,” Karnes said. “We also want the community to be proud of their accomplishments.”

Bender said she thinks there is enough incentive in keeping a clean record to resist the temptation of underage drinking or other means of getting arrested.

“It will be beneficial to future members to get jobs and internships that they wouldn’t get if they were arrested or cited,” Bender said.


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