American University Group Marches Against Underground Frat

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An American University group held a march Thursday afternoon, nearly a week after a string of emails from an underground fraternity sparked outrage on campus. Erika Gonzalez reports.

    An American University group held a march Thursday afternoon, nearly a week after a string of emails from an underground fraternity sparked outrage on campus.

    Students with "March for Change"  walked from the main quad to the home of the university's president to bring awareness to campus "rape culture" and call for disciplinary action against those responsible for the shocking emails. 

    In more than 70 pages of leaked e-mails and text messages, members of the underground fraternity, Epsilon Iota, discussed rape, underage drinking and other illicit behaviors. The documents appear to be taken from a Google listserv for the former Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

    Epsilon Iota lost recognition as a chapter, both nationally and at the university level, following "serious policy infractions which involved hazing and alcohol abuse" in 2001. After losing their recognition, members of the chapter formed Epsilon Iota, and it appears they've continued to operate despite their standing.

    The American University InterFraternity Council, which represents AU's 12 recognized fraternities, blamed "the university and the larger community" for failing to report Epsilon Iota's past transgression, which aided in its continued existence.

    But Gail Short Hanson, AU's vice president for Campus Life, says the university has actively worked to curtail Epsilon Iota's activities.

    Students have been warned about joining or engaging with Epsilon Iota; parents are also told about the group at orientations and in writing.

    "Whenever credible reports about misconduct have been provided, we have pursued them," Hanson said in a statement.

    Since the emails surfaced last week, a petition calling for the expulsion of those involved and more transparency from the university has amassed nearly 1,500 signatures.

    "As an alumni of the Class of 2007, I experienced confrontations with EI. I'm shocked that this organization is still at AU. This organization needs to be treated and defined as a "gang" immediately," wrote Heather Kumer, a supporter of the Change.org petition.

    In a statement issured Monday, AU President Cornelius M. “Neil” Kerwin said the school will take "swift and deliberate action," adding that the fraternity's exchanges “not only conflict with our values and standards, but also may represent breaches of our student conduct code and of the law.”

    Kerwin added, "We will be as transparent as we can be, but we will not jeopardize due process and the rights of individual privacy."

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