Sophia Barnes

American University Expels Students Linked to Underground Fraternity

American University says they received reports that members of Epsilon Iota committed sexual assaults

American University disciplined 19 students who they said were associated with an "underground student group" accused of involvement in hazing, underage drinking, physical violence and sexual assault.

The school announced Monday that 18 students were dismissed from the university and one placed on probation because of their relation to Epsilon Iota, or EI -- a group that began as a fraternity but operated without official recognition from school officials for about 15 years.

The national fraternity Alpha Tau Omega suspended their chapter at AU, Epsilon Iota, in 2000 after the group violated hazing and alcohol rules, according to a statement published by the school. In February 2001, AU formally withdrew the fraternity’s charter. Members of that fraternity created EI in 2002, according to school officials.

The group continued to operate despite its status and was involved in a scandal in 2014 when 70 pages of emails from the group’s listserv leaked. The emails discussed illicit activities including underage drinking and rape. 

Two alleged members of the group were also arrested that year for assaulting another AU student so seriously he was hospitalized with a severe concussion, the AU campus newspaper, The Eagle, reported

AU said in their statement that officials received reports about EI-affiliated students engaging in "alleged illegal behaviors such as assault, sexual assault, rape, underage drinking and illicit drug use, occurring primarily off-campus."

"This group has perpetuated and systematically presented a threat to the safety and well-being of our students," Fanta Aw, American University Interim Vice President of Campus Life, said.

Sixty-seven AU students affiliated with EI have been charged with conduct violations since 2010, according to officials.

AU also said students are officially warned about the dangers of off-campus parties and "incoming students are warned specifically about EI as part of the sexual assault awareness program," the statement said.

Last year, the school amended its code of conduct to prohibit helping underground groups that violate university policy.

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