University disciplines 19 Epsilon Iota members for conduct violations
18 students were dismissed, one member faces disciplinary probation
AU has dismissed 18 students and placed one on disciplinary probation for violations of the student conduct code related to their involvement in the underground fraternity, Epsilon Iota, the University announced Monday.
The University said the misconduct findings included physical violence, hazing, underage drinking and “providing assistance to and perpetuating the activities of an unrecognized group engaged in prohibited conduct,” which violates a clause that was added to the conduct code in summer 2016.
The University’s assistant vice president for university communications, Camille Lepre, told The Eagle that the announcement was made after all disciplinary cases had been finalized and students were given decisions on their appeals.
“Elimination of EI or any underground group that engages in misconduct cannot be guaranteed,” Lepre said. “We will continue to vigorously hold individual students and groups accountable through the student conduct code if they engage in prohibited conduct, and we will make criminal referrals as warranted.”
Epsilon Iota, more commonly known as EI, is a former chapter of Alpha Tau Omega originally disbanded in February 2001 for hazing and alcohol violations, The Eagle previously reported. Since then, the group has operated as an “underground fraternity,” recruiting members and throwing off-campus parties that administrators have repeatedly warned students not to attend.
EI earned national attention in 2014 when 70 pages of emails and texts were leaked from an EI Google group referencing sexual assault, drugs and criminal activity. The leak came after two EI members allegedly assaulted a former pledge and attempted to run him over with a car, leaving the victim with a severe concussion, spinal sprain and temporary unconsciousness during the attack.
Dr. Fanta Aw, interim vice president of campus life, said that when students come forward with sound information, the administration is able to apply the code of conduct and take appropriate disciplinary action.
“I hope that the message to students is that we have been really working at this, we’ve been working on really making sure students are aware of some of the issues that come up with being associated with underground groups,” Aw said. “So what I would say to students is that I hope that they understand that the code of conduct applies to all of us.”
Aw hopes that these dismissals will end of the threat of EI on campus and hinder the potential growth of another underground group.
“[Students] should keep their eyes wide, they should look out for anything suspicious, and they should really take very seriously the communications that we send out to them about some of the dangers and some of the issues that are within our community,” Aw said.
Disciplinary actions were issued after investigations by various administrators, AU police and the Metropolitan Police Department, Lepre said. Investigators reviewed prior arrests from AU police, conducted interviews with witnesses and victims and reviewed other evidence such as video footage and social media postings.
“These investigations aided the University in identifying the perpetrators and then the student conduct process assessed students’ responsibility through our internal disciplinary process,” Lepre said. She added that the University has charged 67 students with disciplinary violations for their involvement with EI since 2010, some of which resulted in dismissals from AU. Other students have had their charges dropped or faced lesser disciplinary action.
Student Government President Taylor Dumpson applauded administrators for taking action against students associated with EI, noting the group’s lack of oversight from the Office of Campus Life.
“EI has been a consistent threat to the safety of AU students since it was created some 15 years ago and I am encouraged to see AU take such strong action against members of EI,” Dumpson said in a statement. “However, it is crucial for students to remain vigilant as we move forward.”
This story will be updated as more information is known. The Eagle is reaching out to MPD for comment.