Efforts from the University of Iowa’s administration have helped bring down the insane arrest figures of Greek students to about the same rate as the rest of the student body. But until recently, if you were looking to stay out of jail, you probably didn’t want to go Greek at IU.
After reaching an arrest high point (or low point) with a whopping 26.5 percent of Greeks during the 2004-2005 school year, the university began a steady descent in that figure. In 2011, arrest rates for Greeks were down to 11 percent, or about twice as high as non-Greeks (five percent). This year, Iowa has now gotten its Greek system to about the same number as the rest of its student body.
According to The Daily Iowan:
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.
All sororities and fraternities? In most schools, the row runs the gambit from Animal House to Revenge of the Nerds, so either a few houses were getting so many arrests that they skewed the average, or even the worst house on campus was plowing members through the Iowa City judicial system.
Either way, Iowa was clearly out of control. During the 2004-2005 school year, over one out of four Greeks was arrested. One out of four! “Sorry everybody, we had to cancel homecoming this year. Too many people were in jail.” Obviously they didn’t occur all at once and many of the arrests were just written citations, but still. When 26.5 percent of all Greek members don’t just break the law but are caught breaking it, you have a serious problem.
It wasn’t just the fraternities in those arrest-filled glory days of the mid 2000s either. While they counted for a whopping 19 percentage points of that 26.5 percent, Iowa’s sororities were still above the rest of the campus average at 7.5 percent in 2004-2005.
It’s interesting that Iowa would even get to that point. With pledge rides to avoid DUIs, the ability to drink in the confines of a fraternity house instead of a more tightly-controlled dorm or apartment complex, and the added sense of responsibility that comes with “If I punch a cop in the face and steal his car I can also get my whole chapter in trouble,” you would think Iowa Greeks would slow down. The best party in the world or a great night out at the bars loses all credibility when you get kicked off campus for it. Sure, it’s great to glorify the occasional “blacking out so hard I got thrown in county jail” story, but it’s no longer cool when you have to host chapter meetings there.
To combat this, the 20-member Fraternity and Sorority Life Alcohol Task Force at the University of Iowa was created in 2010. The recommendations from the esteemed board are attributed with helping to cut the arrest number to 17 percent Greek-wide, nearly three times the non-Greek rate.
As helpful as forcing each chapter to host two alcohol-free events a year has been, the biggest drop offs have undoubtedly come from the strict requirements placed in 2011 on Greek houses to keep their members out of arrest reports. In November of that year, the aptly named Alcohol and Citation Policy was enacted to help cut down on problems with alcohol and citations. Houses with arrest rates higher than the campus average face sanctions from the university. This has helped lead the current decrease and is expected to continue to decrease arrests in years to come.
An Iowa official summed up the exciting developments with a sad, yet true, statement to the press:
“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.
[via The Daily Iowan]