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Actions Taken Against Students Involved in Misconduct by an Underground Group Known as EI

August 28, 2017

American University has determined that 19 students have violated the Student Conduct Code related to their involvement with Epsilon Iota (EI). EI is an underground student group that has engaged in a pattern of Student Conduct Code violations. The misconduct findings range from physical violence, hazing, and underage drinking, to providing assistance to and perpetuating the activities of an unrecognized group engaged in prohibited conduct.

The sanctions imposed in these cases included 18 dismissals and one disciplinary probation.

"This group has perpetuated and systematically presented a threat to the safety and well-being of our students," said Fanta Aw, American University Interim Vice President of Campus Life. "This should send a strong message to anyone involved with groups engaged in activities prohibited by the Conduct Code.

AU does not comment on individual student cases. Disciplinary records of individual students are considered confidential under federal student privacy laws. The disciplinary process followed by the university may be found at in the Student Conduct Code.

Background on Epsilon Iota

Several times in the fall of 2000, the national fraternity Alpha Tau Omega (ATΩ) suspended its Epsilon Iota Chapter at American University, due to violations of alcohol and hazing rules. AU conduct charges also were filed against the group at that time.

The chapter voluntarily surrendered its charter to the national fraternity in lieu of ATΩ headquarters' action to revoke their charter. AU formally withdrew recognition of ATΩ as a fraternity on February 7, 2001.

In 2002, former ATΩ members created Epsilon Iota. The university does not recognize EI as a legitimate student group. Despite not being recognized or authorized, EI continued to operate and engage in serious misconduct.

From 2004 onward, members of EI were implicated in incidents of disorderly conduct, including loud parties, public urination, trash/littering, near campus.

In recent years, the university received reports that EI members were engaging in alleged illegal behaviors such as assault, sexual assault, rape, underage drinking and illicit drug use, occurring primarily off-campus.

As a result, AU increased scrutiny of EI and proactively attempted to identify perpetrators and stop activity that was criminal and/or violated the Student Conduct Code.

Since 2002, American University regularly warns students about EI's activities and parties where prohibited conduct may occur and discourages them from participating. These warnings include the following:

  • During Eagle Summit, AU's summer orientation program, incoming students are warned about EI and underground groups that engage in prohibited conduct.
  • Before Welcome Week, the Vice President of Campus Life or Dean of Students sends a memo to all new undergraduate students and a letter to their parents warning them about off-campus parties and underground groups.
  • During Eagle Summit and Welcome Week, incoming students are warned specifically about EI as part of the sexual assault awareness program.
  • Resident Assistants discuss the dangers of underground groups that engage in prohibited conduct during mandatory floor meetings in first-year communities.
  • More recently, in April 2017, AU's Dean of Students warned all undergraduate students of an off-campus party advertised by the underground group EI.

Since 2010, the university has charged 67 students affiliated with Epsilon Iota with violations of our Student Conduct Code. Many of these investigations led to sanctions up to and including dismissal from the university. The university has referred allegations of criminal conduct to law enforcement.

In summer 2016, AU amended its Student Conduct Code to add as prohibited conduct: "providing assistance to or in any way perpetuating the activities of an Underground Group that violates the Code and/or other university policies." (Student Conduct Code, section VI, GG)