The Iowa State College Republicans impeached one of its members, Heather Dunn, on the grounds of sexual assault and harassment during its meeting Wednesday night.
Dunn, however, feels that these sexual harassment and assault allegations are false and instead a guise by the student organization to remove her from College Republicans because she is a transgender woman.
College Republicans argued that the sexual assault and harassment allegations, as defined by the Iowa State Code of Conduct, occurred at a party attended by its members in Adel, Iowa on Oct. 27.
“There is plenty of evidence from testimony from members of this organization that the reason behind these phony allegations is because of the fact that I am transgender,” Dunn said in a prepared statement to the organization in advance of her impeachment. “I was under the impression when I came out that the College Republicans were actually accepting of me. It looks like I was wrong.”
In what was a majority vote by the 30 College Republicans in attendance, Dunn was impeached after a 15-minute deliberation by the organization’s members.
Then-College Republican Chairman Anthony Chavez said that he was first made aware of the allegations against Dunn on Nov. 1 after the organization’s weekly meeting—five days after the incidents are said to have occurred.
“We immediately sought out the advice of our academic adviser on campus, Matthew Delisi. We also reported it [to the Iowa State Police Department] right away,” Chavez said in advance of the deliberation, in which the executive board had asked Dunn to leave the room for. “The executive board decided to take this action because this is the lightest action that we can take as individuals.”
To his knowledge, Chavez said the university will not be opening an investigation into the issue because the members involved currently do not plan on pressing charges. Additionally, Chavez said there will be “no consequences to the College Republicans club.”
Chavez said the organization reported the incident to the Iowa State Police on Nov. 3—a week after the party—however, no reports matching the descriptions of the incident were filed, according to the university police crime log.
Anthony Greiter, community outreach officer with the Iowa State Police Department, said the sexual assault reports may not be in the crime log because the alleged incidents occurred off-campus, which is outside the Iowa State Police Department’s jurisdiction. In some cases, he said, a report is taken strictly for information purposes.
During the deliberations, some members were concerned with the stigma of the Republican party with “being against LGBT rights” and encouraged the organization’s members to be very careful with the decision at hand.
“We are not focusing on the gender status of Ms. Dunn,” Chavez said. “It is solely based off the fact that two counts of sexual assault and four counts of sexual harassment were committed. Gender is not an issue here. This is simply about the accusations.”
However, Dunn was provided little to no information regarding the allegations against her, she said, and feels they are “outright lies.”
“To me, this is slander. I flat out deny this,” Dunn said in a previous interview. “The [College Republicans] have the circumstances wrong; they have the little facts wrong.”
Chavez said that he attempted to reach out to Dunn on Nov. 2 both in-person and online to discuss the Oct. 27 incident, but Dunn never followed up.
Dunn was first made aware of the allegations against her when she was pulled aside before a College Republicans meeting by Chavez on Nov. 8 where he notified her of the charges.
According to the College Republicans’ constitution, members up for impeachment must be notified within seven days before the vote is to take place.
As far as Dunn remembers, the evening of Friday, Oct. 27, happened as follows: She arrived to a College Republicans’ party in Adel, Iowa, at about 4:30 p.m. For a few hours, she watched Addams Family movies with friends.
At 9 p.m., the Halloween party began to pick up—more drinking, more people.
“It was a lot of drinking. Most of the people there were college students, the purpose being to get drunk,” Dunn, a senior in accounting, said.
About 1:30 a.m., Dunn was driven home after having thrown up on herself from drinking too much liquor. A sober College Republicans member was driving, she said. Dunn picked up her car from Adel the next morning.
In the days that followed, nothing seemed too out of the ordinary. That’s what she remembers.
On Nov. 2—six days after the party—Dunn said she received an email from a College Republicans alum hinting at an incident that may have occurred on Oct. 27.
Dunn, confused, forwarded the email to the College Republicans’ secretary Vlad Minock where he replied: “It wouldn’t surprise me if somebody just disagrees with you being transgender and wants you out.”
Minock addressed this interaction during the deliberations Wednesday and said that he made that statement in advance of knowing about the allegations being made against Dunn.
“I was misinformed on the situation. Heather came to me asking what this was about and I had no clue whatsoever. The only logical thing I could think of was… maybe it’s because you are transsexual [transgender], I have no clue. That’s how my words were phrased, it was in no way ‘yeah, this is why.’”
College Republican’s executive leadership, in an interview after the meeting, said that there are four counts of sexual harassment against Dunn regarding two College Republican members and two of their guests, as well as two counts of sexual assault against Dunn regarding a College Republican member and another member’s significant other.
“We talked to Heather and told her we’re not responsible for the charges that are brought up. We made it aware to all the members that were involved that it is their individual decision on whether or not to pursue charges,” Chavez said. “As far as our adviser has told us, we have followed the right procedures. As far as anyone is concerned, the College Republicans will no longer be involved in this incident.”
Dunn, who began living openly as a woman in mid-September, has been involved on and off with the organization since 2014. Dunn said that when she first came out to the College Republicans, she offered to act as a merger between the two communities.
“I am not asking you to agree with my decision to transition from male-to-female, I am just asking for the GOP to be the big tent that I remember it used to be,” Dunn said. “I strongly urge this body to vote an absolute and resounding no on this question. Vote no to bigotry based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Vote no for a stronger College Republicans chapter.”
Chavez said, however, that he and his organization stands by their decision.
“We want to be abundantly clear it has nothing to do with sexual orientation or however you identify,” said Chairman-elect Taylor Collins. “This is about us making a point that any action, no matter what the situation is, will be treated like anyone else.
“We can’t allow these types of things to happen because if we allow it to happen, it will happen again.”
Dunn said she intends to report the impeachment to the Office of Equal Opportunity on the grounds of discrimination and false accusations.
The Daily’s Emily Blobaum contributed reporting to this article.