University News

Dropped drugging charges dominate BUCC meeting

President Christina Paxson P’19 addresses University’s handling of GHB, sexual assault cases

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Members of Act4RJ attended Tuesday’s Brown University Community Council meeting wearing dollar bills marked with “IX” to protest the University’s handling of the recent GHB and sexual assault cases.

Responding to protestors at Tuesday’s Brown University Community Council meeting, President Christina Paxson P’19 denied that the father of the student accused of spiking a drink with the date-rape drug GHB — a Corporation trustee — influenced his son’s case.

Paxson said she told Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn that “this case was to be handled scrupulously, by the books, just like it would be for any other student,” noting that the trustee was not in attendance at the February meeting of the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

Two female students reported being served a spiked drink by the student, a Phi Kappa Psi member, at an October party held by the fraternity. One of the women reported being sexually assaulted by a different student later that night after leaving the party.

“This was Brown’s first foray into testing for date rape drugs, and we didn’t get it right,” Paxson added. “We’ve learned a lot about testing since we started down this road. We started with basically zero, which was a problem.”

Students involved in Act4RJ — a movement organized around what participants perceive as the University’s mishandling of the date-rape drug and sexual assault cases — attended the BUCC meeting to present their grievances.

The 12 participants in Act4RJ in attendance, three of whom serve on the Task Force on Sexual Assault, taped dollar bills marked with “IX,” a reference to Title IX, over their mouths. The participants primarily intended to call into question the impact finances and family connections had in the University’s decision not to proceed with a hearing against the Phi Kappa Psi member, said Act4RJ participant Will Furuyama ’15.

After the results of urine and hair tests for the drug were deemed inconclusive, “there was not enough evidence to bring this case forward to a hearing,” Paxson said.

Due to insufficient evidence, the University decided to drop the charges against the student Feb. 21.

“The investigation into these crimes was haphazard and ineffectual,” Act4RJ participant Eve Woldemikael ’16 read from a statement crafted by the group in collaboration with the two complainants. “It seems like money and influence were two factors that informed the University’s refusal to proceed with a hearing against the accused drugger.”

An outside expert hired by the accused student brought into question the methodology and conclusiveness of the urine test used to detect GHB, prompting the University to hire an independent toxicologist who deemed the results of the urine test inconclusive.

The accused student was able to question the testing because he had the financial means to do so, Furuyama said. He added that “the imbalance of resources is something that the University needs to address going forward,” quoting from the statement.

“Brown cannot be a safe space when crimes like these go unaddressed and unpunished,” Furuyama said.

Klawunn defended the decision to drop the charges at the meeting, noting that “more evidence is required to connect the offense with a specific individual and to prove intent.”

“A mere allegation should not be sufficient to compel someone to appear at a hearing,” said Beverly Ledbetter, general counsel and a BUCC cabinet member. “If there’s no testing, you must go with what is left, and what is left is sometimes not sufficient for the board to bring the case to a hearing.”

Paxson said Student Conduct Board members are the only individuals who review all evidence and testimonies in a case.

“I don’t know whether or not I would have agreed with their conclusion, but I can’t judge whether it was wrong or right,” Paxson said of the Student Conduct Board’s finding of no responsibility in the sexual misconduct case.

Attendees at the BUCC meeting also reviewed progress on the alum networking and internship-finding website BrownConnect and the Brown Innovation Initiative, a proposal aimed at facilitating and increasing entrepreneurship on campus.

 

Clarification: A previous version of this article stated that President Christina Paxson P’19 said, “I don’t know whether or not I would have agreed with their conclusion, but I can’t judge whether it was wrong or right,” adding that SCB members are the only individuals who review all evidence and testimonies in a case. Paxson was referring to the Student Conduct Board’s finding of no responsibility in the sexual misconduct case, not to Campus Life deans’ decision to not move the drug case to the SCB.

Topics:
  • fire paxson

    fire paxson

  • fire paxson

    Below: a petition to fire Christina Paxson.

    http://firepaxson.tumblr.com/

  • Frey Camp

    Chris Paxson, You are responsible for getting things right even if you do not lie about “starting with zero.” So, have the good sense to leave your job now that you have admitted that you screwed up. And you did screw up.

  • Guest

    Accuse in public with no hard facts, and then see what happens. This is understandable when it is two women who clearly had something occur to them back in October and are following a formal process. But for this new activist group to accuse and hand down a sentence, without full knowledge of the case’s specifics and with an assumption that a student whose father is rich must have benefited from a fix, is downright slanderous.

    At Brown, do we not learn to research and find facts first before announcing conclusions? Do we not investigate both our hypothesis and the alternative case before presenting our conclusions? Do we not learn that the approaches we should apply in college also should apply in “real” life?

    The accused man in this case understandably and rightly defended himself. That he was able to do so with a hired lawyer may be because of having access to money, but that does not mean a decision was made because of that money. And taping a dollar bill to one’s mouth and referencing a (flawed) federal statute in a protest does not equal truth.

    The Act4RJ view is opinion posing as truth…. which is what Fox News and other right wing media do which these activists no doubt would protest, too.

    Pot… Kettle…

  • ROFLMAO

    Chris Paxson is doing her job in preparing young people for lives of “usefulness and reputation”. Hahahahahahahah. ROFLMAO. Gotta go pee.

    • Doc

      Gotta agree, the only thing Paxson and this school is preparing students for is a life on welfare and mental illness when they realize the real world couldn’t give to hoots about their ‘feelings’