University News

Students report spiked drinks at Phi Psi party

Alleged sexual assault later in the night also to be investigated by University officials

Senior Staff Writer
Saturday, October 25, 2014

Students reported being given alcoholic drinks containing date-rape drugs at a fraternity party in Sears House on Wriston Quad Oct. 17, according to an email from Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services.

Updated Monday, Oct. 27 at 9:20 a.m.

Two students informed the Office of Student Life and the Department of Public Safety that they suspected they were given alcoholic drinks containing a date-rape drug at a fraternity party in Sears House Oct. 17, wrote Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, and Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, executive vice president for planning and policy, in a community-wide email Friday.

One of the students reported that she was sexually assaulted the same night that she received the date-rape drug. Both students reported “a rapid onset of intoxication out of proportion to what they may have had to drink,” as well as “memory loss for a significant period of time” — effects consistent with consuming common date-rape drugs like Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine, according to the email.

Neither Klawunn nor Carey could be reached for comment by press time Sunday on the specific drugs the students consumed or the name of the fraternity where the alleged incident occurred. Though its investigation is ongoing, the University has suspended the fraternity where the “spiked” drinks were provided and is reevaluating its policies for alcohol service at campus events, Klawunn and Carey wrote.

The Brown chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity is the only fraternity housed in Sears, according to the Brown University Greek Community website.

“We take this matter very seriously and are investigating to determine the facts to inform any action,” wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald.

Alex Sherry ’15, Greek Council chair and a brother of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, was not aware of either the alleged date rape or any incidences of drugged alcoholic drinks prior to reading Klawunn and Carey’s email, he wrote in an email to The Herald Friday night.

Kevin Carty ’15, a sexual assault peer educator and brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said the alleged incident occurred as peer educators embark on a new bystander prevention education program “every member of every” fraternity and sorority is set to undergo this semester.

“Sexual assault is committed by people who are shielded by groups,” said Carty, a Herald opinions columnist. “Bystander prevention education does a good job of educating people who aren’t going to commit sexual assault to make the culture of the group or the house a safer place.”

This is the third year that Greek Council has undertaken a sexual assault prevention and education initiative, Carty said.

With the help of Marc Peters, the new men’s health coordinator, and a larger group of peer educators, the program has worked to schedule sessions with every house in order to reach as many members as possible, rather than only new pledges in the spring, Carty said.

Sergeant Steven Bremges said DPS was unable to release additional information until Monday.

Meanwhile, Klawunn and Carey urged community members to contact DPS Sergeant John Carvalho with information about the suspected use of a date-rape drug or the alleged sexual assault.

The alleged incident at Brown follows two other episodes of assault involving date-rape drugs this semester, one at the University of California at Berkeley and another at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Five individuals at Berkeley told campus authorities earlier this month that they were given “roofies” and sexually assaulted at an unrecognized chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon, the Daily Californian reported.


  1. Anybody who has incriminating information about anybody else, talk to Providence PD. Do not talk to Brown DPS, Klawunn, Quinn, Carey, or any other administrator of Brown University, because they will sweep it under the rug, and they protect rapists. If Providence PD does not act, escalate the issues.

  2. So there’s a positive toxicology test here, right? Not just a witch hunt?

    98% of people claiming they were drugged have no evidence of date rape drugs in their blood or urine:

    • As Vice President Klawunn’s article explicitly reminded us, “Alcohol is the most common date rape drug.”

      There has been an allegation of sexual assault, and regardless of whether rohypnol or alcohol was the drug in question, we have a responsibility to take our own lack of particular knowledge about what happened seriously as the process unfolds. The most important reason to do that is to create a community where students feel safe reporting sexual assault and suspicions of malicious use of drugs (including alcohol).

      Your sense that there is a “witch hunt” is out of all proportion to the reporting in this article. There are merely human beings who have alleged a crime that now does need to be investigated.

      • Literally the first sentence of this article says drinks were served with a date-rape drug. Yes, alcohol is the most common date rape drug but everyone knows that the deans don’t mean alcohol in this context otherwise 3/4 of students (probably a low estimate) are getting served date rape drug laced drinks on a consistent basis.

      • I haven’t read a single comment question the assault allegation, only the allegation that the drinks were laced.

    • JohnneyRingo says:

      2% do “Those two female students were tested for a date rape drug and this weekend, Brown University confirmed one of the students tested positive for a date rape drug.”

  3. Greek council VP 08-09 says:

    What happened in 2010 and 2011 regarding Greek council’s sexual assault prevention program? This article states it’s the 3rd year but we had a program in 2009.

    • Turk Kirsch says:

      Paxson wiped her butt with it.

    • I’m not sure. When I came in as a pledge in 2012, there wasn’t really all that much of a comprehensive program. So, we took a program that a pledgemaster and Vince Greer (of Health Services) had developed for AEPi during 2012 (and which I was fortunate enough to experience), and we standardized and mandated it across the Greek system. I don’t know the relationship between that program, your efforts in 2009, and what else Greek Council was doing.

      Feel free to email me about this more:

  4. Here is a word that any proper newspaper would use in an article like this: “alleged”. Also, stating the name of a specific fraternity only, somewhat implying that it was the fraternity itself that ‘spiked’ a drink, is not responsible.

    I recall many years ago that a sexual assault (not rape though) occurred in one of the Wriston houses. This was awful, but it did not involve a member of the house where it occurred nor anyone associated with the house – just someone who was attending the party acting in a criminal manner in an isolated part of the fraternity’s basement away from others. By the time the true situation was realized and reported, it already was too late as said house was implicated.

    There has so be a better way for the BDH to report on news like this and hold journalistic integrity. If a house is found guilty, then that is when such a position should be presented. Standards, please.

    • So the word “report,” doesn’t pass muster? That word doesn’t assume guilt; it merely shares the fact that spiked drinks were reported.
      Further, it’s entirely possible that a non-brother of the house was the perpetrator in question, and the title of this article does not foreclose this possibility. Again, it merely states the fact that two students reported spiked drinks at a party in this fraternity. It doesn’t establish perpetratorship as you seem to imply.

      • Kevin Carty – good points.

        What also is concerning about the BDH report, though, is that many others seemingly imbibed the drinks in question but without the effects described in the article. In other words, either the “spiking” was targeted at specific individuals and therefore not part of the fraternity’s actual drink being served to its guests, or there was no spike at all. If it was the former, then it very well may not have involved a brother/pledge at all – this is part of what I was stating above in the original post. If it was the latter, then this is a concern insofar as serving liquor that would lead to such drunkenness is something the house in question should monitor. Either way, it seems as though the house in question should not be assumed guilty of anything, and the BDH and the administration should do a much better job not to cast aspersions or inferences.

        From what I can tell, there is a lot more to this story than “fraternity bad” which unfortunately seems like an outcome due to the BDH’s approach. The administration needs to get the tone right so as not to punish where it may not be due.

    • Sexual assault but not rape? Sorry, man, but sexual assualt is a kindler, gentler term for rape, which we are all afraid to confront.

  5. Here’s what happened: PhiPsi made some “danger punch” — ultrasweet to disguise the gallons of liquor it contained — and threw a party. Some girls consumed more alcohol than they realized because… how could they possibly know the amount of alcohol in their drinks? One blacks out, wakes up a stranger’s bed, and Brown has a new sexual assault case.

    In typical Brown fashion, there will be hysteria over an imagined problem (roofies) and no effort to address the dangerous drinking culture that pervades this campus.

    • Trained Bartender says:

      I’m sorry, but there’s no way to disguise ‘gallons of liquor’ in a bowl of punch, or a fishtank for that matter, regardless of what sweet things you pump it with.

    • Student '17 says:

      The problem is the rape culture that pervades this campus and other campuses across the country. Drinking is not an excuse.

      • You sound more intent on solving the problem than preventing it. “Rape culture” makes it sounds like there’s a syndicate of rapists holding meetings in basement corners throughout campus. That’s likely not the case (just smelly, sticky floors from what I’ve gathered) .

        It is unfortunate that Brown students can look at so many issues with a critical eye and view different groups of people with an open and understanding stance, and yet are so readily willing to blanket “frat culture” and “rape culture” into the same bundle.

        Anyone who knows anything about Greek life on Brown’s campus knows that being in a frat at brown does not entitle you to any special prestige. Greek life is always under scrutiny and, as an independent who happens to enjoy going to these parties, i see entitlement and carelessness as being the bigger issue: people who think their tuition entitles them to the kind of booze-filled, ego driven antics of the “my life is like a movie and there are no repercussions for my actions” generation. My point is, frats at Brown are not lawless groups shielded by an insular sense of superiority or recklessness. They’re held to a much stricter standard than the rest of the Brown community could ever understand.

        Of course, it’s always safer to regurgitate the popular narrative. You’ve got a few more years left here to decide what kind of person you are, “Student’17”.

  6. It was highly irresponsible and self-serving for the frat to claim that none of its members are responsible for the alleged assault. It may be true but they have no idea. It smacks of the despicable trend of “looking out for one’s own” despite what they may have done.

    • 15'er tired of clueless people says:

      A statement clearly needed to be made seeing that they were being labeled as date-rapers. If you read the letter, you would see that no one in the FRATERNITY is being investigated at all and thus needed to clear the air as to the extent of their involvement. Good day Bobby

    • Incorrect Bob – they do have an idea. From what I understand, the fraternity has been informed who the alleged perpetrator of the crime is (after all, the victim would name names) and it is NOT someone associated with Phi Psi. I reckon for legal reasons neither Phi Psi nor the university can specifically state this as the investigation continues, but it is now increasingly common knowledge on campus that the assault was one that did not involve a Phi Psi member.

      If someone enters your house, spikes a drink, then assaults a victim, you do have some responsibility. Read the Phi Psi letter — they admit this openly. But it does not mean you would be directly involved in the sexual assault. The law does not state this, nor would most people in the cold light of day.

  7. JohnneyRingo says:

    Ahem… “Those two female students were tested for a date rape drug and this weekend, Brown University confirmed one of the students tested positive for a date rape drug.” How about you all stop protecting the fraternity and start respecting the rights of the rape victim?

    • So the 2% rape allegation rate is low enough that it should be ignored but the 2% positive test rate is high enough that no one should ever question an allegation of being roofied? Gotcha.

      • JohnneyRingo says:

        Who said anything about ignoring the 2%? That’s quite a straw man set up if I’ve ever seen one. Even silly I suppose… But I digress, my reasoning for writing is that many posters here seem far too eager to pass responsibility on to someone who “attended” the party, claim that the victims were just “too drunk and forgot what they were doing.” and that the allegations are (excuse me, were) unsupported. It’s comical that many of these “Alums” moral compasses are a little off… Gotcha?!?!?

        • Ahem yourself. From more than one source (not in the fraternity by the way) the alleged perpetrator of the assault is NOT from the fraternity, and is known to the university and indeed the victim. It is next to impossible to police all attendees at a party to ensure one does not spike a drink. That it occurred at any specific fraternity is unfortunate, and the house should do better to protect its guests, but that does not make it directly responsible for the drugging or the sexual assault.

          If you had a better moral compass, perhaps you would not direct an accusation without proof especially when a little research would show that it is not where you are claiming.

          • JohnneyRingo says:

            No, you’re a little confused. It’s not “unfortunate” that rape happened at the party. My idea of unfortunate is, say, marking B on an exam rather than the correct answer… Or, say, I unfortunately spent my last dollar on a losing lottery ticket. Unfortunate is to be down on one’s luck (Are you really saying that girl was unlucky?).

            It’s flat out WRONG that anyone gets raped at any event. If I have anyone in my house, I’m 100% accountable for everything and anything that happens within my doors. By your logic, I can prepare food the wrong way, give everyone food poisoning, and say it was their fault for eating my food (Doesn’t this seem silly?).

            The frat, is 100% responsible. If you had a better moral compass, perhaps you’d have a little common sense.

          • Bruce Wayne says:

            Except, of course, that no one got raped at the party…

          • JohnneyRingo says:

            Man, it’s unfortunate that Phi is shut down for 4 years… Guess they were, ahem, responsible?

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