University News

Brown modifies Phi Psi sanctions

Phi Psi gains right to petition for reinstatement in May 2017 after GHB test deemed inconclusive

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 23, 2015

The change in sanctions against Phi Kappa Psi resulted from reevaluated GHB test results and has drawn mixed response from students.

This post was updated February 23, 2015 at 1:31 a.m.

The University has amended the sanctions against Phi Kappa Psi announced Jan. 19, allowing the fraternity’s members to petition the University for recognition beginning in May 2017, 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 Saturday. The change follows the revelation that evidence previously thought to definitively indicate that a student had ingested the date-rape drug GHB at an October party held by the fraternity is, in fact, inconclusive, Carey and Klawunn wrote.

Klawunn and Carey informed the community Nov. 8 that one of two students who suspected they had been drugged at the Phi Psi party had tested positive for GHB.

In a Jan 19. email, Klawunn and Carey wrote that Phi Psi would be stripped of all University recognition, including housing and the ability to host rush, for four years. Despite an appeal from Phi Psi, the sentence was maintained.

The initial test that concluded one student had ingested GHB was conducted by “a reputable external medical laboratory whose representatives had assured the University on three separate occasions that the test results provided conclusive evidence that one student had ingested the date-rape drug,” Carey and Klawunn wrote in Saturday’s email. In February, following additional review by an outside expert, the original laboratory reversed its confirmation, stating the results neither confirmed nor denied the imbibing of a date-rape drug. After the evidence was found to be inconclusive, it was thrown out of the case, and the appeals officer reassessed the sanctions.

Some students expressed frustration with the change in the sanctions and the influence the GHB test results had on the hearing decisions.

“It was a little bit arbitrary bringing down the suspension just because one piece of evidence was thrown out,” said Neil Singh ’16.

Max Lowndes ’17 criticized the University’s initial response to what turned out to be unclear evidence.

“It would have been better to have the University make a decision and stick by it, instead of being wishy-washy on what seems like inconclusive evidence,” Lowndes said. “If they weren’t confident in lab tests before, they shouldn’t have made the decision.”

But Elizabeth Polott GS praised what she perceived as the University’s transparency regarding the Phi Psi decision.

“I went to an undergraduate school where they hid everything,” Polott said. “I’m glad (administrators) are emailing us. … It’s nice to see them making an effort.”

Carey and Klawunn wrote in Saturday’s email that the GHB test results were not the determining factor in the hearing decision.

“The laboratory test was only one piece of evidence in the set of facts in this case, and not particularly determinative,” Carey and Klawunn wrote, adding that “the student conduct board found a very strong likelihood that two students were administered alcohol and/or some other drug diminishing their normal functions to a degree that placed them at risk of harm.”

“The single unreliable laboratory test does not alter the overall disciplinary record of this organization, and the sanctions which have been imposed, and upheld on appeal, are fair and appropriate,” Carey and Klawunn wrote.


  1. Pink Princess says:

    Summary: Margaret covers her butt on every issue, about everything. Congratulations Margaret. Hope you are proud of yourself. When your kids grow up we will tell them everything about how lousy your judgements are.

  2. Fact Sharing Guest says:


    * Please note I am not a Phi Kappa Psi member *

    1. The first woman, who alleged a sexual assault took place, had a GHB test that proved “inconclusive” because it only showed that she had GHB in her system. In fact,we all have natural levels of GHB in our systems. The test did not show that a spike in GHB levels, which would have shown had she been drugged.

    2. The second woman tested negative (!) for having a GHB spike in her system, albeit from a different type of test. Therefore, she was NOT drugged.

    3. The two women shared one and only one drink at Phi Kappa Psi the night in question. Therefore, if one was drugged, both would have been. By their own admission, the second woman drank the grand majority of the drink. If she was not drugged (based on #2 above), then there was NO drug in the drink.

    4. The alleged sexual assault, as is common knowledge now, was not by a fraternity member nor in the fraternity house. In fact, no sexual assault has been proven and it seems even the university has not agreed that one occurred based on evidence presented to it from the separate case.

    Phi Kappa Psi served grain alcohol punch at an unregistered party. People consumed it, including minors. Some got drunk. Period.

    The university has been deplorable in how this situation has been handled. Phi Kappa Psi served drinks to guests, just like what occurs in college parties around the nation and beyond. Two guests made an accusation that turned out to be patently false.

    Brown wanted to be shown as acting on the more public issue of campus
    sexual assaults, particularly after the recent Lena Sclove case and
    other cases at universities nationwide. The university knew the results of both GHB tests BEFORE the original sentence was handed down. It now adds to its terrible actions by refusing to admit its mistakes, apologize to Phi Kappa Psi and the young women in question for indicating things that were clearly not true.

    For these actions, we should question the honesty and suitability of Deans Klawunn and Carey for the positions they hold. They have accused and defamed young men who only broke the rule of serving alcohol to minors… which the university actually tacitly approved at the time to keep drinking on campus. These deans and the administration owe a proper apology to Phi Kappa Psi. These deans and administration should make a proper press release indicating that the house did not violate any rules regarding drugs, rather than the release they made which still gives the indication that Phi Kappa Psi may have distributed drugs to its patrons. For that release to lead with “sanctions upheld” rather than “Brown administration made errors and needs to correct them and clear Phi Kappa Psi of a series (not all) accusations” shows that Klawunn, Carey and indeed Paxson are not honest brokers.

    This yet again is a day of shame for Brown. My heart goes out to the two young women who were misled by the administration into believing their cases had scientific proof when they did not. And my heart and sympathy goes to Phi Kappa Psi’s members for though they showed poor judgement in having an unregistered event with grain alcohol, they should never have been given a 4 year or 2 1/2 year sentence. I doubt they should have been removed from Sears House at all.

    In case there are any questions, through various sources (not the fraternity I should state) I have seen the above points all made in communications among administration members.

    • Serving alcohol to minors is a serious crime, committed with intent. The frat, its members, and Brown deans must have the book thrown at them. Oh yeah I get it. It’s only a crime, and not a big deal at Brown University, by the kind of thinking espoused by Chris Paxson and Margaret Klawunn.

      • Beige Pink – you do realize the administration is being two-faced. On one side, they want underage drinking to occur on campus because that is safer than students going/driving off campus, which they will do now. On the other hand, it wants to come down hard on any campus organization that serves alcohol in those cases where something bad becomes public knowledge, as if to show the administration is being responsible.

        Had the incorrect accusation of drugging not occurred in the first place, Phi Psi never would have been thrown off campus. It would have been given a social probation, probably less than Sigma Chi’s 1 1/2 year ban since Sigma Chi’s had a sexual assault aspects occur in their house. The excuse that the new sanction is in line with other accusations which Phi Psi admitted to is simply not accurate – the deans simply could not go from 4 years to 1 year off campus or a social probation because it would make them look like they were not taking sexual assault seriously, even though there was no sexual assault at Phi Psi or a date rape drug spike to lead to one.

        The whole affair with this frat is because of the supposed drugging, not serving alcohol to minors, which happens all over campus. The deans are covering their tails. You have it backwards — Paxson and Klawunn are trying to make “it” a big deal, but it is not the same “it” they started with in their actions against Phi Psi and now they are changing the focus.

        • “Any campus organization”? No way. Only the greeks will get treated like this. Remember, the QA admitted that SPG has facilitated rape on campus for multiple years and they weren’t even put on probation by the university!

    • Wow, why do we hear this after the story had been mentioned in the NYT and our Brunonian feminists had a field day with it?
      Cases like that once again prove that Brown is completely incompetent with sexual assault cases!
      After crying wolf so many times, one has to be afraid people won’t act when a legitimate sexual assault happens. Shame on Brown and all people commenting before any facts became available.

    • Please, read Phi Psi’s letter to the Brown Community :


      • Phi Psi was being diplomatic in that letter. There are even more facts than what they have stated and what is posted above that basically throw out the entire premise for which the administration has attempted to sanction the fraternity. In the coming days or weeks, it will be absolutely clear that the administration knowingly sanctioned Phi Psi when actual proof contradicted the accusations, and the alleged sexual assault was just that… Alleged. Stay tuned.

        • Honestly the assault could be 100% true and it still doesn’t make the university look any better. My outrage over this whole situation has always assumed the girl was absolutely assaulted elsewhere on campus as alleged.

    • ShadrachSmith says:

      Fraternities are the natural prey of Feminist Star Chambers. The Feminists will destroy them all, one at a time at first, and then the rest all together. Deserve has nothing to do with it, facts have nothing to do with it, the evidence will be real or fake…it just doesn’t matter to them.

      The question is why does Brown give extra legal power to unloved women to harm those who don’t love them?

      Answer – the feminists have Democrat campaign memes on their side,
      and those count for more than truth around here 🙂

  3. Inept, scientifically illiterate cowards. Although that’s pretty much what we expect from Brown deans.

  4. Wow – this is all incredible! I would hope that President Paxton actually reviews this matter and corrects the gross errors that her administation has made. Let’s see if she is a real leader or just a figure head.

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