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Parties with alcohol service barred in residence halls

Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Chi face stiff penalties after reports of sexual misconduct related to unregistered events last semester

Updated January 21, 2015 at 1:50 a.m.

Registered events with alcohol will be banned in residential areas, including Greek and program houses, while the Division of Campus Life and Student Services reviews the University’s alcohol policies this semester, 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 Monday afternoon.

Student organizations that have not committed any infractions may still host University-sponsored parties that include alcohol service to those of legal drinking age, Carey and Klawunn wrote. These events must be supervised and take place in campus spaces designated for parties, such as Sayles Hall and the Kasper Multipurpose Room, Klawunn told The Herald.

Organizations that violate the new policies will face an administration prepared to issue sanctions comparable to those incurred by Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Chi.

“We’re making information available so that it’s known what kind of sanction could follow,” Klawunn said.
The review this spring will assess “alcohol policy and social event regulations to promote a safer environment on campus,” the administrators wrote in the email.

Though the University commissioned an external review to assess campus alcohol use and policies last May, this review will differ, as it will focus “very specifically on how we manage social events on campus,” Klawunn said.
The email signals a shift in policy that will shake up campus life, but its effects may be most immediately apparent on Wriston Quad.

Following separate sexual misconduct reports filed by students who attended unregistered parties with alcohol service at Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Chi, both fraternities have received sanctions that will restrict their presence on campus.

Though no member of either fraternity has been “charged with sexual misconduct” in the reported incidents, both have been held culpable “for creating an environment that facilitated sexual misconduct through improperly monitored spaces and inadequate safeguards surrounding the service of alcohol,” Carey and Klawunn wrote.

“We recognize that, in the instances discussed in this letter, not all students within the organizations were individually responsible for the events that occurred. It is imperative, however, that all students take full responsibility for the behaviors of their organizations,” they added.

The University levied the harshest punishment against Phi Kappa Psi, where two students were given drinks with GHB, a date-rape drug, at an unregistered party with alcohol service held in October. One student reported that she was sexually assaulted later that evening as a result of being drugged at the party, though the assault did not take place at the fraternity.

A conduct board — composed of an administrator, a faculty member and a student — held the organization liable for several violations, including “actions that can result in harm; illegal possession or use of drugs; illegal provision, sale, or possession with intent to sell/provide drugs; and violation of operational rules,” Carey and Klawunn wrote.

The conduct board stripped Phi Kappa Psi of University recognition, which includes the right to program housing, for the next four years.

The sanctions against Phi Kappa Psi will take immediate effect due to the gravity of the most recent offenses and the fraternity’s history of infractions, Carey and Klawunn wrote.

These immediate measures will manifest themselves most clearly in the physical dispersion of the fraternity’s members. The University has already moved many members out of Sears House, where their fraternity was previously housed, offering them off-campus housing or dormitory rooms elsewhere on campus similar to those they had last semester, Klawunn told The Herald.

“As many students as we can, we’re moving for the spring,” she said.

The email announced that Sigma Chi was also placed under sanctions for hosting an unregistered party Oct. 3 where alcohol was served in its basement. The Department of Public Safety shut down the party, and, as students left the room, one student was allegedly touched in “a sexual nature” without her consent, Carey and Klawunn wrote.

Following a student organization hearing Oct. 31, Sigma Chi was put on probation and suspended until fall 2016. Until the termination of that suspension, the fraternity is forbidden from recruiting new members and from holding rush and initiation events.

Rooms of current Sigma Chi members graduating in 2015 and 2016 will be filled with independents in the coming years, Klawunn said.

Fraternity members will also be obligated to participate in programs that teach them about alcohol, sexual assault and the preservation of a safe environment, according to the email.

Both Sigma Chi and Phi Kappa Psi appealed their decisions to no avail.

“Phi Kappa Psi does not condone the illegal possession, use or sale of drugs and supports the University’s efforts to ensure that students are not put at risk,” the fraternity wrote in a letter to the editor Tuesday afternoon. But they added, “Very serious questions arising from emerging scientific evidence remain about whether or not either of the women ingested GHB, and for these reasons, Phi Kappa Psi continues to believe that no member served a spiked drink to either of the young women.”

In another letter to the editor sent to The Herald Monday evening, Greek Council wrote that it “supports the University’s efforts to promote a safer environment on Brown’s campus” and is “committed to working with the administration and the greater Brown community to address the serious issues that we as a community are facing.”

Carey, President Christina Paxson P’19 and Associate Director for Off Campus Living and Programs Kate Tompkins were not available for comment by press time Tuesday evening, and several fraternity and sorority leaders declined to comment.


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