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Sigma Chi house corporation bans alcohol in residence after suspected drugging by non-Stanford student

Sigma Chi house corporation bans alcohol in residence after suspected drugging by non-Stanford student

Following an alleged drugging incident last month by a non-Stanford student at an event hosted by Sigma Chi, the alumni organization that owns the Sigma Chi house says it will ban alcohol from the house completely starting this April and has restricted social events that can be hosted there.

The alumni organization, named the Alpha Omega House Corporation (AOHC), also disclosed in a press release to The Daily that it filed the initial police report on Jan. 16 about the incident, which took place on Jan. 12. Sigma Chi, meanwhile, chose not to report to police due to victims’ desire to remain anonymous, the fraternity’s president said.

Trey Turner ’19, the president of Stanford’s Sigma Chi chapter, has also confirmed to The Daily that four members of Sigma Chi — one of whom is a member of the men’s rowing team — were among the alleged victims. The Daily previously reported that at least five members of Pi Beta Phi (Pi Phi) and two members of the men’s rowing team, including the member of Sigma Chi, were affected. The updated count brings the number of alleged victims up to at least ten.

New policies

According to the press release, the AOHC has adopted three new rules regarding alcohol consumption at the Sigma Chi house. First, alcohol will be banned completely in all common areas inside and outside the house, a continuation of a policy enacted in August 2016. Second, beginning spring quarter, the AOHC is modifying room leases to preclude residents of the Sigma Chi house from owning or consuming any alcohol in their rooms. Third, Sigma Chi has been banned from hosting any events in the house aside from chapter meetings until the end of the academic year.

These new policies follow several years of escalating alcohol restrictions for the chapter.  According to a statement on alcohol policy from the AOHC, hard alcohol was banned in the house and restrictions were placed on alcohol consumption in common spaces in 2012. AOHC Chairman and spokesperson Bob Ottilie ’77 told The Daily that the association had instituted what was intended to be a permanent ban on alcohol in common spaces in August 2016.

At the request of the Stanford chapter, Ottilie says the AOHC agreed to “experiment” with allowing some alcohol back into the house this winter quarter.

“There [were] going to be a limited number of events; we had to agree on security; there had to be a licensed bartender; there had to be a guest list,” Ottilie said. “And they had to register the party with us in advance so we could make sure all the precautions were in place to preclude underage drinking and to protect the guests that were going to come into the residence.”

According to Ottilie, the party hosted at the Sigma Chi house on Jan. 12 did not follow the protocol set out by the AOHC, prompting the new alcohol policies.

“There were apparently two parties that weekend, neither of which were shared with us or approved,” Ottilie said. “And [there was] no evidence that the requirements for a party were met … It wasn’t just not telling us. They didn’t follow any of the provisions; it was a total surprise to us.”

Turner acknowledged that the fraternity had not followed the rules regarding alcohol and social events set out by both the University and the AOHC in hosting the party on Jan. 12, including not registering the party with Stanford.

“Our organization made a mistake in not registering the event,” Turner wrote in an email to The Daily. “We attempted to remain consistent with other University policies in our hosting of the event (sober monitors present, available DD [designated driver], checking IDs at the door), but ultimately that does not change the risk that allowing beer games to be played introduced and our failure to register the event with the University.”

Turner said the new policies being implemented by the AOHC — which encourage the fraternity to hold its social events away from the house and potentially off-campus — will introduce “significant additional cost, but [will] remedy some of the risks of underage drinking and the playing of beer games.”

He did not respond to additional requests for comment about the nature of the new policies and the chapter’s compliance.

In an email to The Daily, Nate Boswell, associate dean of Residential Education (ResEd), said that ResEd is aware that the AOHC has been implementing “its own policies” related to the use of alcohol in the Sigma Chi house. He also wrote that Stanford expects that the AOHC and its tenants comply with and abide by University policies.

“We welcome thoughtful discussion in our campus community about reducing risks associated with alcohol,” Boswell added.

University spokesperson EJ Miranda said in an email to The Daily that the University expects students and student groups to abide by all state, local and federal laws and to follow the University’s Student Alcohol Policy and party planning guidelines, which does not allow alcohol to be served to individuals under the age of 21.

Boswell and other Residential Education staff overseeing Greek life declined to comment on further questions about the enforcement of the AOHC’s updated alcohol policies, referring The Daily to Sigma Chi International, which had not responded to requests for comment at press time.

According to Ottilie, the new AOHC policies regarding alcohol and events constitute “a final decision.”

“It’s not something that will be negotiated, and in the conversations I’ve had with leadership subsequently defending that, they have not brought up the issue,” Ottilie said. “I think they understand that you can’t argue with the landlord … It’s a life-safety issue at this point.”

Events of Jan. 12

After being notified on Jan. 16 about the alleged drugging incident and reviewing reporting from the Fountain Hopper, the AOHC filed a police report that afternoon. According to the AOHC’s press release, the Pi Phi national sorority first informed the Sigma Chi International Fraternity, which then alerted the Sigma Chi local advisors, who in turn informed the AOHC.

The AOHC statement added that the organization was told by the Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) that it was the first to report the incident, four days after it had occurred.

SUDPS declined to comment, citing that the incident was still under active investigation. University spokesperson Lisa Lapin told The Daily in an email on Jan. 16 that Student Affairs also met with SUDPS four days after the party “to file a report as [Student Affairs] … suspected criminal activity.”

Lapin previously told The Daily that the Title IX office issued a “Notice of Investigation” that bars the alleged perpetrator from contacting anyone from the party and bans him from campus and all Stanford-owned property. The Fountain Hopper reported that the suspect is a member of the Dartmouth men’s rowing team, and Dartmouth’s campus newspaper stated that Dartmouth is in communication with Stanford regarding the investigation.

Resident staffers at Pi Phi and Sigma Chi waited until Sunday, Jan. 14 to contact the resident dean on call and personnel at Fraternity and Sorority Life after gathering information and talking to witnesses on Saturday.

The Daily reached out to residential assistants in Pi Phi and Sigma Chi, neither of whom responded to requests for comment.

The alleged drugging was not reported to the police until Tuesday, when the AOHC says it filed the initial report.

Sigma Chi chose not to report the incident, citing the victims’ desire for anonymity.

“Though there was much sentiment in favor of further [prosecution] of [the individual suspected of drugging], no further action was desired by those affected,” Turner wrote in an email to The Daily.

“Our refraining to report the incident to the police was at the request of those who were drugged,” Turner continued. “Everyone was safe, and so the request to refrain from contacting the police was in order to maintain anonymity, as, in the case of a drugging, unlike a sexual assault case, anonymity is not maintained.”

SUDPS spokesperson Bill Larson confirmed that victims cannot be anonymous in drugging cases because the accused has a constitutional right to question his or her accusers.

Pi Phi did not respond to confirm whether the incident was not reported to the police at the request of victims who wanted to remain anonymous.

Turner says that the fraternity handled the incident the following day by procuring a home drug test and informing RAs in Row houses hosting social events that they should remove the suspect if they saw him.

Although the Stanford chapter of Sigma Chi may be subject to uncommon restrictions for a fraternity, Ottilie also emphasized in the AOHC press release that Sigma Chi’s experience is not uncommon.

“This is not a Sigma Chi or Stanford problem,” Ottilie wrote. “There has been a dramatic increase in alcohol consumption on college campuses nationwide, often combined with the consumption of alcohol in a manner that makes it the focus of activities, rather than incidental to other activities … Parents, administrators and alumni need to accept the role they have often played in perpetuating this epidemic, or in failing to effectively address it.”

Despite this, Ottilie acknowledges that AOHC’s new policies are placing Sigma Chi in an unusual position on the Stanford campus.

“I think we’re going to be the only house that’s dry,” Ottilie said. “The fraternity’s got to decide what they’re gonna do: whether they want to be dry [outside of the house] or not. All we’re saying is don’t do it in the house.”

 

Contact Sarah Wishingrad at swishing ‘at’ stanford.edu and Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

 

About Alexa Philippou

Alexa Philippou '18 is a political science major and a former Managing Editor of The Daily's sports section. She switched from the sports section to news her junior year, where she has worked on the university/local beat since. Being from Baltimore, she is a die-hard Ravens and Orioles fan who cried when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. To contact Alexa, please email her at aphil723 'at' stanford.edu.

About Sarah Wishingrad

Sarah Wishingrad '18 is a former Desk Editor for the University/Local beat. She is a History major from Los Angeles, California who loves politics, the waffles at Coupa, and all things Jane Austen. Ask her about her dog, Hamilton, at swishing 'at' stanford.edu.