Update: University changes stance on GHB case

Last semester, two female students filed reports that they were drugged at an unregistered party at Phi Psi. One of the students also filed a report that she had been sexually assaulted later that night, by someone who was not a member of Phi Psi.

The fraternity was originally suspended for four years, with loss of housing and University recognition. Earlier this semester, Phi Psi distributed posters all over campus, with a QR code that directed to a statement on the lack of transparency in University’s handling of the case.

The media frenzy started when the Brown Daily Herald published an article on the fraternity’s false claim that the test results for GHB were solidly inconclusive. Since Monday, there has been a flurry of Herald and Huffington Post articles on the situation’s unfolding. We urge you to stay updated on their coverage, but in brief summary:

  • The urine test, originally thought to test positive for GHB, was deemed inconclusive. The University modified the fraternity’s sanction, allowing a petition for reinstatement after two and a half years.
  • The hair test found only natural levels of GHB, but the results were discounted due to concerns about the test’s methodology. While Phi Psi used the outcome to further their case for reinstatement, the University faces public scrutiny for hiring labs that produced faulty results.

  • According to a toxicologist that Brown hired, it is notoriously difficult to prove the consumption of GHB in these tests, because it is naturally present at some level in the body.
  • For a full briefing on the mishandling of the hair sample, and lack of necessary segmentation, read this article in the Herald. Notably, it is apparent that this is not the first time toxicologist Ernest Lykissa has misconducted a drug test.
  • Unbeknownst to the majority of campus, a member of Phi Psi was initially charged with administering the GHB drug to the two victims. The two female students believe administrators told them the University would move forward with a hearing against the student based on witness testimonies alone, according to emails. But the University dropped the charges due to the lack of physical evidence.
  • Since the hearing was dropped, multiple students have come forward with concerns that the accused’s father, a trustee on the Brown Corporation, may have had an influence on the status of the hearing. A group of students responded in backlash with a photo campaign, and the hashtag “Money Talks at Brown.”10926214_10153206919598489_2215609837577213125_n 10393867_1030302970316487_6951492352388563405_n
  • The student accused of sexually assaulting one of the drugging victims has been found not responsible by the University Student Conduct Board. SCB equated the complainant’s lack of memory of the incident to her being unable to effectively counter the assailant’s claim that she did provide consent. She appealed the case, and the accused was still not found responsible. In a letter to the complainant announcing the appeal decision, appeal officer Deputy Provost Joseph Meisel wrote “Even sober people can trip on pavement at night.”
  • In this Huffington Post article, the night of the drugging is given more detail.
    • “A female senior had asked a male student for her own drink instead of the punch being served at the party because she was concerned about her food allergies. Both she and her friend, a junior who drank from the same cup, say they felt physical effects immediately and remember struggling to move on their own.”
  • A student-led demonstration was present at the University panel event on, ironically, “Women Presidents and the Changing University.” The panel featured President Paxson, as well as Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University and Shirley Tilghman and Nan Keohane, the first female presidents of Princeton and Duke, respectively. Students taped bills with red tape spelling out “IX” to their mouths. 10451321_10206183704611959_1333947397932699572_n

Evidently, there is a significant lack of precedent for the University in dealing with sexual assault cases that involve an alleged drugging. UCS is currently deliberating on whether or not it should release a statement.

Note: This post has been updated to correct several minor inaccuracies.

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  1. Decent common sense

    “The urine test, originally thought to test positive for GHB, was deemed inconclusive.” In the same article/articles referenced it is stated that there are natural levels of GHB within a person. In order to take away confusion that GHB being present means that someone was given a date-rape drug containing the substance, you should really state that the test was thought to be positive for “elevated levels of GHB consistent with a date-rape drug”. Because either A: That is what was originally thought or B: What are we doing here

  2. Correction Person

    Phi Psi’s claim was not false, it is disputed. Based on the information it had from the lab, which was that the lab test had segmented the hair and found the specimens to be clear of exogenous GHB, the fraternity proceeded with its letter. Since the two women shared one drink only, if one definitively was not drugged, neither was the other.

    Your reporting is as questionable as that of the BDH. Huffington Post actually corrected its incorrect assertion in its online article about the Phi Psi letter. Maybe you can, too.

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