By Fangzhou Liu
At least five members of Pi Beta Phi and two members of the men’s rowing team suspect that they were drugged by a non-Stanford student visiting members of Stanford’s men’s rowing team at the Sigma Chi fraternity house on Friday night.
According to an email memo from Pi Phi house staff to sorority members, one of the men affected was transported to the hospital on Friday night despite a blood alcohol content lower than typical transport levels. Student residential staffers in both houses waited until late Sunday afternoon to report any news of the suspected drugging incident to Residential Education, who notified the Title IX office.
The Title IX office is now investigating the incident, and Student Affairs met with the Department of Public Safety in order to file a report on Tuesday because “it is suspected criminal activity,” according to University spokesperson Lisa Lapin.
The Monday evening memo stated that at least five members of Pi Phi at the Sigma Chi event experienced unusual symptoms “suspect of drug involvement.” Members said they did not remember what happened the night before although they had not consumed enough alcohol to cause a blackout.
“Symptoms aligned with that of Xanax or a similar benzodiazepine,” the staff member wrote. “But not all members took a drug test and we do not have official evidence.”
Benzodiazepines, also called “benzos,” are a type of drug that functions as a minor tranquilizer – “roofies” (trade name Rohypnol) are a type of benzodiazepine commonly known as a date rape drug. Xanax, also known by the scientific name alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine whose effects last for a shorter time than Rohypnol and is often used to treat disorders related to anxiety or panic.
The Pi Phi staffer also wrote that a Sigma Chi staffer reported in a Monday afternoon meeting that two male rowers also suspected they had been drugged at the party. One of these men was transported to the hospital, though his blood alcohol content level was “too low to have warranted a transport.”
The other rower tested positive after he went to the hospital voluntarily, the memo added. An anonymous source with direct knowledge of the event said that the rower was also a Sigma Chi member.
Members of Pi Phi raised concerns about their symptoms to their leaders on Saturday, and each student group investigated the incident throughout Saturday and Sunday.
Despite the Friday night incident, Sigma Chi hosted another party on Saturday night with a different sorority.
The Pi Phi memo describes the person suspected of bringing drugs to the party as “loosely affiliated with Stanford Men’s Rowing” but not a Stanford student and not someone linked to Sigma Chi. The suspect was invited to Friday’s event by rowers, the message said.
The Fountain Hopper, which broke the story early Tuesday, wrote that the suspect is a member of the Dartmouth College men’s rowing team, which was also reported to The Daily by anonymous sources.
By Sunday evening, pictures of the non-Stanford suspect were circulating along with what the email to Pi Phis called “rumors … containing false information.”
According to the memo, the Pi Phi staffer spoke with two residence deans, and learned that Residential Education reported the incident to the Title IX office. The memo went on to say that Title IX will be opening an investigation, and that specific students involved can choose whether to cooperate.
“There is a protocol that must be followed on the part of the university but ultimately our members have the power to decide what they would like to do,” the staffer wrote. “We as a chapter will support them in whatever they decide.”
All seven students have since recovered, according to the Fountain Hopper. But the incident could have other consequences for the Greek organizations involved. Sigma Chi was only recently removed from University probation, and Pi Phi is currently on probation. The organizations participated in a temporary and informal resident exchange earlier in the week, with several members of Sigma Chi staying in Pi Phi and vice versa, an exchange Sigma Chi used to participate in with the co-op Columbae.
The Pi Phi national organization is “in the process of gathering the facts behind this incident to determine if Pi Beta Phi policies have been violated,” stated an email from Eily Cummings, senior director of marketing and communications for Pi Phi national. Cummings added that the organization is investigating the incident alongside Stanford. Sigma Chi national has not yet responded to a request for comment.
“The reports shared from those who attended an open house event on Friday night are very concerning,” wrote Cummings. “A discussion was held at the chapter’s weekly meeting, and we will support the individual members affected.”
Pi Phi members were first notified of the incident in a Monday meeting followed by the memo sent that evening.
“We sincerely apologize for not having gotten this information to you earlier,” wrote the staff member on behalf of the staff team and Pi Phi president Lauren Maymar ’19. “We felt it was too soon, sought to respect the privacy of those affected, and felt we didn’t have all the information until now.”
The Daily has also reached out to Residential Education and Stanford’s Title IX office, neither of which has commented as of Tuesday afternoon.
UPDATE 1/18/18: Stanford has issued a notice to the alleged non-Stanford perpetrator in the drugging incident, banning him from campus and campus property.
“The notice is called a ‘Notice of Investigation’ and is issued by the Title IX office,” wrote University spokesperson Lisa Lapin in an email to The Daily. “It bars him from contacting anyone from the party and bans him from campus and all Stanford-owned property.”
The University investigation is ongoing.
Hannah Knowles and Courtney Douglas contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of the article mistakenly stated that Pi Phi and another sorority were both on probation with its national organization at the time of writing.
Contact Fangzhou Liu at fzliu96 ‘at’ stanford.edu.