Brown University sanctions two fraternities over links to reported sexual assaults


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PROVIDENCE — Brown University has ordered more than two dozen fraternity brothers at Sears House to move out of the dormitory and has effectively banned their fraternity for four years following the reported sexual assault and drugging of a female student at a party it hosted last October.

On Monday, Brown announced sanctions against their fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, in Sears House, and a second fraternity, Sigma Chi, in Olney House, which were found “responsible for holding unregistered parties last fall” and “creating environments that facilitated sexual misconduct,” according to a statement released by the university.

No individual member of either fraternity has been charged with sexual misconduct.

The university also announced a ban on the serving of alcohol in any residential areas — including all fraternities and sororities — pending a review this spring of its alcohol policy and social event regulations.

“The measures we are taking this spring reflect our interest in preventing sexual assault by addressing the campus climate at Brown,” reads a letter addressed to the Brown community. “All Brown community members need to be involved in preventing sexual violence, and all student organizations are expected to ensure that adequate security measures are in place to promote safe events and activities.”

Brown’s sanctions against the two fraternities followed two separate incidents, both in October, involving allegations of sexual assault at unregistered parties they hosted. The university summarizes the incidents as follows:

On Oct. 3, Sigma Chi hosted an unregistered party in the basement of Olney House in which one student reported that someone she could not identify touched her in a non-consensual sexual manner after Brown police broke up the party and students were leaving.

Following a student hearing on Oct. 31 on charges that included serving alcohol to minors, the fraternity was placed on probation and its social and university privileges were suspended until fall 2016.

On Oct. 17, Phi Kappa Psi held an unregistered party at Sears House during which two students reported drinking an alcoholic punch that contained a date-rape drug.

“One student reported an incident of non-consensual sexual contact that did not happen within the fraternity’s facility nor did it involve a member of the fraternity,” the university’s statement reads, “but its occurrence was a result of the student’s incapacitation.”

A conduct board consisting of a faculty member, a student and an administrator sanctioned Phi Kappa Psi with losing university recognition for four years, including the loss of housing. The decision was upheld on appeal.

Brown administrators had said previously that the student who was sexually assaulted had tested positive for the presence of GHB (gamma hydroxybutrate), a common date-rape drug. But after the appeal concluded, “some questions were raised regarding the validity of one laboratory test that was part of the evidence that indicated students had been given GHB,” the university said in the statement released Monday. A thorough review of the evidence will be conducted, the statement said, to determine “whether the findings and sanctions against Phi Kappa Psi should be modified.”

The university cited the fraternity’s “history of disciplinary infractions involving unauthorized events and alcohol violations” and the seriousness of the violations not in dispute as reasons for imposing the sanctions effective immediately.

A story by Rolling Stone magazine of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia and focusing on Phi Kappa Psi there made national headlines,namely because of the flawed reporting of the story.

UVA recently lifted its suspension on Greek life but announced strict new rules for fraternity parties, The Huffington Post reported.

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