Brown Sanctions Two Frats for Hosting Unsafe Alcohol Parties

Brown University sanctioned two fraternities for hosting unregistered drinking parties that it said facilitated sexual misconduct, the latest U.S. college taking measures to curb excesses in campus alcohol culture.

Phi Kappa Psi was banned from campus for four years after two students reported being served a drug-laden punch at a party in October, the university said in a statement released Monday. Sigma Chi was put on probation and recruiting and social events were suspended until fall of 2016 following an alleged sexual assault. No members at either fraternity were charged with sexual misconduct, the school said.

“The status quo of social events that place students at risk is simply not acceptable,” the Providence, Rhode Island, college said in the statement. The sanctions “reflect our interest in preventing sexual assault by addressing the campus climate.”

U.S. universities are cracking down on drinking and sexual misconduct amid scrutiny by federal authorities. More than 90 colleges, including Brown, are under government investigation for their handling of alleged campus assaults. Brown said it will review policies on alcohol and social events. Last month, a Sexual Assault Task Force challenged the school community to change the “current norms and culture” to foster a safe environment for all students.

Date-Rape Drug

The two students at the Phi Kappa Psi party reported being served an alcoholic punch that contained the date-rape drug gamma hydroxybutyrate, a party drug known as liquid ecstasy. One said she had been sexually assaulted by a non-fraternity member as a result, according to Brown’s statement.

At Sigma Chi, a student reported being sexually touched while leaving the basement at an unregistered party on Oct. 3. She was unable to identify the alleged assailant, Brown said.

Since the December hearing over the incident at Phi Kappa Psi, questions have been raised about a lab test used to detect GHB. Brown said it will review the sanctions against the fraternity when it has more information. The school went ahead with the immediate ban because of violations that aren’t in dispute and because of past disciplinary infractions involving alcohol at the fraternity.

Calls and e-mails seeking comment from the two fraternities at Brown or their national organizations weren’t immediately returned.

A chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was at the center of Rolling Stone’s now-discredited story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. The magazine apologized for the article in December, citing “discrepancies” in the account.