No one would ever describe fraternity houses as safe places for women, but certain stories suggest just how dangerous they can be.
A University of Missouri fraternity is the latest to make headlines after members allegedly handed out date rape drugs to pledges for the sole purpose of sexually assaulting women, essentially making these women collateral damage for hazing. An investigation is underway to find out just what happened at the frat, and similar investigations have taken place at other frats in the past few years.
The allegations against the Mizzou chapter of the Delta Upsilon fraternity surfaced as part of a Title IX investigation. According to disciplinary documents obtained by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Mizzou’s Title IX Administrator Ellen Eardley said her office received reports from young women who believed they were drugged, writing in a report, “active members of Delta Upsilon fraternity allegedly provided each new member with three pills and instructed them to drug women for the purpose of incapacitating them prior to engaging in sexual activity." The drugging was allegedly required in order to "complete the initiation process.”
Leaders of the fraternity—which was already under suspension for allegedly shouting racist and sexist slurs at black female students back in September—unequivocally deny the date-rape drug claim. The investigation into racial slurs is ongoing.
"The allegations that fraternity associate members received pills to be used to incapacitate and rape women were rumors found to be unsubstantiated by the university,” said Justin Kirk, national Delta Upsilon executive director, in a statement. He did admit the fraternity was still under investigation for the racial slur incident and for an alcohol related incident, but not for "distribution or use of predatory drugs."
Mizzou spokesperson Mary Jo Banken told me over email that she could not comment on whether or not Kirk's statement was accurate, but did say the university is "investigating allegations involving this fraternity, and the fraternity has been placed on temporary suspension until the investigations are complete." Banken would not specify just what is being investigated.
These allegations would be extremely shocking if it was the first time we heard about a situation like this: but Mizzou joins a growing list of frats accused of drugging girls for fun.
Washington State University
Last month, an 18-year old woman told police she was sexually assaulted after drinking at a Delta Upsilon party at her school. The alleged victim says she tried to leave the party, but a man blocked the doorway and wouldn't let her out. As police investigated the incident, three more women came forward who believed they were drugged at the same party.
"Their level of intoxication…what they were feeling, was inconsistent with their drinking experience and what they had consumed,” Chris Tennant, the public information officer for Pullman Police, told local news station KREM. The fraternity was suspended on September 14, and the Office of Student Conduct at WSU and the Pullman police are still investigating the allegations.
In a statement, Delta Upsilon said the fraternity is taking the allegations very seriously and they vowed to cooperate with police.
Two women claimed their drinks were spiked at a Phi Psi party by a member of the fraternity in October 2014, according to a university investigation. One of the women also said she was sexually assaulted after the same party, and the two reported the incident. A toxicology report commission by the university confirmed that a common date rape drug known as GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid) was, in fact, in the system of both women.
The university suspended the chapter from campus for four years. However, the fraternity denied the allegations, and the accused member had his own toxicology expert challenge the university's report. His independent toxicologist said the original findings were inconclusive, and other independent experts brought in by the administration determined the same. As a result, Brown cut the frat's suspension in half, and no hearings were ever held for the alleged sexual assault.
Also worth noting: The accused member's father sat on Brown's board of trustees.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
In 2014, the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee was investigated by police for allegedly slipping women date-rape drugs during house parties. According to news reports, frat members would choose women based on "hotness" and mark their hands with a red "X" when they entered the party. The "X" served as a sign for the bartender to make these women a "special" drink.
The frat was suspended by the university after three women claimed they were raped after one such party. However, the only criminal charges brought were against TKE president Thomas L. Kreinbring: he was charged for possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription and marijuana, found when cops searched the frat house. Kreinbring and his lawyers fought the charges, and even claimed the UW police made everything up—including the date rape allegations.
When journalists began investigating the incident, they found this wasn't the first time this TKE chapter was accused of date raping female party-goers. In 2013, three students reported they were drugged and raped by two TKE fraternity members. Even though the alleged victims claimed there was a mountain of evidence—including one of the alleged member's best friends reportedly asking police how long it takes for date rape drugs to leave a person's system—the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office decided not to prosecute.
Kent Lovern, Chief Deputy District Attorney for the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, told FOX 6 at the time, "Sometimes the evidence just isn't there, and that was the case in this situation." According to FOX 6, in order for Kelly to prove she didn't say "yes" to sex, she needed to remember what happened to her, which she was unable to do.
University of California, Berkeley
In 2014, police began investigating Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), an off-campus fraternity at University of California, Berkeley, after five female students were allegedly plied with date rape drugs and then sexually assaulted. In the wake of the allegations, this cryptic message was hand-delivered by the fraternity to local news outlets:
Since UC Berkeley revoked official campus recognition for Delta Kappa Epsilon in 2009 after allegations of hazing, fire hazards and other student conduct violations, Berkeley city police were in charge of investigating the date rape allegations. The police department has not responded to my inquiry about the outcome of the investigation.
University of Central Florida
Members of the University of Central Florida's Delta Upsilon fraternity were accused of being on a bus with sisters of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority heading to downtown Orlando in 2011 when some of the brothers allegedly added roofies to random bottles of alcohol. According to reports, the plan was to indiscriminately hand out the bottles, then wait and see which girls got drugged.
Three members of the sorority complained about the incident, and police opened an investigation. In a written statement, one member said she saw a Delta Upsilon brother "open a two liter of soda, reach into his pocket, put his hand over the container, close the two liter, and shake it up."
The fraternity denied the allegations. Both the University of Central Florida police department and the fraternity have not yet responded to my inquiry about the outcome of the investigation.
Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.