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Students show symptoms of drugging after formal

Maddi O’NeillEditor-in-Chief

Security and Protective Services (SPS) has identified nine students who may have been drugged at an off-campus party on Dec. 12, just before finals week of last semester.

Director of SPS Steve Glick said the party, which took place at 947 Spink St., has been identified as the Phi Omega Sigma formal.

The Phi Omega Sigma fraternity’s charter has been suspended pending an investigation into the incident.

College President Georgia Nugent wrote in a Dec. 16 email to campus that the group’s charter was suspended in part because the formal was hosted during reading days and because alcohol was “illegal[ly]” distributed there.

Glick declined to comment on whether specific suspects had been identified in the alleged drugging.

“We [SPS] have developed a working theory as to what probably happened and that’s where we’re heading,” said Glick. 

“We’re still looking into it. We’re taking it seriously,” he said. 

Glick said the investigation has been supported by a “very good response from folks who were involved. All the victims have been straightforward.”

Angela Johnston, administrative director of student life and Title IX coordinator, said that, to her knowledge, “None of the students who came forward to report symptoms of drugging have alleged that they were sexually assaulted that night.”

In her initial email to campus alerting students of the reported drugging, Johnston mentioned that a sexual assault was also reported at 947 Spink St. over the weekend. Johnston has now said that incident was separate from the drugging and occurred on Dec. 11.

Johnston also said a Title IX investigator will not be involved in the drugging investigation because both males and females reported symptoms of being drugged.

 “Since there were no allegations of sexual misconduct connected specifically to this incident, and because it does not appear that a specific gender was targeted … Title IX does not apply,” she said.

Trevor Shoemaker ’16, the president of Phi Omega Sigma, said in a statement on behalf of the fraternity that the College’s “rush” to suspend the organization’s charter after the incident had implied that the group was to blame without adequate evidence.

“Despite The College of Wooster’s concerted efforts to provide a safe and hospitable environment for all its students, the rush to place blame — albeit through implication — before gathering information has created a prevailing zeitgeist of late on this campus that can be described as hostile and uncomfortable for members of our organization.”

The statement denied that any member of the fraternity was responsible for the Dec. 12 incident.

The Phi Omega Sigma fraternity will not be able to initiate a new pledge class or hold activities on- or off- campus while its charter is suspended, said Johnston.

Johnston said decisions about whether to file judicial charges against the fraternity or anyone else will only be made after the SPS investigation is complete.

SPS’s investigation into the incident is distinct from an investigation being undertaken by the Wooster Police Department.

Captain Scott Rotolo of the WPD said he could not provide detailed information because the police investigation is ongoing.

“I can say that if we had any information that led us to believe the students at The College of Wooster, or our community as a whole, were at risk, we would most assuredly share that information,” Rotolo said.

Public records indicate that Wooster police visited 947 Spink St. more than a dozen times in 2015 for various complaints, including noise disturbances and fights.

College administrators have been aware of the issues at the property for some time, Glick said.

Johnston said administrators are working with Wooster city officials to address “both College and community concerns.”

Because the house is off-campus, the College has little control over what goes on there.

“On-campus, there are policies and practices intended to keep students safe,” Johnston said. 

“Off-campus, the College does not have the same authority or opportunity to protect students. So, yes, the environment at off-campus parties does present greater concerns for student safety,” she said. 

Johnston said the student activities division will work to provide alternative, alcohol-free events for students on weekends.

Glick and Johnston both said the College does not have evidence that increased enforcement of alcohol policy has pushed students to off-campus parties.

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