The victim expressed frustration with TU’s lack of action in response to the allegations.
A petition circulated campus last week pleading for TU to act against fraternity Sigma Nu following allegations that they had been tampering with drinks at their party on Sept. 25. So far, only one victim has reported their drink being tampered with to Campus Security, who is still investigating the situation. This victim, a freshman involved in Greek life, wishes to remain anonymous. They recount their experience the night of their suspected drugging and their subsequent interactions with TU during the investigation.
Sept. 25 was a game day, and the victim had been hanging out with their sorority sisters. At 10:30 p.m., they started their night at Sigma Nu, where they noticed “a bad vibe once [they] got there.”
They assumed Sigma Nu registered their party, so they made sure they had their student ID. However, outside the door, they noted the lack of Campus Security, who usually stands outside of fraternities for registered parties and checks student IDs for partygoers’ age. If someone entering a party is under 21, they receive a wristband. The fraternity had posted flyers advertising this party, so the victim and their friends assumed the party would have an officer that had checked on everyone inside.
“I would feel safe going to the frat if there was an officer, but there wasn’t one,” the victim says.
Instead of Campus Security, the victim reports only a few assumed fraternity members at the entrance. One member was on a laptop, another checked IDs and several sat on the porch.
Inside the fraternity, the victim recalls a sizable crowd. “There were probably, like, 50 or 60 on the dancefloor and 20 people in the hall waiting,” they recount. “Everyone was hammered. Even at the beginning of the night, people were hammered.”
Because “the vibe felt very off,” the victim and their sorority sisters stayed for an hour, and they had only one drink. At 11:15 p.m., the victim left Sigma Nu and went to Kappa Alpha, where they drank half of their sorority sister’s beer. Then, at midnight, they returned to Sigma Nu and sipped a drink they opened. At first, the drink tasted as expected, but when they drank it later, they “realized as soon as [they] took a sip that something was wrong.”
“I had a very bad feeling,” they report. “I made all of my sisters leave, throw out their drinks and take me to the steps of another frat so that my brother could take care of me.”
They opened the drink for themselves, did not set it down and did not allow anyone else to touch it. “I think what happened is that I was dancing with one of my sisters, and I had my arm and my drink around her back so I couldn’t see [my drink],” they say. “That’s the only time I could imagine that someone could put something in it, unless it was tampered with before I opened it.”
The suspected tampered drink was a Truly, a hard seltzer that contains 5% ABV (Alcohol by Volume). This amount of alcohol is the equivalent of drinking a beer, but within 30 minutes, the victim reports they felt “blackout drunk.” Studies suggest the effects of Rohypnol onset within 15 to 20 minutes. Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) can take 15 minutes to feel the impact, and the effects of Ketamine, a date-rape drug growing in popularity, start very quickly, sometimes within a minute after ingestion.
The victim and their friends left the party around 12:30 a.m. with no further incident. Their brother, a senior at TU, took care of them for the rest of the night.
In summary, the victim had one drink from Sigma Nu at 10:30 p.m, they left at 11:15 p.m. for Kappa Alpha, where they drank half of a beer, and around 12:00 a.m., they returned to Sigma Nu and opened a can of Truly, which tasted fine at first. After dancing with a sorority sister and sipping their Truly, they could taste a difference in the drink, started feeling “blackout drunk” and were helped out of Sigma Nu by their sorority sisters at approximately 12:30 a.m.
The next day, Sept. 26, the victim and their brother reported the suspected drink tampering to Campus Security. The victim claims the officer told them that he would be in contact by Thursday (Sept. 30). However, two weeks came by, and the victim had not heard anything regarding their report.
“It took me going into Campus Security’s office and making a scene to even talk to an officer about checking on my report,” the victim complains. “They basically told me, ‘We’re not going to be able to do anything else until you make a full police report.’”
In general, the victim believes the campus has not offered adequate accountability. They and their brother emailed the Interim Dean of Students, Michael McClendon, on Sept. 27. They did not receive a response and emailed again on Oct. 28 and 29. They and 20 of their sorority sisters supposedly sent emails. In these emails, they pleaded for action, inquiring why the university had not done anything regarding these reports—and despite this onslaught of messages, they did not receive a response.
“It took us emailing Brad Carson about it to hear anything on campus, and all we heard was ‘I’ll look into it,’” they say.
Following their email to Carson, the victim met with the Associate Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator. After the victim described their experience, the officials they met with “basically said that [the victim] didn’t have enough evidence to do anything, and once [they] made a police report something might happen.”
Though the university expressed regret toward the situation, the victim realizes the reality of their position: “One person coming forward with not enough evidence isn’t going to make anything happen. I’ve met with three other victims from that night. I know there are more victims. . . but you can’t force someone to report. You can only talk to them so much.”
“TU set me up with a Title IX counselor—that’s the only true support they’ve given me, and she’s been amazing,” the victim says. “Our counseling services are really good, and that’s the only thing I’ve found helpful.”
“During [orientation week], you’re told all the help available: here’s all of our services, and here’s an app,” the victim continues. “But when you get down to it, I was in trouble. I needed help, and they didn’t help me. They haven’t been helping me.”
“It’s good they have these services, but unless you use them and actively help your students, you’re not a helpful university. You’re not keeping them safe. You’re just doing enough to make you look good.”
The victim’s brother told them about the Sarah Marshall case that occurred over the summer. Two years ago, Sarah Marshall experienced sexual assault at one of the frat houses. She reported the incident to Campus Security, met with the university’s officials and spread her story on social media about the lack of action coming from TU. In her account to Channel 8, her assaulter’s penalty was a consent workshop, online trainings and community service. Months later, she says the school told her he did not complete the online training, and despite her pushing for a progress report, she received no more information. The pattern seems to continue: like the victim who reported the alleged drink tampering, Marshall, too, felt ignored and her mental and physical safety neglected by the university.
The victim says the other frats have been supportive. “A few guys from [Lambda Chi Alpha] told me they want to help because they knew the university isn’t going to do anything,” the victim remembers. “Kappa Sigmas have been amazing—they’ve fought for me. The frats themselves have been more helpful than the university.”
The University of Tulsa is not the only school experiencing drink tampering allegations against Sigma Nu. The University of Southern California’s Sigma Nu fraternity suspended its chapter president following the report of six students who were drugged at a party. As a response to victim reports and a potential sexual assault, USC’s Department of Public Safety has furthermore placed the fraternity on interim suspension, and their Sigma Nu chapter is currently not permitted to host activities.
“It’s really scary we have to worry about [drink tampering] now,” the victim of drink tampering at the University of Tulsa says. “We should’ve been worried before.”
The victim offers advice to future partygoers and further emphasizes going with a group of friends. “The only reason I made it out of [Sigma Nu] is because my sisters were looking out for me,” they say. Their sorority sisters paid attention to their surroundings and noticed the victim seemed “off.”
If anyone feels uncomfortable in a situation, leaving and trusting any suspicions is imperative, according to the victim. Having familiarity with the layout of a fraternity house is also essential: “Don’t go in if you don’t know your way out,” the victim advises.
“We can’t stop people from drugging us, but we can stop people from taking advantage of us,” the victim says. “We can be there for each other and help each other.”
“I did everything right,” they continue. “I did what I was trained to do because [drink tampering] has happened to me before. If it was someone else, I don’t know what the consequences would’ve been.”
The victim made a police report on Oct. 14, and they are waiting to receive their case number. They have not received an update from the Tulsa Police Department.
The Collegian reached out again for a comment from Sigma Nu regarding these allegations and received no response. Sigma Nu has an open invitation from The Collegian to write an article or offer a statement on their behalf.
If any victims of drink tampering or any other misconduct wish to report their experiences, the University of Tulsa directs them to the Title IX office, the Dean of Students or Campus Security so that any allegations may be investigated fully.
Pauli Younger (Kelly)
Interim Dean of Students