The Yale Police Department is investigating a report of possible drink tampering at an on-campus party last Friday, according to Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins. Higgins informed the Yale community of the incident in a campuswide email on Sunday evening.
The alleged drink tampering occurred at a suite party in Durfee Hall, according to three students who attended the party. Two female students who drank beverages at the party were taken to Yale New Haven Hospital late Friday night, and one tested positive for the drug Rohypnol, a powerful tranquilizer drug better known by its street name “roofie,” according to the host of the party, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. The host said at least two more students who attended the party, including himself, were dosed with the drug at the event. Those responsible for the alleged incident have not yet been identified.
“We feel so betrayed, everyone in Durfee has their jaw on the ground,” the host said. “It’s fucking horrifying … It could’ve been someone we know. There was no clear target.”
Rohypnol is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine, which acts as a central nervous system depressant and is often used to facilitate sexual assault, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland. When the drug is mixed with alcohol, risk of blackout, respiratory depression and death heightens. Federal law prohibits the possesion and distribution of Rohypnol.
In the University-wide email, Higgins said that the Yale Police takes seriously any report of tampering with beverages at social events. YPD opened an investigation into the incident on Sunday morning, the host said. University spokeswoman Karen Peart did not have anything to add and Higgins could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.
The host told the News that his suite often holds parties like Friday’s get-together, but he had noticed “no red flags” throughout the party. Roughly 30 first years attended the event, most of whom reside in Durfee or were friends of its residents. After the party ended around 11:30 p.m., two female students vomited on the Old Campus quad and were taken to the hospital, the host said.
“We feel like Durfee is a really safe space, so it’s hard to think about that being compromised, especially because most of the people at the party were our good friends, although on this night it’s true that there were more non-Durfee people there,” said another party attendee, who was not drugged and also requested to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation.
The host and other attendee told the News the alcohol had not been tampered with while it was being set up. The host said he woke up “not remembering anything, feeling awful” with burn marks on his stomach, but he did not learn about the alleged drink tampering until late Saturday afternoon.
Party attendees interviewed by the News said they are especially concerned because Rohypnol can have lethal effects when combined with alcohol. The host said he does not know who brought the drug or how it was added to drinks. But, since the only alcoholic drinks served were handles of Svedka and whiskey, he believes the Rohypnol must have been added to something everyone at the party was drinking from. The host said the drug may have been added to a pitcher of black tea being used as a mixer.
A female student who believes she was drugged at the party but did not seek medical attention said she acted very erratically after leaving the Friday get-together. While she said she had been drugged in the past, she was unaware of the drink tampering until she learned that another student had tested positive for Rohypnol. Both the host and the female student said that while they “weren’t that drunk” after the party, they believed they were drugged because they did not remember many of the events that occurred that night — events including “crashing a sorority crush,” buying food at Mamoun’s Falafel and returning home.
The host noted that one Yale police officer interviewed him about the drink tampering on Sunday morning. But according to the host, the police officer did not ask for a list of guests at the party.
On Sunday, Morse first-year counselors hosted a group session for first-year Morsels, according to Durfee resident Valerie Pavilonis ’22.
Head of Morse College Catherine Panter-Brick told the News that she and Dean Angela Gleason have been actively supporting their students “at this difficult time.” The host said the Morse administration and FroCos were “extremely supportive” in response to the incident.
The Yale community was formally alerted of the incident on Sunday at 6:13 p.m.
Ananya Kachru ’22, a student who lives in Durfee, said that she feels incredibly shocked and unsafe given that this incident occurred very close to her suite. Kachru said she is concerned about the timing of the email given “the possibility of date rape drugs being on campus during Saturday night parties, as well.”
In this alert, Higgins called for anyone with information to contact the University Police.
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Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article stated that University spokeswoman Karen Peart did not respond to comment Sunday evening. In fact, Peart responded Sunday night but did not have anything to add.