Over two weeks after the Yale Police Department opened an investigation into possible drink tampering at a suite party in Durfee Hall, the identity of the individual responsible for the alleged incident remains unknown.
On the evening of Oct. 12, two female first years were taken to Yale New Haven Hospital after becoming intoxicated at the suite party. One of those students tested positive for the sedative hypnotic drug Rohypnol, more commonly known as “roofies.” Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins announced the YPD’s investigation into possible drink tampering two days later, on Oct. 14, in a University-wide email.
At least four students who attended the party were dosed with the drug, according to the host of the party, who requested anonymity due the sensitivity of the situation. The host told the News that he has been interviewed twice by the YPD regarding the alleged drink tampering, but expressed frustration that the investigation has not come out with any conclusive results.
“It’s become obvious that Yale’s only plan of action was betting that this would never happen,” the host said.
Higgins did not respond to multiple requests for comment. On behalf of the YPD, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said that the matter is an “ongoing investigation,” noting that he has nothing to add to Higgins’ Oct. 14 statement. In the email, Higgins wrote that “Yale Police takes seriously any report of tampering with beverages at social events.”
In an interview with the News, the host said that when he was first interviewed on Oct. 14, the YPD officer did not ask him for a list of guests who attended the party. Last Monday, he was interviewed again by the YPD and provided a list of guests. Two days later, the host — who is below the legal drinking age — received an email from YPD Detective Thomas Mullen advising him to refrain from hosting parties with alcohol in the future.
“Although this investigation is still ongoing, in regard to the Friday night parties that you have hosted in your Durfee Hall suite, where it was learned that alcoholic beverages have been served since the beginning of the academic year, please be advised that you are not to continue with having these parties where alcohol is served,” Mullen wrote in the email.
Mullen did not respond to request for comment.
The host told the News last week that before the drink tampering occurred, his suite frequently hosted events like “wine nights” and the party on Oct. 12. On the night of the alleged drink tampering, his suite offered vodka and whiskey, as well as black tea as a mixer. The host said that like previous get-togethers, he noticed no signs of suspicious behavior at this party. He noted that his suite does not plan on hosting any more get-togethers.
In an email to the News, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd said that providing an individual with alcohol or another drug without their knowledge and consent is illegal and a “significant breach of trust, one that this community takes very seriously.” Boyd noted that drink tampering is rarely used as a method of committing sexual assault on Yale’s campus, according to data collected at Yale as a part of the Association of American Universities’ 2015 sexual climate survey.
“Monitoring food and drink is always a good idea, but it is even more important [to] have broad situational awareness, paying attention to the full range of interactions and behavior around us,” Boyd wrote in an email to the News. “By intervening when we see even low-level signs of discomfort or disrespect — as many of us do already — we can build a safer campus community.”
According to the host, the suite party was low-key. He recalled “no red flags” throughout the event. Roughly 30 first years attended the party, all of whom either lived in Durfee or were friends of its residents, according to the host. The host and another female student, who believed she was roofied, noted that they did not learn about the alleged drink tampering until the next afternoon. A third student who attended the party said she did not know about the drink tampering until a few days later. Both students asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation.
Morse Head of College Catherine Panter-Brick told the News that the YPD investigation is still ongoing, and she has to wait until Morse leadership is notified of its findings. She added that she and Morse Dean Angela Gleason “are here in Morse for any students who want to talk about what happened.”
On Oct. 14, at least one Morse FroCo invited first years to an afternoon “decompression session” in a First-Year Counselor suite. After the incident, the host told the News that Morse administrators and FroCos were “extremely supportive.”
Still, since the weekend of the incident, no update has been sent to the Morse College community, according to Morse first year Valerie Pavilonis ’22.
The host told the News that another student who was roofied at the party has been interviewed by the YPD. He said that the trauma of the incident “just isn’t over” and as the YPD continues calling students about the incident, it “won’t go away.”
“It’s become the norm that we don’t get updates on important things like this,” said Morse student Zach Stanik ’21.
Stanik said that he is frustrated that the Yale community has not received any further information, and that since the incident, he had honestly completely forgotten that it had happened.
Abhishek Srinivas ’21, vice president of Morse College Council, said he was “extremely shocked” when he first heard about the alleged drink tampering because he always viewed Morse as a “tight community.” He commended Morse leadership and FroCos for their response to the incident.
“I know the [head of college], dean and FroCos worked extremely hard to ease the situation. I believe they held open discussion sessions regarding the incident and purchased cake from Claire’s to help Durfee feel homely again,” Srinivas said. “I think the first years are feeling a bit better now, but I definitely sense that they are still a little uneasy.”
Anna Rullan Buxo ’22, a student in Ezra Stiles College, said that she was unaware of any ongoing investigation. She expressed concern that the only official update — Higgins’ Oct. 14 email to the Yale community — was “extremely vague.”
Harry Jain ’22, another Stiles student, said that the news of the drink tampering incident was initially concerning.
“It definitely made me think twice about parties and drinks at them,” Jain said.
While he said that he hasn’t thought about the incident “too much,” Jain added that it would be nice to get an official follow-up about what happened and what Yale might do to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The drink tampering did not appear to target certain individuals, the host said. While students who attended the party said they have no idea who brought the drug or how it was added to the drinks, the host said he believes the drug was added to a pitcher of black tea — which would mask Rohypnol’s blue tint.
Rohypnol is a powerful tranquilizer drug. When combined with alcohol, the drug can have lethal effects and cause central nervous system depression and unconsciousness.
Alice Park | email@example.com
Sammy Westfall | firstname.lastname@example.org