Members of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Rutgers University allegedly used Xanax to drug members of a sorority during a mixer at the start of the Fall Semester, according to documents obtained through an Open Public Records Act request.
The Daily Targum filed the records request shortly after the Rutgers chapter of Sigma Chi was shut down in November for undisclosed reasons.
Individuals submitted official testimonies to the Office of Student Conduct less than two weeks after the Sept. 16 mixer. Portions of these records were redacted by the custodian's office to protect the identities of those involved.
At the time the complaints were filed, Rutgers was already investigating the fraternity for separate policy infractions.
In light of findings from the formal review process, both the University and the national Sigma Chi organization agreed to terminate the New Brunswick chapter in late-November, according to Rutgers spokesperson Neal Buccino.
“All operations and activities of the chapter are terminated until August 2020, after which the national organization may consider establishing a chapter with new members, without the involvement of suspended members,” Buccino said. “In addition, the Sigma Chi national organization agreed to directly inform all members still on campus that, for the remainder of their undergraduate careers at Rutgers, they must cease any and all fraternity activity.”
Due to student privacy laws, Buccino said the University cannot comment on any further aspects of the student conduct investigation. At the time of publication, this was the school's only statement.
In addition to the documents obtained through the records request, The Daily Targum spoke with a student affiliated with the sorority who verified the allegations, but requested that her name not be printed.
At the start of the fall semester, she said Sigma Delta Tau, was invited to attend a mixer with Sigma Chi at one of the fraternity’s satellite houses.
“We used to mix with Sigma Chi a lot,” the source told The Daily Targum. “We had a lot of important mixers with them, like our big/little mixer, so as a sorority we were pretty comfortable with the fraternity. Then one night, at a mixer the weekend of Sept. 16, they put Xanax in the juice.”
She said the brothers of Sigma Chi were the only ones who had access to the communal container of alcohol that night.
According to the written testimony, the mixer started out as a closed event between the fraternity and sorority. Around 11:30 p.m., Sigma Chi opened the event to the public, allowing approximately 100 people into the basement of the venue. In addition to a 30 pack case of Keystone Light, the fraternity reportedly provided an orange athletic container filled with a mixture of alcohol and fruit juice.
A number of women in Sigma Delta Tau mentioned this juice “tasting funny” and having a “chalky” texture, according to the report. Within the next few hours, individuals who had consumed as little as half a cup of the substance began reacting negatively to it.
“It was stated that SDT members, about 10 of them, were left vomiting, incoherent, and some even blacked out,” the report said.
It was alleged that the juice also interfered with one individual's prescribed medication. The report states that another sorority member was “so out of it” that she lost her phone, only to find it behind a tree near the party the next day.
The anonymous source told The Daily Targum that Sigma Chi still denies that the drugging took place.
“A lot of sisters got really sick off of a minimal amount of alcohol and blacked out. Obviously OFSA (The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs) found out and they were put on cease and desist," she said. "I was not there when the girls were sick and I did not drink, but was called the night it happened.”
The side effects of Xanax — nausea, confusion, impaired memory and loss of consciousness — are similar, but more extreme than those of alcohol. The U.S. Office of Women’s Health lists Xanax as one of the three most common "date rape" drugs.
In response to request sent out on Tuesday night, the president of Sigma Delta Tau said she did not wish to comment on the matter at this time.
The University compiled the anecdotal evidence from the reports along with video footage, unnamed witnesses and text messages, according to the requested documents.
The Office of Student Conduct takes this supplementary evidence into account when deciding whether claims are serious enough to warrant a formal investigation.
On Oct. 3, an active member of a Panhellenic sorority filed a separate claim against Sigma Chi. The records office manually redacted all names and addresses from the document before releasing it to protect the safety of those involved.
“Since the Panhellenic chapters met on Sept. 26, my chapter, individuals within my chapter and myself have all been exposed to harassment,” her statement begins.
Over the next 500 words, the individual describes Sigma Chi’s efforts to target her sorority’s chapter both verbally and digitally, through texts and social media. She claims that women in the organization were threatened with defamation lawsuits, told to “watch their backs” and blamed for “taking money away from sick children.” The latter was likely a reference to the cancellation of Derby Days, a Sigma Chi fundraiser that raised over $300,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network last year.
“Girls in my chapter no longer feel comfortable with the fact that we now have to live in concern that someone is going to aggressively approach us in public, or even attempt to vandalize our home,” she wrote.
On Sept. 29, the Panhellenic Governing Council responded to Sigma Chi’s alleged “harassment” with a unified statement. The sororities in the council agreed to cut all ties to the fraternity, while still fundraising money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital as a Panhellenic community.
Sigma Delta Tau is one of the eight sororities that is represented by the Panhellenic Council.
“We will absolutely not tolerate any form of harassment,” the official statement said. “And if any occurs, we will go forward with taking further action to the Office of Student Conduct.”
The anonymous source said that as everything began to unfold, Sigma Delta Tau found itself under fire in the Greek community.
“A lot of sororities blame us for outing Sigma Chi,” she said. “The other sororities basically spread rumors without knowing what specifically happened and, even when they did know the details, they still had a bad reaction. A girl in (redacted) told one of my sisters that we shouldn’t have said anything because sig chi is ‘top tier’ and now there would be fewer parties.”
Representatives from Sigma Chi’s national headquarters and Rutgers University both signed an official memorandum of understanding on Nov. 13. The agreement indefinitely bans current members of the chapter from displaying Sigma Chi’s letters, residing in the chapter house or hosting organizational activities.
The letter adds that “any underground or ‘rogue’ activities following charter suspension are fully prohibited, and will result in expulsion from Sigma Chi.”
The Rutgers chapter of Sigma Chi did not respond to a request for comment. Shortly after being removed from campus, the fraternity posted a statement on its Facebook page.
The message reads, 'We’re not suspended… You’re suspended.'
Editor's Note: Update: On Dec. 15, the University amended its official statement to clarify that the fraternity's closure is "unrelated to allegations that Sigma Chi members spiked punch with Xanax during a party in September 2017."