TUPD email warns of drugged drinks at off-campus parties

Greek life policies, including the Safer Parties Initiative, aim to ensure the health and safety of student at their events

On Wednesday Sept. 21, the Trinity University Police Department (TUPD) sent out a community alert about reports of students possibly being drugged at off-campus parties through their drinks. TUPD also provided safety tips to the student body in this alert to “avoid becoming a victim.”

The Sept. 21 alert was issued in response to two reports of students potentially being drugged at off-campus parties which TUPD received within a week of each other. Community safety reminders are issued to communicate potential dangers to Trinity students, according to Paul Chapa, TUPD police chief.

“It’s our obligation to generate timely warning notices when there is a threat to the campus community,” Chapa said.

The reports were about possible dangers to students because those who reported potential drugging were uncertain about the event occurring. Regardless, TUPD said they needed to exercise due diligence and investigate the reports.

“When you have two cases come together in a short period of time, … you can’t just assume that it is or isn’t a real threat to the community,” Chapa said.

When students attend off-campus parties or social gatherings, practicing safe habits help ensure students have a positive experience at Trinity. This includes, attending events in groups or with friends, knowing the address of the event, how you’re going to get home, etc.

Greek life is an ever-present social community on campus. Their parties are often attended by many Trinity students, so risk management within the Greek council carefully manages attendee safety. The Safer Parties Initiative (SPIn) exists as a foundational guideline for best practices at parties to promote health and safety at off-campus events. SPIn was created in 2016 in collaboration with Fraternity & Sorority Life, Athletics and the Dean of Students office.

“We become so comfortable on campus and we cannot assume that once we go out the gates of Trinity that it’s just as safe as Trinity,” Chapa said.

Parties and social gatherings occur on college campuses across the country and Trinity is not exempt from potential dangers at parties.

“It’s not a trending situation that we see here at Trinity. It doesn’t happen often as one would think from the national level. But we’re not immune from drugs on campus,” Chapa said.

In addition to the regulations from administration, Greek Life has adopted its own set of rules to mitigate risks at off-campus events. For example water jugs, a designated bar area where the attendant is the only person distributing drinks and the presence of sober monitors who are easy to identify and contact are required to be at events. Sober monitors ensure that everyone is OK and limit the risk of overconsumption.

In the event of an organization or individual disregarding the SPIn policy, they are subject to sanctions from risk management; Trinity University; Wills Brown, director for fraternity and sorority life; Cleighton Schedule, coordinator for fraternity and sorority life and Demitrius Brown, dean of students.

Current students may have negative experiences or observations of Greek life, but those within the organizations try to limit stereotypes by facilitating originality. Derian Mowen, junior computer science major and fraternity risk management and judicial co-chair, has observed this in his own experience.

“Every single [fraternity and sorority life] organization has a distinct atmosphere. We all provide opportunities for people to be themselves without forcing one stereotype among everyone in fraternity and sorority life,” Mowen said.

Oftentimes rumors and stereotypes grow due to miscommunications and problems that could be solved through open discussion. Katharine Heras, junior management major and Greek council co-chair, has seen this to be true in the past.

“It takes having difficult conversations to address rumors and stigmas,” Heras said.

If any student has concerns or questions about Greek life, they can also take part in the open forum section of a Greek council general meeting in Waxahachie room (CSC 237) every other week on Tuesday starting at 5:45 PM with the next meeting coming Tuesday Oct. 11. Open forum is for any non FSL student who wants to voice any concerns or suggestions to the FSL leadership in attendance.

People hosting parties and TUPD all have a role to play in attendee safety at off-campus events. There are rules in place for everyone, but it is up to the organizations and individuals to adhere to those regulations. Emma Ruchhoeft, a junior engineering major and sorority co-chair for risk management and judicial on Greek council recognizes that role.

“We want to make sure that there’s a culture of accountability, safety and knowing that no matter where you reside within the Trinity community, we’ve got your back.” Ruchhoeft said.