Phi Psi & Student Dorms Drug Bust Reflects Trend of Increased, More Open Reporting

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

On Thursday, February 27th, Public Safety confiscated illegal substances and paraphernalia found in the Phi Psi fraternity house and two student dorm rooms after receiving a tip from a credible source that same day.

According to Director of Public Safety Mike Hill, the Dean’s Office was supportive of the investigation and encouraged Public Safety to search the rooms of the two students after the tip was given.

This was the second case concerning confiscation of illegal substances and paraphernalia this semester, and the incident points to an increase in the complaints that Public Safety receives about drug use on campus, particularly concerning marijuana smoke inside the dorms.

“There are ramifications involved with the decisions that people make,” Hill said.

According to Hill, this rise in complaints reflects a more general shift in the way people are reporting more actively and confidently.

“The College has done a lot in dealing with sexual assault – that’s part of it. Students in general are starting to hear that they should report more. That’s a good thing,” he said.

Beth Pitts, Associate Director of Investigations to Hill, added that students who are not participants in this activity might be complaining more about the odors of marijuana inside their dorms simply because it disrupts their daily lives.

According to Hill, Swarthmore Police has been made aware of the matter but hasn’t communicated to the College if they plan on pursuing the case.

In cases such as this one, Swarthmore Police’s approach is determined by the evidence found by Public Safety. According to Hill, this translates to the quantity and nature of the drug, as well as what the College decides is the right approach as an institution.

The two students involved might be seeing a possible adjudication and future meeting with drug and alcohol counselors, Hill said.

In the meantime, Hill plans to start a conversation with the community on the norms concerning drug use at the College in order to make sure that students make informed decisions.

“There is an inherent risk that comes with drug use – impaired judgement, assaults, poor academic results,” he said. Hill sees drug use as an issue affecting many aspects of student life, and last week’s drug busts reflect this attitude.

















  1. I’d say that the busts reflect a trend of greater infringement on individual liberty, to wit the invasion of personal privacy in one’s home.

    Swarthmore Police is probably far more concerned about the unlawful means of seizure and its almost certain inadmissibility in court.

    • I’m pretty sure the Swarthmore Police doesn’t give a shit about the College cracking down on illegal behavior…

      In addition, you might want to read the law (aka me). Swarthmore is a private college and thus has the ability to establish its own rules regarding searches of dormitories owned by them. If you take a look at the readily available and searchable student handbook, you’d find that in order to live on campus, Swarthmore students agreed to the condition that their rooms may be searched at any time if there’s reason to believe that the residents have violated a college policy.

      Alcohol (for minors) and drugs are illegal. Swarthmore isn’t above the law. Swarthmore students aren’t above the law. Period.

      • The Law,
        Vague clauses that infringe on the right to privacy should not be the resort of a liberal arts college. If criminal behavior is really happening, PSafe should contact the real police, who have actual training and experience in conducting searches. This is just another example of Swarthmore performing a function best left to professionals.

      • Hi “The Law,”

        I would like to point out some flaws in your observation. While the college does own the dormitory rooms in which we live, I would liken this to leasing out an apartment. When someone leases out an apartment, they pay rent and while that space doesn’t belong to them, the fact that they are paying to live there gives them the right to some reasonable expectation of privacy. We pay to live in these rooms, but I have not heard of an instance in any of these cases where Public Safety has had a warrant of what it is they were searching for. If Public Safety does not have a warrant, this places no limitations on what they are allowed to search for, which gives them an unlimited scope of power over students’ privacy.

        If you look at the student handbook even more closely, the right to search rooms is given to deans, not Public Safety. There is also a difference beetween looking inside a room, ie, what a person can see in plain sight, and searching through a room, which requires moving items around. Looking throuh a room is what the handbook says Public Safety cab do. There’s a huge difference between looking and searching. Take an even closer look at the handbook, and you will find no mention of “warrants,” “probable cause,” or even “reasonable suspicion. ”

        Yes, I agree that Swarthmore students aren’t above the law, but neither is the college. If the college, in the very handbook that you have mentioned, recognizes us as adults with rights, they should treat us that way.


        Check Your Facts

        PS: The handbook isn’t the law, but it should conform to the fourth amendment, which is actually the law.

        • Swarthmore is a private institution and thus the Fourth Amendment does not apply to them (our employees are not state actors). Since Public Safety officers are not actors of the state, they don’t need a warrant to search a room. If Public Safety was a campus police force, then things would be different.

          Also one can argue that the handbook is law as students agree to the terms of the handbook in order to attend Swarthmore. It’s a contract.

          I’d recommend running a quick Google search on this issue as there’s a ton of information out there. Within a few minutes I was able to find a paper from the University of Connecticut outlining all of the relevant law (‎).

          • Even if they aren’t state actors, the terms in the handbook do not specify what constitutes a credible tip. Even if students agree to the terms of the handbook, the handbook itself says:

            “Public safety officers, custodial staff, maintenance workers, and their supervisors, as well as resident assistants, have keys to all residence hall rooms and use them only in the course of fulfilling duties. In addition, any dean may enter and inspect a residence hall room without the resident’s consent if there is reason to believe that any College regulation is being or has been violated.”

            The right to search rooms is given to deans, not PSafe. In searching the rooms, Public Safety was arguably “fulfilling its duties,” but even that term is vague. Furthermore, if I have a bag in the room, which is my private property, does that give them the right to open the bag and glance inside? Or can they open zippers inside the bag too? What I’m getting at is that without specifications as to what PSafe can look through, “fulfilling duties” is open to a lot of interpretation, which can lead to a violation of privacy.

          • It is also interesting to note that the case was referred to Swarthmore PD. Does this make PSafe an agent of the state? Will the seizure of the evidence have to conform to the fourth amendment then?

  2. I don’t understand why public safety is worried about drug busts when there is a middle aged African American man with a pet python running around Swarthmore PA taking every bank, including your very own franklin credit union, for ransom!!








  3. Leave it to the Imperial guards to ruin an honest Nord’s life. How am I supposed to get my supply of moonsugar and skooma with all of these guards meddling in everyone’s affairs? Looks like those of us wanting some skooma will have to make the dangerous journey down to Riften and tussle with the Theives Guild now. Talos have mercy on us all.

    • Once M’aiq got into trouble in Dana, and fled to Mary Lyon. It is good that nobody there cared.

      The Khajit caravans pass by M’aiq’s dorm sometimes. They sell many things, even sticks made of fish.

      Much snow in Swarthmore. Enough snow. M’aiq does not want it anymore.

      M’aiq is tired now. Go bother somebody else.

  4. @thebarn

    I agree! Great point!! I am also very concerned about the sex layer found in ML basement. Can someone shed some light on that? Maybe @Danawell Trailer?

    • While the ML sex lair is certainly problem, I am really surprised that no one has directed any attention to the secret tunnels that were built from the Danawell Trailer attic to every room on campus! Talk about conspiracy! Anyone with excess to the Danawell trailer attic could be meddling through your stuff right now!!! I propose a new movement: #burnDANAWELLattic

      Also there is a huge stray cat problem up here and its keep up my residents. @workbox

  5. It’s reassuring to see that Public Safety is performing drug raids around campus. Because drugs are the rampant problem that need prompt attention and swift action at Swarthmore. Clearly a better use of its time, energy, and resources than competently investigating claims of sexual assault.

    Perhaps if those reporting sexual assaults over the course of Hill’s tenure had given tips that could lead to a drug bust they would have received a timely and comprehensive investigation!








  6. The administration has proven time and time again that they have zero understanding of legal matters and even their own college handbook. Dean’s Braun and Head have become enemies of students and are simply not to be trusted. Mike Hill and his public safety goons have time and time again acted in a disgusting and sexist manner towards female students and shown an unwillingness to be transparent to students. As well as this they have displayed an utter disregard for laws, whether they be school or state. Mike Hill is known to have tampered with evidence and ought to be fired.

    As the alum above correctly states,”Swarthmore Police is probably far more concerned about the unlawful means of seizure and its almost certain inadmissibility in court.”

    • Be careful throwing Dean Head under the bus here…not sure what she has done wrong here. She advocates in the best interests of the students more than any dean I know.

  7. PSafe is focusing on the wrong issue here. Mike Hill is right to point out that there are inherent dangers that come from drug use. But the energy that PSafe has put into stopping drug use on campus is disproportionate. Their focus should be on stopping sexual crime.

    Of course, there is a connection between drug use and sexual assault and harassment incidence. I’m not an expert, but I imagine fewer drugs would mean less assault. But why is PSafe prioritizing this oblique angle, while refusing to address the immediate safety needs of students on campus?

    While I appreciate the work that Mike Hill and his team are doing to make Swarthmore safer, I have personally witnessed PS officers harassing female students who have complained about safety issues on Saturday nights.

    If they really want higher reporting rates, Public Safety should be putting their resources into training their personnel to treat concerned students with respect. Maybe then they can develop a supportive, trusting relationship with the student body.

    Ridding campus of drugs is a noble enough cause, but it’s not what we need most. Public Safety: start advertising a safe walk system. Start keeping sexual criminals out of our parties. And please, please start treating us with respect.

  8. Swarthmore College could learn a thing or two from Toronto’s great success during my time as mayor. They need to clean up their streets and get rid of that installment next to their dining hall. Really. It’s absurd.

    Also, why can’t we bring some of the attention over to my brothers at Delta Oops I joined??? I think they have played a prominent role in the drug scene as well so why give Phi Psi all the credit.

    Why, just the other day one of their officers told me

    “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But do I? Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago”
    – DU brother

  9. “In addition, you might want to read the law (aka me). Swarthmore is a private college and thus has the ability to establish its own rules regarding searches of dormitories owned by them. If you take a look at the readily available and searchable student handbook, you’d find that in order to live on campus, Swarthmore students agreed to the condition that their rooms may be searched at any time if there’s reason to believe that the residents have violated a college policy.”

    “The Law” seems not to know the law.

    1) Even though Swarthmore is a private college, they can only establish their own rules within reason, and that reason must abide by the laws of the state.

    2) The handbook specifically says deans may enter rooms at anytime, but not public safety. When public safety acts in the role of the PD they need a warrant otherwise they’ve broken the law. Classic Mike Hill amirite??????








  10. Dear all,

    I am so sorry that you all have to deal with the wrath of my “helicopter” brother. As a kid, he would consistently rat on me to our parents that I would take 2 extra oreos after dinner. He didn’t even have proof! Sounds familiar? Let me just warn you all that it does not stop here. Not even close. Next thing you know you will sit down to take a dump in a stall and he will suspended mid air above you making sure that no drugs are being consumed!! I overheard deans talking that he has bugged the entire dorm of Kyle. God knows the reason. Now is when we start the revolt. Not next week, not during the pansexual takeover, NOW!!!


    – Mark Jackson Hill XVI

  11. Who the hell is moderating these forums!?

    I’m out here grinding just trying to get my sweat on and you out here like sorry sista!

    Can’t keep a bad bitch down for long.

  12. Michael! Come home for dinner. I made a nice Tuna Casserole that took me HOURS to whip up. Your father and I were planning on having a big boy conversation with you after we eat (hint hint: the birds and the bees). Also, I don’t appreciate you and your friends rummaging through my underwear drawer again. That is Mommy’s personal space.


    – Mommy

  13. Probably the most concerning thing about this is how absurd this would have sounded a couple years ago. One of the main factors that pushed me to go to Swarthmore was its seemingly realistic attitude about substance use and college students. My first year, public safety was there for exactly their namesake: The public’s safety. Recent event this last year and currently have really cast the school’s priorities as being similar to a typical college: don’t drink underage or do drugs, we’re out to get you. Maybe public safety forgets that their namesake implies their purpose, and that one of the mottos on Parrish is “use well thy freedom”. These recent actions are a breach of both the purpose of PSafe and also hypocritical to the school’s previous stances. Public safety should start doing their job by being there for the public’s safety, not performing useless and unnecessary “drug busts”.

    • I absolutely agree that a relatively laissez-faire attitude towards alcohol and the like is realistically the best policy–keeping it on campus and focusing on responsible use and getting help to those who need it, etc. I’m not sure where the line ought to be drawn regarding searching rooms, but it’s definitely true that pot smoke wafting around can be obnoxious at best and actively harmful to those with asthma and the like. There were a number of times I left or avoided certain places on campus because of the smell, and I would never want that to be someone’s dorm room.

      I don’t know if these particular students were smoking in the dorm, but that definitely does happen sometimes, and it’s at least a very un-neighborly thing to do.

  14. Haha this is so funny
    Swarthmore students Does worst shit than this and now since people choose to snitch now marijuana is damaging and currupting these precious students
    Swarthmore needs to wake up and take attention off of the dumb shit like this case

  15. Thanks for the article Cristina.

    Does anyone know what “illegal substances and paraphernalia” means in this particular instance?

    I’m against Public Safety going in to the frat to confiscate a bong. I’m all for Public Safety going in to confiscate harder drugs, like cocaine. Even as an alum, I’ve heard rumors that coke is becoming prevalent at the frat in question. Surely some students on campus have heard this?

    If more students are starting to do coke, then in my opinion that’s something that should be nipped in the bud as early and emphatically as possible. I suspect that’s what Public Safety is trying to do here, and I support that.

    A few years ago, the campus pot dealer and a former frat brother were arrested in Philadelphia in possession of a TON of weed and coke, and faced serious academic and criminal consequences. I’m all for smoking a joint with friends, but the college shouldn’t create an environment where students feel entitled to move/consume large amounts of substances with impunity. That’s bad for the college and ultimately bad for students.

    • Hi Alumn. In this case, “illegal substances and paraphernalia” only meant weed paraphernalia. From what I heard, there was no substances (weed or coke) found in the frat in question.

  16. Frankly I think it’s about time that public safety has busted down doors and knocked some heads.

    These students are getting out of control. It’s a 24/7 drug-infested satanic orgy. I pray everyday for someone to come and clean our streets.

    Blood! I want blood! And justice! Mountain justice! Valley justice! Justice!

    If you want see more evidence of this, see here:

  17. It’s been about time that public safety started busting down doors and knocking heads.

    The students on this campus are getting out of control. It’s a 24/7 drug-infested satanic orgy, and for the longest time no one was doing anything to stop it. Everyday I was praying that someone would come and clean these crime-ridden streets.

    And we shouldn’t stop here.

    I want blood! Blood! No mercy for drug fiends! I say knock down every door and confiscate every piece of paraphernalia until I feel safe!

  18. swathmore is very relaxed with weed and drugs on campus. i smoked freely when i was there for four years and public safety even was chill. best place to be.

  19. yeah swat is a place for college kids who just wanna eat, sleep, drink, blaze, fuck, and party. Swarthmore is ranked # 3 not only for academics but for the fact that underage drinking is perfectly fine and ok. the school actually encourages minors to participate in “pub nite”, which is the best because underage underclassmen are only required to pay 4 bucks and seniors is only 3 for All the booze you could handle all in one room for 4 or 3 dollaz

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Phoenix

Discover more from The Phoenix

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading