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Phi Psi house, student rooms raided by Public Safety

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Public Safety officers and two deans raided two student rooms and the Phi Psi fraternity house after receiving a “credible report of questionable activity,” Director of Public Safety Michael Hill and Associate Director for Investigations Beth Pitts told the Phoenix in an interview Monday. A separate room search was conducted at the beginning of this semester, which resulted in the confiscation of drugs and paraphernalia. These two searches have been the only room searches over the past two years, Hill said, but the increase could reflect a trend.

On Thursday Lili Rodriguez, associate dean of diversity, inclusion and development, and Rachel Head, assistant dean for residential life, along with Hill and Pitts, conducted a search of the Phi Psi house.

A student tip-off prompted the searches, which looked for drugs and evidence of drug use. Paraphernalia was confiscated from the Phi Psi house, marijuana was found in one student’s room and a white powder was found in another, Hill reported.

As a result of the search, Hill said, the deans decided to shut down the Phi Psi house based on concerns about safety, cleanliness, and egress. The house was closed for social events and will be opened again, Head wrote to the Phoenix in an email, “as soon as a plan is in place to clean the house.”

Pitts confirmed that an investigation is ongoing that could result in a College Judiciary Committee trial for the two students. Hill said that while Swarthmore borough police were notified of the incident due to the nature of the discovery, it was simply “not true” that students were handed over to police. “We don’t like to get police involved,” Hill said, “but we will when necessary.”

“My concern with drug use is that it involves other behaviors that are dangerous,” Hill said. Serious violent drug-related incidents occurred at the college in 2004 and 2009.

“One student who goes to to a hospital in an incident is one too many,” he continued.

Head said that “if we become aware of a situation that leads us to be concerned about the health or safety of the community, we will investigate that situation and take appropriate action if necessary.”

A Phoenix article published a month ago reported on the emergence of molly as a party drug on campus. Concerned that it gave the impression of “rampant” drug use on campus, Hill said that he was “not happy” with the article and the publicity it could give to the college. The article was not, Hill asserted, impetus for the searches.

When asked why there have been two searches this semester, Hill attributed the spike in searches to “a shift in community standards.”

“We act on information,” he said, “we don’t arbitrarily search rooms.” Hill speculated that increased reporting was related to streamlining the reporting process and a shift in community norms as to what is acceptable drug-related behavior.

In keeping with Head’s statements that the college will investigate concerns of student health or safety, Hill cited the keys and locks section of the student handbook, which states that “any dean may enter and inspect a resident hall room without the resident’s consent, if there is reason to believe that any College regulation is being or has been violated.”

Phi Psi declined to comment and Rodriguez could not be reached for comment.

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