Drugged Drinks and Hateful Speech – UM Fraternity Shut Down
October 19, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. College, College Student Disciplinary Hearing, Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Sex Crimes Social Share
Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) Florida Gamma chapter was established at the University of Miami in 1949. After 70 years of acting as an established Greek community, the fraternity has been shut down due to drugging allegations and a hate speech video that surfaced.
Several students have come forward to report the alleged drugging that happened at one of the fraternity’s parties. In addition, a video has gone viral of the SigEp members chanting about sexually assaulting dead women. We will provide details about the allegations, along with information on drug possession in Florida and Title IX.
On October 1st, 2022, Sigma Phi Epsilon—one of the fraternities at the University of Miami—held an “Adult Swim” themed party at their off-campus property in Coral Gables. “Adult Swim” is the name given to Cartoon Network’s nighttime channel. This tv block is known for airing adult animated programs or live-action shows that focus on darker themes.
Several female students reported that they were allegedly drugged while at the party.
Multiple women who attended the party claimed to have noticed a white, powdery substance in their drinks. Some even reported feeling severely ill after only a few drinks.
Patrick McCaslin, UM student and editor of the university’s newspaper The Miami Hurricane, interviewed students who attended the party. “[One partygoer] described being at the party, she had a drink, and I believe she said she was by the DJ booth, and she turned and when she looked back, she noticed some sort of white powder in her drink,” McCaslin said.
Other students commented that the fraternity started spraying fire extinguishers at the party, which could have been the source of the white substance found in the drinks. “They didn’t know what it was. They also said it could have been the fire extinguisher. Who knows?” McCaslin said. “But she also said she knew a couple of people who started vomiting uncontrollably after a few drinks or blacked out.”
After the allegations surfaced on social media, several students reported their own stories that corroborated the accusations. One student, asking to only be referred to as Abby, said she and a friend had the same white powder in their drinks. After the party, Abby heard from other students that several female guests also suspected they were “roofied” while at the party.
“They had never felt that sick or they didn’t think they drank that much to get to the point where they were throwing up a lot,” Abby reported.
Another student reported hearing similar recounts from the party in her sorority’s group chat. Mary—last name withheld to avoid retribution from her sorority—described text messages in which several members were warning each other to be careful after the party. Mary said she heard about one partygoer who was vomiting uncontrollably and had difficulty staying conscious, after only consuming a few drinks.
Along with the allegations of drugging other students’ drinks, SigEp has also been criticized for their pre-party chant which was recorded and posted online. The drug allegations and video resulted in the national fraternity revoking the fraternity’s charter.
Hateful Chant Goes Viral
In addition to the alleged drugging, the fraternity was reported to school authorities after a video went viral of the fraternity members chanting a song about raping women. The video took place during the same October 1st party.
In the video posted by the Miami Hurricane, one can see the “Adult Swim” banner hanging in the background, along with a large crowd of male students belonging to the fraternity breaking out in a chant. The unanimous chant is a song that has gruesome lyrics—including digging up dead women and having sex with them repeatedly. There is also a line about keeping a victim inside a wooden box.
The video was sent to the SigEp’s National Headquarters as an anonymous tip. According to the Miami Hurricane, the UM’s Dean of Student Affairs website still lists and recognizes Sigma Phi Epsilon as a chapter in “good-standing.” However, the Senior Vice President of Student Affairs confirmed in a statement that the fraternity chapter has been closed indefinitely.
So far there have been no charges filed for the alleged drugging or potential hate speech. It is also unclear whether any of the fraternity members will face any disciplinary actions.
The Chief Communication Officer of SigEp, Heather Matthews, issued the following statement after the allegations were published:
“On Friday, the Sigma Phi Epsilon’s National Board of Directors unanimously decided to revoke the chapter of the University of Miami. The National Headquarters received admissible information that SigEp members violated policy and engaged in actions that are not aligned with the values of this Fraternity. We expect SigEp chapters to provide their members and campus community a safe and supportive environment. That’s the cornerstone of a positive Fraternity and university experience, so we take that expectation seriously and hold our chapters to that standard.”
Patricia Whitley, UM’s Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, confirmed the closure of the fraternity’s chapter in the following statement:
“The University of Miami continually communicates a clear set of policies and expectations to all of our Greek organizations that are designed to encourage a safe, healthy and positive experience for UM students. The University received allegations the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter violated university policy and participated in behavior that is inconsistent with the values and expectations of the university community and their national fraternity. We have partnered with Sigma Phi Epsilon for 73 years and we support their decision to close the chapter effective immediately.”
The University of Miami has pledged to apply sexual misconduct policies to any situation involving UM students, even off-campus. This means students are eligible to pursue disciplinary actions in a confidential report.
Possession of Flunitrazepam in Florida
The sedative flunitrazepam—also referred to as the slang word “roofie”—is a dangerous drug, notoriously used to assault, rape, or victimize another person. The drug often comes in a pill form and has been reported as getting secretly slipped into another person’s drink.
Sold under the brand name Rohypnol, flunitrazepam is an extremely powerful drug used to help sedate patients as a short-term treatment for insomnia. If the drug is mixed with alcohol, it can become very dangerous and induce amnesia. Over the years this drug has gained popularity in TV and movies, often referred to as the “date rape drug.”
Under Florida Statute section 893.03, flunitrazepam is considered a Schedule I drug, which means it is considered one of the strongest, and most dangerous controlled substances. Due to its high ranking on the Drug Schedule, getting caught in possession of flunitrazepam can result in harsh consequences.
The penalties for flunitrazepam vary, depending on the quantity of the drug that is found in actual or constructive possession. Under Florida Statute section 893.13(6)(a), simple possession of Flunitrazepam in Florida is considered a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony can result in up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
If the prosecution can prove you had enough Flunitrazepam to have the intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver to others, the penalties are more severe. Sale/intent to sell flunitrazepam is considered a second-degree felony in Florida. A second-degree felony can result in up to a $10,000 fine and up to fifteen years in prison.
If you have four grams or more of flunitrazepam found in actual or constructive possession, the prosecution can charge you with drug trafficking. Florida Statute section 893.135(g)(1) states the following:
“Anyone who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, four grams or more of flunitrazepam or any mixture containing flunitrazepam…commits a felony in the first degree, which felony shall be known as ‘trafficking in flunitrazepam.’”
The penalty for a first-degree felony in Florida is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison. Since flunitrazepam is considered an extremely dangerous drug, getting convicted of drug trafficking has mandatory minimum sentences.
The following is a list of the mandatory minimum sentences and their terms, based on how much flunitrazepam is found on the defendant:
- 4 – 14 grams: Mandatory minimum sentence of three years, with a fine of $50,000
- 14 – 28 grams: Mandatory minimum sentence of seven years, with a fine of $100,000
- 28 grams – 29 kilograms: Mandatory minimum sentence of twenty-five years, with a fine of $500,000
- 30 kilograms or more: Mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole
Title IX and UM Resources
Under the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX was the first comprehensive federal law put into place to protect university students and employees from sex discrimination at educational institutions. Title IX prohibits discrimination, exclusion, denial, limitation, or separation based on gender. Under Title IX it states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the bases of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Title IX covers any sexual violence violations as defined in the University’s Sexual Misconduct and Sex- or Gender-Based Discrimination Policy. Any relationship violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or stalking falls under the category of sexual misconduct.
- If you are a UM student or know a UM student who has had their rights violated under Title IX, you can contact the University’s Title IX coordinator at email@example.com.
- Title IX is enforced by the Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Education. You can contact the OCR branch in charge of Florida institutions at Atlanta@ed.gov.
The University of Miami will use its efforts to keep any reports anonymous. To find out more about Title IX and UM’s policies, you can read their page here.
College Student Criminal Defense
Universities across the United State have Student Conduct Codes put into place to keep students safe on and off campus. While each university has their own set of code, the following is a list of potential student conduct violations:
Violations of a Student Conduct Code can result in a Student Conduct Hearing, which can have harsh consequences such as getting expelled from the university. In more extreme cases, students could be charged with criminal violations. Student Code of Conduct hearings do not adequately protect the rights of students, which is why it is important to seek out the help of a skilled college student defense attorney in your area.
It’s extremely important for students to have a full understanding of their rights, and to know what steps to take if those rights have been violated.
Read more about College Student Criminal Defense on our informative page here.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime at your university, it is in your best interest to seek out legal help from an experienced defense attorney. Allegations against students can result in harsh consequences, such as getting expelled. In some extreme cases, students can be arrested.
Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented students across Florida for various accusations and criminal charges. Call us today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message on our website.
Written by Karissa Key