Northwestern student speaks out after alleged drugging at fraternity house, university police still investigating

·3 min read

One of several Northwestern students who were allegedly drugged without their consent at fraternity houses this fall said she has no desire to add her voice to the choir of those demanding the eradication of Greek life on campus.

“Quite frankly, I don’t have any opinion about Greek life, and I’m not affiliated with it, but I have some friends who are, and some who are not,” the 19-year-old sophomore, Isabel, said Tuesday.

The student wrote a recent Op-Ed for the Daily Northwestern describing her experience at the emergency room of the Evanston branch of NorthShore University HealthSystem, which she said was an “ordeal” that left her feeling “belittled” and “disbelieved.”

Isabel, who said she has recovered from the alleged Sept. 24 incident at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house, said she is speaking out because this is not the first time she has experienced trauma. She said she was emotionally abused by a teacher while attending high school in New York City.

“There was some incredibly horrendous stuff going on, and I stayed silent for a long time,” she said.

Northwestern officials issued an alert Saturday to students about multiple aggravated assault cases involving students who said they were drugged at fraternity houses. The university also announced it was temporarily halting social events and recruitment activities at its fraternities.

One person reported being drugged Friday at a gathering at 2325 Sheridan Road in Evanston, the site of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, currently in its first year back after a yearslong suspension stemming from conduct the student-run Interfraternity Council in 2017 said made “the Northwestern community less and less safe.”

The alert also said the university was investigating “separate, similar reports it received on Sept. 24,” and noted “both reported locations are on-campus fraternity houses.” It reminded students that on-campus fraternity and sorority houses are alcohol-free spaces.

The report ignited protests on the Northwestern campus, with some students calling for abolition of the Greek system.

While Isabel’s Op-Ed criticized both the Evanston Fire Department’s first responders and the local hospital’s emergency department, she said Tuesday that the Northwestern Police Department and Dean of Students Mona Dugo have been helpful and supportive.

Evanston Fire Chief Paul Polep said Tuesday, “A student shared her opinion and perception in the Daily Northwestern, but our firefighters are professional in every way they can be.”

“When we get a 911 call, we do whatever is in the best interest of the patient,” Polep said. “Our folks do a great job. ... The focus of all of this should be, a person was drugged.”

NorthShore University HealthSystem spokesman Jim Anthony said Tuesday the organization is “taking this matter very seriously and are committed to providing outstanding care and treatment to all our patients across our organization.”

“NorthShore welcomes the opportunity to continue our long-standing collaboration with Northwestern University to effectively meet the health needs of their student body,” Anthony said.

Anthony declined to comment on Isabel’s case “out of respect for patient privacy.”

Despite her recent experience, Isabel said she would visit the fraternity house again but would avoid drinking anything that is being offered.

“It’s a male-dominated space, but it’s my right to be able to walk into that space, and I have friends in the house. ... I can hold my own,” she said.

Regarding the alleged perpetrators who are drugging party visitors’ drinks, she said, “my biggest question is, who is raising these kids?”

kcullotta@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @kcullotta

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