As it turns out, I’m not the only one hoping that the widespread media coverage of date rape drugging will die down a bit. A fraternity on the University of Arizona campus has been accused of sabotaging 10,000 campus newspapers in order to cover up a small item in which a woman alleged having been drugged and possibly sexually assaulted at one of the frat’s parties.

The copies of the Arizona Daily Wildcat containing the offending “Police Beat” item were apparently removed from their racks and strewn on the outskirts of campus shortly after publication on Oct. 8. The Daily Wildcat pinned the sabotage on the fraternity named in the piece, Phi Kappa Psi, after the Spanish homework of members Alex Cornell and Nick Kovaleski surfaced at the site of the discarded newspapers—-a revelation the Phoenix New Times astutely notes mirrors a plot point from the 1998 film The Big Lebowski. The New Times phoned Phi Kappa Psi President Keith Peters “to find out if two ‘pledges’ were really dumb enough to steal 10,000 free newspapers and then leave their homework with the stolen stash.” Peters declined to comment.

The student paper later received less hilarious evidence linking Phi Kappa Psi to the crime—-e-mails from friends and relatives of fraternity members confirming that the theft was engineered “under the orders of fraternity leadership.” Despite the paper’s leads, the University of Arizona Police Department closed the case “without questioning any Phi Psi members.”

Nevertheless, the prank has directed significant campus attention to the original item, a modest 250-word crime brief. It’s clear that Phi Kappa Psi severely miscalculated their damage control over the drugging accusations. Even on a college campus, a straight item on an attempted date rape will hardly cause a stir. An item on a fraternity’s elaborate—-and absurdly botched—-plan to keep that attempted date rape item hush-hush, on the other hand? People actually care about that.

But let’s get back to the reason this 10,000 paper cover-up is so offensive in the first place: Apparently, the fraternity really, really, really didn’t want people to know that its parties may feature date rape drugs. Below is the original crime report that Phi Kappa Psi was so afraid of getting out there. (Heads up for the future, boys: Newspapers are on the Internet these days). According to the alleged victim’s testimony, she experienced symptoms of GHB after attending a Phi Kappa Psi party in September:

The woman claimed that on arrival, a fraternity member she knew gave her a drink. Later, an unidentified man gave her another drink. The woman told police she had assumed both drinks contained vodka, as they were both colorless. The woman reported that at approximately 11:30 p.m., she had begun feeling “overly flirtatious.” The woman also claimed to have experienced a loss of both hearing and bladder control. The woman told officers that her friend had walked her back to her residence at the Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall at approximately 1 a.m. on Sept. 27, at which point she vomited. The woman’s friends later told her that between the hours of 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 26 and 1 a.m. on Sept. 27, she had made out with three different men at the party. The next day, the woman looked up GHB online and believed she had experience its symptoms. She also told police that she had attempted to contact the fraternity president and had left several messages at the fraternity, but had received no replies. She told officers she was reporting the incident to document the event in the hopes of preventing any future sexual assaults.

Photo by kenlund, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

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