Northwestern investigates reports of drugging, sex assault at 2 fraternities

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Northwestern University students are on alert after the school received two separate reports that female students may have been given a date-rape drug. (WLS)

Northwestern University students are on alert after the school received two separate reports that female students may have been given a date-rape drug at two different fraternities. Some of those women said they were sexually assaulted.

One of the fraternities named is Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Its national office is on Northwestern's campus in north suburban Evanston. SAE officials said Tuesday morning the fraternity is working with the university on the investigation.

"I was surprised that there was university action and it was sent out everywhere. We were alerted of it in my sorority last week," said Chloe Gardner, a Northwestern student.

Northwestern posted an alert on its website that said on Feb. 2, the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office received a report that on Jan. 21, four female students who attended an event at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house and were possibly given a date rape drug.

The report also alleged that two of the students also believed they were sexually assaulted.

"Northwestern is a great school, but it also isn't immune. Everyone here is still like a student. At the age that we are, I guess people haven't matured fully enough," said Abhishek Chaturvedi, another Northwestern student.

In addition, on Feb. 3, the university received an anonymous report alleging that on the previous night, a female student was sexually assaulted, possibly involving the use of a date rape drug, after attending an event at another fraternity house.

The report is unclear as to where the assault may have occurred.

"It worries me. I never really thought about it before. 'It wouldn't happen to me' kind of thing. But now I'm really hyper-aware," said Hannah Brown, a student at Northwestern.

Northwestern said it is concerned about the safety and well-being of its students and it is investigating the reports.

The university urged anyone with information to contact the university's Title IX coordinator at TitleIXCoordinator@northwestern.edu or call university police at (847) 491-3456.

SAE Associate Executive Director of Communications Brandon E. Weghorst said in a statement that the fraternity is committed to finding out what happened and taking appropriate action. He also said a staff member specifically assigned to Title IX matters will also work with the investigative team.

"Any form of assault or sexual misconduct by anyone, brother or not, college man or not, is completely unacceptable, and we do not tolerate actions that are inconsistent with our mission. Sigma Alpha Epsilon always is committed to the safety and well-being of our members and the guest with whom they interact, and that commitment includes making sure our members provide a safe, enjoyable environment in their homes. When incidents are brought to our attention, we take immediate action, and will not hesitate to take corrective actions or impose sanctions on any member or chapter that fails to follow the stringent guidelines we set forth," Weghorst said in an emailed statement.
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