Four students at Wesleyan University were arrested Tuesday in connection with a police investigation of use of the club drug Molly over the weekend -- use that led to 12 hospitalizations, 10 of them other Wesleyan students.
The university announced the immediate suspension of the students.
A statement from the Middletown Police Department said that the four students who were arrested faced a variety of charges:
- Eric Lonergan was charged with possession of a controlled substance and 16 counts of illegally obtaining or supplying drugs.
- Andrew Olson was charged with two counts of possession of hallucinogen, sale of hallucinogen, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.
- Zachary Kramer was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a regulated substance and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana.
- Rama Agha Al Nakib was charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Kramer's LinkedIn profile describes his work at an internship at Merrill Lynch (in global wealth management) and as a server at a restaurant. "I am an innovative, forward-thinking, and hard-working student keen to engage in intellectually stimulating work. I pride myself on my learning-proficiency, ambition, and dynamic working style. I am interested in many fields dealing with the tacit laws of nature and the world we live in; this accounts for my wide range of interests including business and finance, neuroscience, biochemistry, and psychology," he wrote.
Lonergan's LinkedIn profile summarizes him this way: "My goal is to integrate Neuroscience with Philosophy of Mind to create a consistent image of the universe along with revised methods for dealing with mental disorders through pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy." The profile lists his job category as pharmaceuticals.
The police statement also said that Connecticut authorities continue to investigate the particular batch of Molly that is believed to have been distributed to Wesleyan students. The risks of the drug are greatly increased because it frequently has been mixed (not always with users' knowledge) with other drugs. The police statement said that "this particular batch may have had a mixture of several kinds of designer drug chemicals, making the health risks unpredictable and treatment to combat the effects, complex and problematic."
Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth sent a statement to students, employees and parents late Tuesday in which he informed them of the arrests.
"The university immediately suspended the students pending a formal hearing. We take very seriously allegations concerning the distribution of dangerous drugs, and the university will continue to cooperate with state and local officials. We will do everything we can to make our community as safe as possible," he said. "We are a community that values freedom. None of us want to see arrests on our campus, but even less do we want to see ambulances rushing from our residences with students whose lives are in danger."
Roth also reported that all but two of those hospitalized over the weekend have been released, and that the two who remain in the hospital "have made progress."
The Statistics on Drug Violations
Since the news spread Sunday about the hospitalizations of students, some at Wesleyan and elsewhere have been debating whether drug use is more prevalent there than at other colleges. It is important to note that many colleges have reported increased use of Molly since around 2013, when the deaths of students at several college drew attention to the drug. The Monitoring the Future report on student drug use, a national study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, found last year that about 5 percent of college students reported Ecstasy use in the prior 12 months. Molly is a form of Ecstasy.
The Hartford Courant published an analysis of federal crime reports in which the newspaper looked at the 300 public and private colleges with on-campus housing and enrollment of 3,000 to 5,000. Wesleyan's enrollment of about 3,200 is largely undergraduate and residential.
Among the findings by the Courant:
- In 2012 and 2013, Wesleyan reported the second highest number of students "referred for disciplinary action" for drug violations.
- The college ranked fourth in 2011 and 2010, and overall ranked third in a tally of referrals from 2010 through 2013.
- For 2012 and 2013, Wesleyan reported 521 disciplinary referrals for drug violations and 4 arrests.
- In 2013, 1 of every 13 Wesleyan students was disciplined for a drug violation.
Some experts on campus crime reports warn that those colleges that report the highest numbers of referrals for various violations may well not be those with the most significant problems. A college ignoring problems may not be high on such lists, they note.
And a Wesleyan official made a version of that argument to the Courant. Michael Whaley, vice president for student affairs, told the newspaper, "We are committed to responding to violations with education, treatment and sanctions, as appropriate. These federal statistics reflect our vigorous efforts to enforce our policies. At Wesleyan, we don't sweep these problems under the rug."
'Open Healing Space'
At Wesleyan on Tuesday, students organized an "open healing space" where they could produce messages of support for all students, or cards for those in the hospital.
Organizers specified that they did not want the event to focus on rumors or discussions of blame in the hospitalizations. One organizer wrote on Facebook: "Just a note -- while obviously we support that everyone heals in different ways, this will be a space where rumors/shaming will not be supported. The main and only goal is just to provide a space for people to be there for each other, and create something for members of the community that are hurting. Love and light to all."
Read more by
Today’s News from Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes
What Others Are Reading