Two students in the class of 2016 were arrested by the Middletown Police Department (MPD) on Feb. 8 at approximately 5:52 p.m. and stand accused of possession of less than four ounces of marijuana with intent to sell. One was also charged with possession of marijuana paraphernalia and another with the use of drug paraphernalia. Both students were released on $5,000 non-surety bonds and allowed to return to campus.
“[Wesleyan Public Safety] transferred the items to [MPD] which included various bags of a leafy green substance which Officers suspected to be marijuana, 1 bong with hoses and marijuana residue, 2 grinders with marijuana residue on them, a box of ziploc bags which officers suspected were used to package narcotics for sales, various containers which had the odor of marijuana in them, packages of rolling papers, and a miscellaneous piece of narcotics equipment,” the police report reads.
According to the report, the students initially denied having any drugs or drug-related materials in the room, but later consented to a search of the room, during which officers found another bag of the leafy green substance and a second bong with hoses. This green substance later tested positive for marijuana and totaled 2.2 ounces.
However, one student contended this police report, which was cited by the Middletown Press on Feb. 11.
“There are various inaccurate statements in that article,” he wrote in an email to The Argus, but declined to elaborate further.
The report explains that Public Safety (PSafe) was contacted by a Residential Advisor (RA) due to a strong smell coming from the room and a large number of students entering and exiting the room. According to the report, the RA explained that following an incident during which the students were accused of stealing shampoo from another student, other residents began noticing the high volume of traffic through the room.
The RA in question declined to comment. Additionally, Associate Dean of Students Scott Backer, Dean for the Class of 2016 David Phillips, and Interim Director of Public Safety Tony Bostick declined to comment, citing lack of knowledge and confidentiality.
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy Co-President Andrew Olson ’16 finds this silence worrisome and expressed concerns over an unclear and inconsistent policy regarding when MPD ought to be involved in an incident.
“What troubled me about this case, mostly, as a member of this community, was the fact that this seemed like an almost arbitrary turn of events…that it started with some intra-hall tiff and then this can spiral suddenly into a situation where people are potentially being put in prison,” Olson said.
Olson also pointed to the Student Handbook and Code of Non-Academic Conduct as conduits for this inconsistency; neither details when a violation merits MPD involvement, and the word “police” only appears once outside the section on sexual assault.
“[The University prohibits the] possession, use, manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of illegal drugs or controlled substances by any member of the Wesleyan community,” reads the Code of Non-Academic Conduct under section 13A. “This includes the misuse or abuse of any medications prescribed by a physician to another individual. Students should be advised that university personnel may confiscate drug paraphernalia (including bongs, water pipes, etc.). Such items will be tested for drug residue and the owner held responsible for a drug policy violation if appropriate.”
Olson finds this explanation ambiguous and believes that it creates a divisive relationship between students and administrators.
“It’s very troubling that it seems to be totally up to the individual [PSafe] Officers and RAs’ discretion as to how far they want to take it up the food chain,” Olson said. “I think this leads to an issue of potential discrimination because we don’t have a standard to which we’re holding everyone and a procedure that we can have equally and fairly applied to everyone.”
A number of other students appear to agree with Olson. A report posted by Wesleying on Feb. 12 received 33 comments as of Feb. 17, in which some commenters questioned the decision to involve the MPD and cited numerous instances wherein drug dealers on campus were caught, but the matters were handled internally.
According to MPD Lieutenant Heather Desmond, PSafe is expected to report all crimes on campus to the MPD.
“If [PSafe] believes that a crime has been or is being committed they will call us,” Desmond wrote in an email to The Argus. “They do not have powers of arrest[…]. We wouldn’t know when they handle things internally[…]. Wesleyan calls us just like anyone else would when a crime is being committed.”
The students appeared together in municipal court on Friday, Feb. 14 and had their SJB hearing on Monday, Feb. 17. They now await their verdicts.
A previous version of this article stated that the RA cited in the police report was on duty at the time of the incident. The RA in question was not in fact on duty at that specific time. The Argus regrets this error.