One student still hospitalized at Hartford Hospital, will survive "against all odds."

c/o panoramio.com

Four University students were arrested on Tuesday, Feb. 24. following a series of hospitalizations last weekend arising from drug-related complications, Middletown Police Chief William McKenna announced in a press conference on Tuesday night. The hospitalized students experienced adverse effects after consuming what they believed to be Molly/MDMA.

Middletown Police Lieutenant Heather Desmond announced in an email that, as of Thursday afternoon, only one student remains hospitalized at Hartford Hospital. The student’s family issued a press release on Friday, Feb. 27 saying the student will survive “against all odds.” The 11 other students have been released.

All four students were taken into police custody on Tuesday night and suspended by the University effective immediately, pending a formal hearing. The names of the students arrested have been released by the Middletown Police Department, but The Argus is refraining from publishing them as of now.

The arrest warrants for these four students were released by the Middletown Police Department on Wednesday, Feb. 25 and Thursday, Feb. 26, and indicated the results of the searches of the students’ residences. While conducting the search of the first student’s room, police and Public Safety Officers seized 516 assorted pills, as well as multiple unidentified powders and liquids. The authorities brought these substances to Rite Aid Pharmacy for identification, and a pharmacist was able to identify 16 different types of pills, all of which would require a prescription. After searching the residence of a second student, police located over 600 pills containing Alprazolam, a drug consistent with Xanex, as well as two yellow powered substances, one white powdered substance, and a bottle of small white pills containing drugs used to treat depression.

In the third student’s room, police found capsules containing a tan substance that tested positive for amphetamines, 197 Nitrous Oxide cartridges, a small amount of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. Police found in the fourth student’s room a glass jar containing hundreds of empty capsules, a digital scale, five Ehrlich’s reagent drug-test kits, and a pill dispenser with powdery substances that would later field test positive for Molly/MDMA.

Three of the four students were arraigned in Superior Court on Wednesday, before posting bail and being released. These students will appear again in court on March 3. One of the students posted bond, and has a court date set for March 3 as well.

McKenna stated that the investigation is still ongoing.

“We have obtained arrest warrants for four Wesleyan University students on charges related to or associated with the recent campus incidents,” McKenna said on Tuesday. “All four have been taken into custody as of 8 p.m. this evening. Four search and seizure warrants have also been obtained from the court and have been executed at certain locations at and around the campus.”

According to the Arrest Warrant Application, at least one search of a student residence was conducted by Public Safety Officers without a search warrant but with the permission of Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley. A Middletown Police Officer was present for the search to insure the safety of everyone present.

An all-campus email from Whaley on Thursday, Feb. 26 thanked students for their response to Sunday’s medical emergencies.

“In several cases, your quick intervention saved their lives,” Whaley wrote. “Thankfully, most of the students have now been released from the hospital and it seems all of them will survive the ordeal. Bystander intervention at work.”

Whaley went on to thank students who provided information about drug distribution on campus, which directly contributed to Tuesday’s arrests.

“Since Sunday, many of you have shared information about who may be responsible for distributing drugs within our community,” Whaley wrote. “We know you did this because you hoped to help save those in the hospital or because you hoped for a campus with fewer dangerous drugs. You too deserve our thanks.”

Middlesex County State Attorney Peter McShane, along with the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory, is currently working to identify the chemicals present in the drugs taken by the hospitalized students.

“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,” McKenna said.

Betty Aldworth, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy—the Wesleyan chapter of which was re-established in 2013—released a statement Wednesday that declined to comment on the ongoing investigation but spoke against the management of drugs through the criminal justice system.

“Students for Sensible Drug Policy neither condones nor condemns drug use; we acknowledge that people use drugs regardless of prohibition and that drugs are best managed through public health measures and regulatory frameworks, not the criminal justice system,” Aldworth wrote. “At Wesleyan, one in 13 students was disciplined for a drug violation in 2013, proving that this scenario will play out again and again until we end drug prohibition and replace it with laws based on justice, compassion, evidence, and common sense.”

According to University President Michael Roth, however, it is too soon to tell if the incident will affect the University’s drug policies. Roth stated in an interview with The Argus that he does not anticipate making any drastic changes at this time.

“I think the policies we have have been pretty effective over the long haul in trying to point students toward making responsible choices, not overly policing them, while at the same time putting up pretty clear guardrails,” Roth said. “Right now we’re still focused on the recovery of students…and on the ongoing legal investigation, but afterwards we’ll have the chance to talk to student representatives about other things we might do that will make the community safer. It’s probably not good policy-making to do it right in the aftermath of a poisoning event.”

While Roth expressed concern about the students who were hurt, he did not feel the incident is representative of campus life or a wider campus problem.

“What we’ve tried to do in our communications since this poisoning that took place over the weekend was to be forthright in our communications with the campus community with what we knew, and where the dangers were, and also to express our sorrow and concern for the people who were injured,” Roth said. “Accidents happen at colleges and universities. People get hurt—sometimes because they do stupid things, sometimes because they’re unlucky, sometimes some combination of things.”

Roth stated his hopes that the community will be able to heal quickly in the aftermath of these events.

“I do think people are scared, but I think at the same time, we’ll get through this,” Roth continued. “Our reputation is that Wesleyan students care about each other.”

This article will be updated as the story develops. The Argus previously published a story on these events earlier this week.

  • DKE Bro

    “Wesleyan students Eric Lonergan, 21, Andrew Olson, 20, Zachary Kramer, 21, and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, were arrested Tuesday on various drug charges….. Lonergan, Kramer and Al Nakib appeared in Middletown Superior Court in Connecticut today for their arraignment hearings, according to the Middletown Police. They did not enter pleas, a court official said, but they were released on bond — $50,000 each for Lonergan and Al Nakib, and $5,000 for Kramer. A fourth student, Andrew Olson, 20, posted $175,000 bond on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. The students are due back in court March 3.” http://abcnews.go.com/US/wesleyan-students-arrested-drug-charges-due-court/story?id=29214509

  • DKE Bro

    A sensible policy indeed, Mr. Olson.

    Andrew Olson, 20, the founder and co-president of the Wesleyan chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, was arrested in connection with Molly overdoses that sent 11 classmates to the hospital.

    http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Founder-of-Student-Drug-Reform-Group-Arrested-in-Wesleyan-Molly-OD-Case-294087231.html

  • DKE Bro

    A “poisoning” huh Roth? Are you shitting me? Where did you steal this bit of intellectually dishonest doublespeak?

    • Cornellian

      What IS a drug overdose, if NOT a poisoning. Call it like it is. If you are dumb enough to think that drug abuse is just fun and recreational playtimes, well then, take it to a different playground.

      • k.d. lang’s mangina

        By that logic, any person who experiments with drugs that can result in a fatal accidental overdose should be psychologically assessed and hospitalized for being suicidal.

      • Marie JP

        Maybe….

  • DKE Bro

    Sec. 53a-60. Assault in the second degree: Class D felony. (a) A person is guilty of assault in the second degree when: (4) for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, he intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness or other physical impairment or injury to another person by administering to such person, without his consent, a drug, substance or preparation capable of producing the same;http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_952.htm

    • DKE Bro

      Sec. 53a-61. Assault in the third degree: Class A misdemeanor. (a) A person is guilty of assault in the third degree when: (2) he recklessly causes serious physical injury to another person; http://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_952.htm

  • k.d. lang’s mangina

    Damn, that’s a lot of drugs they confiscated! That wasn’t a small operation. That’s felony level possession with intent to distribute in the outside world.

  • Urban Myths

    It’s more than a bit disturbing that the Argus continues to not report the names of the students arrested even as both the school and police are asking anyone with information to come forward. More students may have purchased dangerous drugs from these people or know something that could help either convict or even exonerate the accused if perhaps they were not involved in this particular drug sale.

    Assuming all of the victims bought the bad Molly from the same dealer then perhaps only one of them is to blame in this incident. If all four students were involved, or were selling illegal drugs, then that needs to be known to the general community as well.

    What is the reason for not publishing all the information and forcing students to find this information from other sources? Is this part of school policy? If so it reminds me of how Colleges regularly cover up all kinds of incidents from sexual assault and domestic abuse to suicides and drug abuse. If they will do anything to keep their reputations clean and the dollars rolling in from donors, then how safe are the students?

    • DavidL

      Amen. But it’s even worse than that. If what the Middletown paper publishes is true, these drugs have been sold in an open and notorious way for a considerable period of time. The paper mentions marketing emails and printed flyers. There had already been one incident of students sickened by Molly. So did anyone in the Wesleyan administration and bureaucracy know about this? It hardly seems possible that they would not. Was action taken? If it was not, why not? Did President Roth know about this conduct? Health officers? Campus police? Trustees?

      And if the staff of the school knew nothing, what does that tell you?

      The Argus has a big fat story right in its lap and is covering it in a most superficial way.

      And finally what does this incident tell us about the climate at the school? With all the talk of the evils of “privilege,” Wesleyan students and administrators seem to think that their students should be privileged to sell and consume illegal drugs with only the most minor consequence. The school’s so-called policy is against illegal drugs, but one in thirteen students was “disciplined” for a violation last year. That means many more users were not. Just why does Wesleyan seem to think that it’s outside the law on this issue? It tells a lot about the unwillingness of the school to inspire mindfulness and open discussion of difficult and controversial issues.

      Has Wesleyan become a herd of self-congratulating sheep? There is some evidence to think this might be so.

  • DKE Bro

    “While Roth expressed concern about the students who were hurt, he did not feel the incident is representative of campus life or a wider campus problem.”

    Of course Roth would not FEEL there is a “wider campus problem.” What would have actually to happen for him to FEEL there is a wider campus problem? 11 dead students? 75 dead students?

    A plunge in the endowment, ranking, and reputation of the school? Wait! That already happened!

  • casual observer

    In a comment to the an article in the Harvard Newspaper about the Harvard administration’s alleged inadequate response to sexual assaults, Harvard Professor John Hamilton wrote, “The best way to understand this irresponsibility on the part of administration is to look at the nature of bureaucracy… bureaucracies are about themselves, not the people supposedly served. In the case of a university, the students are the paying customers who are technically served, but in accordance with the priorities of the school. Since the bureaucracy puts itself first, reports of rape on campus are suppressed… If the pace of an organization is set by the person at the top, replacing the person at the top at the top sends a clear message throughout the bureaucracy that the operative bureaucratic truth has changed.”

    enough said

  • carl

    The bond posted was less than tuition at Wesleyan. Good thing they are not poor or poor people of color. If they were the bond would be far greater. For a small school its a good thing no one else is selling drugs on campus and this is not representative of a larger problem.

    • DavidL

      “For a small school its a good thing no one else is selling drugs on campus and this is not representative of a larger problem.”

      Ha.

  • You’re joking?

    Roth quote:
    “I think the policies we have have been pretty effective over the long haul in trying to point students toward making responsible choices”

    Yeah, that sounds about right when there have been over 500 disciplinary referrals related to campus drug use recently, yet only four arrests (according to US government data referenced in a different news report). Apparently the school policies have indeed helped many many students to make the responsible choice that they do not need to pay for criminal defense attorneys.

    • No, he’s just high

      No, he’s not joking, there must be some other explanation. Maybe he is just a complete f&cking moron? Nope, that can’t be it . . .

      “Our reputation is that Wesleyan students care about each other.”

      Agree regarding collective response by students to help the doctors, thank goodness. But I’m a bit worried that Mr. Roth is an imbecile unaware what a fraternity is, and that his lawyers and advisors have perhaps not yet mentioned to him that thousands of alumni and many students are thoroughly pissed off right now and the school is being sued. The reputation he may be referring to is just a bit unclear, I guess none of this makes it into real news publications? Wow man, must be nice to live in oblivion, pack another bowl dude! Kumbaya.

      • This is how

        the cookie crumbles

      • Marie JP

        Add to this all the Wesleyan parents who are pissed as well. As an alum, I think we have taken a MAJOR hit to our reputation. If my kid had applied to Wes, we would be having serious conversations now about whether she would attend if accepted. I am a former prosecutor. The kids dealing in drugs on campus felt protected. Always have felt that way ( and at Yale, Williams, UVA, etc.). Had these overdoses not happened, I doubt there would have been any investigation by the local police into drug dealing on campus. The specter of the police executing search warrants on campus and arresting students was unimaginable. Oops!!! That has happened. Now, how much more will the police do to investigate drugs on campus? What will the university do about student drug dealing? You can rest assured that the townies do not get the same privileges as the Wesleyan students.

      • L

        This is why I think there should be an independent investigation of this incident, and of campus climate on drugs overall. Did school officials really not know about the dealing going on in the dorms? If the Middletown paper is correct, there has been open traffic, with printed flyers and email notices, for a considerable time. And there was another overdose incident in the fall. “I knew nothing” is a pretty sketchy defense. Moreover, it’s a sign of clueless ignorance if true.

      • Lea Barth ’84

        As an alum and parent of a recent graduate, I would have no problem recommending Wesleyan to to an interested student. Are there students on campus who engage in illegal behavior? Yes. Are students pressured or encouraged to engage in illegal behavior? In my opinion, no. This is a wonderfully diverse campus with so much offered to students that they can sit out the drugs (and alcohol) and be a part of a vibrant campus community. With a firm response, the school will survive. I remember the 80’s when cocaine was the campus scourge and the FBI arrested classmates three days before graduation.

      • L

        He doesn’t have to be an imbecile to be badly wrong. Very smart people are wrong quite often, a fact which Wesleyan undergraduates should familiarize themselves with. There seems to be a decided lack of humility and self-doubt among the group.

    • DavidL

      Roth should read the student comments to the original article. Summary: “Molly is cool and smart people like us know it won’t hurt us.”

  • Marie JP

    I am very curious about the editorial reason for not publishing the students names. I have seen pics of three of the students along with their names and home cities. At least one pic was of a student with his parents; they are from my area. It included all of their names. What interest are you honoring/protecting? Please explain your editorial policy on this.

  • Concerned

    Surprising and disappointing the University is not driving more self-examination about this awful incident and the policies and practices that led to it. Wesleyan has widespread drug abuse, has had repeated serious incidents, has received a D- for its drug environment from a school rating agency, yet the Administration thinks its policies are ‘pretty effective’. This is self delusion at best, and negligence at worst. A serious institution would commission a review of its management and its policies including outside participants from experts in the field, e.g. substance abuse experts, police, officials from other Universities that have better drug environments and track records than Wesleyan. Instead of ‘What me Worry’?

    • L

      Indeed. I wonder how the trustees are reacting. Might the Argus inquire?

  • DKE Bro

    Gabe Rosenberg and Tess Morgan: Your journalistic ethics are disgraceful!

    • bye

      you can stop reading the argus if you hate it so much…

      • L

        Or he could continue to read it and make his thoughts known. It’s called discussion and debate, which apparently you don’t think is a very good idea.

        As an alum, I read the Argus to get a look at Wesleyan that is not filtered through admissions, pr and fund raising. The Wesleyan I see here is far too trivial and polarized to make me feel very good about the school. And (with exceptions) the quality of the writing and analysis makes me wonder about the quality of the students. Nevertheless I remain confident that there is more to Wesleyan than is exhibited in the pages of the Argus. Your comment did not help, however.

  • DKE Bro

    Let’s not forget that Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, is a Syrian national. This is how she thanks us for giving her shelter in this country, not to mention access to one of its elite educational institutions? What are the rules again regarding deportations for criminal offenses?

    • Anonymous

      Hey how many palms do you think I could fit on my face if I tried my hardest

  • Jennifer Rose
  • L

    “Our reputation is that Wesleyan students care about each other.”

    My sense is that is true. But the fact that people care about each other is not helpful if they are foolish or poorly informed. The smug student confidence that Molly is safe is very concerning. Perhaps it is true that some adulteration of the drug contributed to the sicknesses in this incident. Unfortunately adulteration comes with the territory with such drugs.

    Moreover, Molly is not a safe drug. Here is what the NIH says about it.

    “MDMA affects the brain by increasing the activity of at least three neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers of brain cells): serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.5 Like other amphetamines, MDMA causes these neurotransmitters to be released from their storage sites in neurons, resulting in increased neurotransmitter activity. Compared to the very potent stimulant, methamphetamine, MDMA causes greater serotonin release and somewhat lesser dopamine release.18Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep, pain, appetite, and other behaviors. The excess release of serotonin by MDMA likely causes the mood elevating effects experienced by MDMA users. However, by releasing large amounts of serotonin, MDMA causes the brain to become significantly depleted of this important neurotransmitter, contributing to the negative behavioral aftereffects that users often experience for several days after taking MDMA.19

    Numerous studies in animals have demonstrated that MDMA can damage serotonin-containing neurons;1,3 some of these studies have shown these effects to be long lasting. This suggests that such damage may occur in humans as well; however, measuring serotonin damage in humans is more difficult. Studies have shown that some heavy MDMA users experience longlasting confusion, depression, and selective impairment of working memory and attention processes.20,21,22,23,24”

    It is a perilous substance. If it were developed as a medical treatment, it’s unlikely that the FDA would allow it to be sold.

  • Urban Myths

    The use of psychedelic drugs at Wesleyan has been both open and widely known to everyone at the University for many years. For any parents, students or Alums in denial (both about drug use and their own addictions) this is a must-read article, published last Fall, that outlines how openly drugs like LSD and acid are experimented with at Wesleyan every year in WestCo and other dorms during annual events which are funded by the University.

    In light of recent events, Wesleyan must either admit it has known all along about these annual days dedicated to experimenting with drugs and that it endorses this activity, or it must pull all funding and shut these events down. Wesleyan can no longer have it both ways.

    Substance.com: Wesleyan University’s “Drug Days” Are a Safer Way for Students to Experiment

    The prestigious liberal arts college is the site of an eminently sensible, student-organized approach to taking LSD, MDMA and psilocybin mushrooms.

    Hannah attends Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Ranked 17th among US colleges in 2014 by US News and World Reports, Wesleyan is a highly competitive, expensive and prestigious school. As with most small liberal arts colleges, the students are community-oriented and social activities tend to be campus-based. Some of these organized activities have come to revolve around doing drugs.

    In her freshman year, Hannah lived in the West College dorm, known to students as “WestCo.” WestCo has the reputation of being the “artsy, hippy, activist, druggy dorm,” according to Hannah. Many of the 130 or so residents smoke weed on a daily basis, she says. But on several specified days each year, students abandon their bongs to simultaneously drop acid, pop Molly or do ‘shrooms.

    WestCo receives funding from the university to put on social and arts events, in which students from other dorms also participate. This funding sponsors several festivals every year, which include concerts and have names like “Duke Day,” called after a character in Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury comics, and “Zonker Harris Day.” An entire generation of WestCo students have celebrated such festivals annually for at least two decades, and it’s some of these events that have become associated with communal drug use.

    http://www.substance.com/wesleyan-universitys-drug-days-are-a-safer-way-for-students-to-experiment/12002/

  • student

    I approve of Roth’s comments, and unwillingness to placate those looking for a more paranoid reaction. I approve of the Argus’ respect–if only symbolic, at this point, given the ubiquitous media coverage–for the privacy of the students in question.

  • Wesalum

    Drug use will always occur, especially in places with a free thinking community like Wesleyan. The obvious answer is not more policing, it is harm reduction. Drug test kits save lives, and Wesleyan should be a model to the rest of the country on how to protect, not criminalize, young people.

    • chemistry PhD

      Remember taking organic lab and all those tests you had to run to figure out what compound you were assigned, yeah, well drug test kits aren’t nearly so useful as you might think. If you don’t do serious chemical characterization (mass spectrometry and NMR) you won’t know what is in a non-Rx pill. If you don’t know what it is, don’t put it in your body.

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  • Bill

    Some of the students admitted to police that they had purchased Molly from one of the suspects, which in turn led the University to examine his room while police observed. Does this mean those students are subject to the law regarding purchasing illegal drugs?

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