Federal agents have put Reed College
on notice that illegal drug use will not be tolerated at the elite private school in Southeast Portland.
According to an email sent April 23 to all staff and students, Reed President Colin Diver
says U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton
, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk
and other law-enforcement officials met with Diver on Thursday and delivered a clear message — "shut down illegal drug use and distribution at Reed College."
Diver made clear to students that U.S. agents specifically want to shut down illegal drug use at Renn Fayre
— the school's annual festival — next weekend.
"Based on ongoing criminal investigations, including conversations with current and former students and other sources, these officials have heard numerous allegations about drug use at Reed, and particularly at Renn Fayre," Diver wrote.
The move comes after recent deaths
this year among students at Reed, one of which campus officials have attributed to a heroin overdose. And it comes after the 2008 heroin-overdose death of freshman Alejandro Lluch
, which led to a WW cover story about drug use at Reed
Here is Diver's email earlier today:
To: The Reed College Faculty and Staff
From: Colin Diver, President
Re: Drugs at Renn Fayre
Date: April 23, 2010
I want to share with you a message that I have just sent out to the student body. The exhortation contained in the message, of course, applies to all of us:
To the Reed College Student Body:
My message regarding drug use at Renn Fayre 2010 is very simple: do not use illegal drugs. That means no marijuana, hallucinogens, designer drugs, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, or other illegal substances.
Since adopting the drug and alcohol implementation plan last year, we have consistently said that the plan applies throughout the year, and that no exception will be made for Renn Fayre. Recent events have given added urgency to this message. Yesterday Mike Brody and I were summoned to a meeting at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Portland. Present in the meeting were the United States Attorney for Oregon, the Chief of the Narcotics Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Multnomah District Attorney, and the Deputy District Attorney. Their message was forceful and direct: shut down illegal drug use and distribution at Reed College, starting with Renn Fayre. Based on ongoing criminal investigations, including conversations with current and former students and other sources, these officials have heard numerous allegations about drug use at Reed, and particularly at Renn Fayre.
In the course of the conversation, the U.S. Attorney pointedly referred to a federal statute that makes it a criminal and civil offense for anyone knowingly to operate any facility for the purpose of using illegal drugs. We were also reminded of federal legislation that allows all federal funding - including student loans - to be withdrawn from any college or university that fails to take adequate steps to combat illegal drug activity.
We have been told that, during next weekend's Renn Fayre celebration, undercover Portland police officers will be circulating on campus, uniformed Portland police officers will be on alert to respond immediately to calls, and prosecutors stand ready to process criminal charges.
Further, in compliance with Reed's drug and alcohol implementation plan, Community Safety Officers will be patrolling the campus as usual throughout the weekend. If you are observed using, possessing, or distributing any illegal drug, the illegal drugs will be confiscated. At a minimum, you will be reported to the Dean of Students' office for disciplinary action. In the case of serious offenses, especially involving distribution of illegal drugs, we will also call the police -- in accordance with the implementation plan -- and you may be arrested and charged with a crime. Any place, such as one of the lodges, in which illegal drugs are being used will be closed down immediately and permanently.
The purpose of this notice and the actions that it describes is to protect individual members of the Reed community and the community as a whole. If you are inviting guests to Renn Fayre, you should inform them of these concerns. The wellbeing of the college depends on how everyone behaves next weekend and beyond. So does the future of Renn Fayre.
So I urge you again: no illegal drugs at Renn Fayre. Enjoy yourselves in a safe and healthy way, and honor the efforts of those who created Renn Fayre as a joyous celebration of Reed College at its best.
: Reed's president says in a follow-up email today to the college's students, faculty and staff that he was asked to forward them an email from US Attorney Dwight Holton and Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk.
Among other points, the two law enforcement officials write in their email that it's "time for Renn Fayre and Reed to adopt a zero tolerance policy prohibiting illegal drugs flat-out." They write that drug dealing has become like any big business looking to make big profits, in this case off of addiction. Here's their email, as forwarded to the Reed community by Diver:
To: The Reed Community
From: Colin Diver
Re: Drugs at Renn Fayre: Message from the US Attorney and Multnomah County District Attorney
I have just received the following message from Dwight Holton, United States Attorney for Oregon, and Michael Shrunk, District Attorney for Multnomah County, with a request that I forward it to the entire Reed community.
To Students, Faculty, Staff and All Members of the Reed Community:
Your world has been shaken by the deaths of Sam Tepper and Alejandro Lluch. We are deeply sorry for your loss. For such talent and promise to be abruptly cut off by pointless death is an unspeakable tragedy.
But while now may be a time for reflection and grief, it is also a time for action. It is now time for the Reed community to abandon the myth that drug use is a safe and acceptable form of exploration. It is time for Renn Fayre and Reed to adopt a zero tolerance policy prohibiting illegal drugs flat-out.
The illegal drug trade has changed radically since the days when giants like Alan Ginsberg and Gary Snyder ‘51 roamed campus here. The fact is that the drug trade is now fueled by one of the most potent forces in the West: greed.
The big-businessification of the illegal drug trade has transformed drug use, bringing new and volatile dangers. First, like any other multibillion dollar industry, drug cartels have invested heavily in R and D efforts – for cartels, to create newly powerful and increasingly addictive drugs. The R and D is targeted to two related objectives: increasing potency, and increasing addiction. This is about profit – addiction means dollars in a drug cartel's bank account. By engineering increasingly potent product, drug cartels get more users hooked faster. The results are obvious – from heroin to marijuana, drug potency has increased exponentially in the last decade. This is precisely why Sam Tepper died – shockingly potent heroin caused his body to simply shut down.
Second, mimicking the corporate model, drug cartels have adopted aggressive and predatory marketing strategies. Dealers now offer home delivery and slashed prices – following the practices of pizza delivery and big box stores. Heroin dealers have started hanging out at methadone clinics, where they offer people trying to get well a home-delivered high that is cheaper than the trip to the clinic.
Most importantly for you, today's drug dealer is targeting middle class and wealthier kids: it's an unexploited market with more cash and less guns, and it avoids competition with bigger Mexican drug cartels, who have traditionally targeted people living in poor communities. To be perfectly clear: the new market which drug dealers are targeting is you.
It is tempting to try to set the deaths of Sam and Alejandro apart – Sam was off campus, maybe their drugs came from off campus, it was the big H, not a “recreational” drug.
Don't get sucked in by this bogus Siren call. The fact is that if the Reed community insists that this is “not our problem” and tries to draw distinctions between “hard” and other drugs, you will send the message that drug use can be safe.
The dangers are real, and the deaths of Sam and Alejandro are all the proof you should need.
It is time for the Reed community to embrace the notion that drug use is not safe and it will not be tolerated – without fine print, without provisos, and without conditions.
As the top federal prosecutor in Oregon and the Multnomah County District attorney, we have a responsibility to this community – including you and your families. We cannot, and we will not stand by if drug use is tolerated on your campus. We cannot, and we will not stand by if Renn Fayre is a repeat of years past – where even in the wake of Alejandro Lluch's death drug use and distribution were allegedly rampant.
Our hope is that the Reed community will take this problem head on, and declare once and for all that you are ready to end this problem now. It will take a change in policy, attitude and culture, it will require stronger support for people trying to kick drug habits – and most importantly it will require a radical change in conduct.
We have great admiration and respect for your remarkable accomplishments – those in the past and those in your future. Reed students and alums have expanded our horizons and led in every field of science and the arts for generations. Oregonians are rightly proud that you call Portland home.
It is clear that President Diver and Dean Brody are committed to tackling this challenge. We are hopeful that you are ready to join them.
We stand ready to help in any way we can. If need be, we will use all the tools available to us in federal and state law enforcement. We owe that to the people of our community, including you.
Dwight C. Holton Michael D. Schrunk
United States Attorney District Attorney
District of Oregon Multnomah County