Public Safety raids Kappa Sigma and 23 University Ave.

By Jenni Whalen

Senior Writer

Officers with the Department of Public Safety searched the residences of 23 University Avenue and Kappa Sigma Fraternity last Thursday, Feb. 16. The searches took approximately three hours apiece.

During the investigations, individual room searches were only conducted when one of the highly-trained K-9 units indicated that illegal drugs or related contraband might be located in that room.

“The University was compelled to act based on the frequency of prior incidents by students affiliated with the two residences and the assortment of illicit drugs discovered within a short period prior to the searches,” said Andy Hirsch, Director of Media Communications.

At approximately 9 a.m. on Thursday, fire alarms were set off at 23 University Avenue and the 14 residents were instructed to evacuate the house.

Public Safety officers and members of the Lewisburg Police force arrived on the scene with K-9 units and students were informed that they needed to leave the residence for approximately three hours on the premise that officers would be conducting University searches.

At around 1 p.m. on the same day, a fire alarm was also set off in Kappa Sigma Fraternity, at which point Public Safety officers instructed fraternity members that they would not be allowed back into the building for an extended period of time.

Hirsch noted that these searches were consistent with the policies of the Student Handbook.

“Officers from other law enforcement agencies assisted Bucknell Public Safety officers to allow an expeditious search, but this was not a criminal investigation,” Hirsch said. “Students were not notified beforehand. For the searches of 23 and 64 University Avenue, the University did not obtain a search warrant, nor was it obligated to, since these were administrative, not criminal searches.”

The Student Handbook details certain conditions under which a full search of residences owned by the University is authorized. These conditions include situations where there is evidence of contraband or ongoing illegal activity and the residences can be searched only with the approval of the Dean of Students, Susan Lantz.

Following Thursday’s searches, the residents of 23 University Avenue received a notice stating they would no longer be able to live in the house due to Thursday’s search and more than a dozen related incidents that occurred on the premises since last September. Students were instructed to report to Housing Services for new housing options and were required to move to their new homes by Tuesday. The residents will not be allowed to return to 23 University Avenue for the remainder of the semester.

Because a student from 23 University Avenue was arrested two weeks ago due to his involvement with illicit drug use, many of the displaced residents assume this arrest brought about the searches at both Kappa Sigma Fraternity and 23 University Avenue. 

“I am one of numerous students that was punished by being forcibly relocated when we did nothing wrong,” said Kegun Ream ’14, a former resident of 23 University Avenue. “Forcing innocent students to relocate and distracting them from their work does not solve the problems in 23 University Avenue.”

At this point in time, all residents of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and 23 University Avenue remain on campus. As of Tuesday, Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s temporary suspension has been lifted. Drug paraphernalia was confiscated during the search and the University will be handling the issue internally by punishing students according to the University’s drug policy rather than state laws.

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