DA: Reed College must stop illegal-drug use

File photo of Reed College's old dorm block in 2008.
File photo of Reed College's old dorm block in 2008. KATU.com

PORTLAND, Ore. – Federal agents reportedly have put Reed College on notice that illegal drug use will not be tolerated at the elite private school in Southeast Portland.

The move comes after the March 23 heroin death of a Reed College senior reported by KATU news partner Willamette Week. The paper reports that in 2008 a Reed College freshman also died from heroin.

The move also comes before Reed College's annual Renn Fayre, an annual themed three-day celebration at Reed. Fayre traditions include a naked Slip 'n Slide, naked people painting themselves blue and a night-time "Glo Opera" of actors covered in neon-like electroluminescent wire and glow sticks.

The drug-use shutdown comes from a letter sent to Reed President Colin Diver from District of Oregon United States Attorney Dwight Holton and Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk.

"Based on ongoing criminal investigations," Diver wrote in an e-mail sent April 23 to Reed staff and students, "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."

Specifically mentioned in Diver's message are a ban on marijuana, hallucinogens, designer drugs, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates or other illegal substances.

"Yesterday Mike Brody and I were summoned to a meeting at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Portland," Diver explained. "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."

Diver said that during next weekend's Renn Fayre celebration, undercover Portland police officers will be circulating on campus. He said he also was told that uniformed Portland police officers "will be on alert to respond immediately to calls"  and prosecutors will be "ready to process criminal charges."

In a memo to KATU Saturday, Reed College Spokesperson Kevin Myers notes that "though this intervention from law enforcement was not requested by the college, it is welcomed and consistent with Reed's drug and alcohol policy."

- Willamette Week originated this report.

Related resources:

Here is 45 seconds of champagne spraying, thesis parading, samba dancing Renn Fayre festivities, filmed by Ken Yapelli at Reed College in April 2006 on a circa 1945 16mm home movie camera: