A few weeks ago, we published an article critiquing co-op culture at Stanford. It included an observation about the high levels of drug use at Enchanted Broccoli Forest (EBF) and other co-ops. Turns out, things are much worse than we thought.
After former Stanford student, Eitan Weiner, was found dead of a fentanyl overdose in January 2020 in the Theta Delta Chi (TDX) fraternity house, his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university. The Review recently received a tip that current EBF Resident Assistant Cole Dill-DeSa is implicated in the suit.
In December 2021, Weiner’s family filed a lawsuit against Stanford, TDX, Dill-DeSa, two other Stanford affiliates, and a fourth unaffiliated young adult. Dill-DeSa is alleged to have “aided and abetted Defendant Carpenter in purchasing, distributing, and furnishing the controlled substance that resulted in Eitan’s death.” The lawsuit alleges that his “careless, negligent, reckless, and unlawful conduct with respect to the events leading up to and surrounding Decedent Eitan Weiner’s fatal drug overdose was the direct, legal, and proximate cause of Eitan’s death and the damages alleged herein.”
Especially in a house with a culture of drug use, this RA’s past makes him wildly unqualified to be an RA and puts the students’ safety at risk. We call on Residential Education (ResEd) to both fire Cole Dill-DeSa and the administrators who hired him.
Moreover, ResEd ought to issue a public apology for their shortsightedness. Even if the court finds him not directly liable for Weiner’s death, it is egregious that ResEd hired this person into a position of authority in any co-op, let alone one with deeply problematic drug policies. This is evidence of extreme negligence on part of ResEd, who tasked him with ensuring student well-being — a job for which he is grossly incapable.
Stanford’s own list of student residential staff obligations states staff must place “a critical role in the creation of safe, inclusive residential communities that support student health and well-being. Student staff are expected to be role models for responsible behavior, personal integrity, and the exercise of mature, sound judgment in their interactions and relationships with residents.” They are also supposed to abide by Stanford’s policy on controlled substances. Does allegedly being involved in the distribution of hard drugs and a student's death sound like ‘responsible behavior’ and ‘personal integrity?’
There are only two explanations for ResEd’s decision to hire this RA. Either they were too lazy to do a quick Google search of his name, which would have turned up his checkered past when it comes to creating a secure environment, or these administrators knew that he may be liable for the death of a student and chose to hire him regardless. Both are unacceptable.
The Review strongly believes that people are innocent until proven guilty, but we must raise eyebrows at how this student — who has been publicly implicated in a student death — was hired to serve as an RA.
We reached out to Neighborhood T administrators Samara Mokaya (Neighborhood T Resident Director) and Richard Duncan (Neighborhood T Program Director) for comment, as well as Assistant Vice Provost of Residential Education Dr. Cheryl Brown.
We asked them:
- Were background checks completed on potential candidates?
- Were you aware of the current charges being alleged against this RA?
- If so, how did you hire him to protect student safety in good faith?
- If not, how can students — especially those in EBF — trust ResEd to act in good faith?
- Also if not, how is this not negligence?
We received no response from any of the three administrators.
The hiring process for Stanford RAs is opaque, so we do not know who hired him. Perhaps this mishap is not the blame of the Neighborhood T staff, but some unknown higher-ups. Had they responded to our inquiry maybe we’d know. The Assistant Vice Provost of Residential Education almost certainly plays a significant role in hiring staff. We are calling on ResEd to point us to whoever actually hired the RA and fire them. If that cannot be done, Ms. Mokaya, Mr. Duncan, and Dr. Brown should be fired for their poor oversight of the RA hiring process.
Sadly, the troubles at EBF don’t stop there. In a tip, we also learned that “drug safety (and prioritizing ‘protection’ of the house over student safety, generally) is a concern [at EBF]. It is not an accident that the public does not know about the discrimination investigation or other concerning incidents that occurred.” The investigation referenced is a discrimination suit regarding four out of five Jewish students who reapplied to live in EBF being rejected.
We were told by a source about staff members instructing residents not to talk to ResEd or the press about problems within the house, even going so far as to declare a “no-snitch policy” at a house meeting. Staff convinced residents that if they were to complain about the house, it could signal the death of EBF or even all co-ops. The “no-snitch policy” also applied to the university’s investigation of antisemitism within the house and its selection process for residents. Given the near-dictatorial power co-op RAs have in selecting residents, ResEd’s careless decision-making has implications beyond student safety.
To our fellow students: how can we trust ResEd to keep us safe when they hire irresponsible students who are allegedly liable for an overdose? How about when the administration allows non-students to live on campus for nearly a year? It may seem daunting to fight back against ResEd and the university at large, which is more than willing to retaliate against students for speaking out. But student safety — our safety — is something that must be protected. We cannot let reckless administrators endanger our community and the lives of fellow students.