This quiet, sleepy little section of the Central Coast lives in a tenuous balance between the upper-middle class families who own property and the majority: the long-term and transient college students that are a nuisance and a necessity. Many national news stories originate or happen here. Like all good PR Firms, City Government and the prestigious Cuesta College in association with Cal Poly (whose administrative talent, cash and credit can compartmentalize conflicts, bury secrets deep and naturally maintain and boost credibility).
Any cursory glance or visit to San Luis Obispo by tourists, interested in the quaint, isolated downtown, access to famous vineyards, nearby hot spots; Pismo Beach (“and all the clams we can eat!”), Morro Bay, Pirates Cove, Los Osos and that monument to Gilded Age decadence: “Billy Buster’s” Fortress of Solitude – Hearst Castle reveals historic and geological beauty not found anywhere else.
Campus tours of Cal Poly showcase the gorgeous landscapes, happy and motivated students, friendly faculty and ESPECIALLY exclusivity. They proudly report that acceptance is restricted to high school applicants who matriculate in the 98th percentile (A cross product GPA, SAT score and quantity/quality of extracurricular and volunteer work)
At the time of my acceptance and subsequent enrollment, The Cal Poly College of Agriculture was #1 in the west, The College of Engineering 2nd only to CalTech and successful pre-Med BS degrees and pre-law BS degrees were known as fast-tracks to grad school. The Architecture College was second ONLY TO STANFORD. This writer started in Computer Science and finished with a BS in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Math and Computer Science.
Here’s what campus guides would never mention, some are minor nuisances many are serious problems:
- The few students accepted fill campus capacity and frequently overflow it
- this overflow makes things like class enrollment, parking, and scheduling a nightmare
- The quarter system is 8 weeks of steep learning curve, dead week and a nerve-shattering Finals Week
- Choosing a major (required for enrollment) forces 18-yr-olds to choose a career path
- Did YOU know what you wanted to be at 18? Was it realistic in any level?
- Overflow contributes to on avg 5.8 yrs to complete BA/BS-it took me 6
- If the freshman yr is completed, only a lucky handful can stay on-campus
- The rest will enter the price-gouged, dilapidated “white ghetto” nearby
- This ghetto is where 30,000 intelligent, young, overworked, students are consolidated
- The city compartmentalizes the permanent residents from students to its detriment
- The biggest scandals, many that became national news originate and occur in this ghetto
- The frats are bristling with date-rape, rohypnol-rape and actual violence rape
- Heavy-stress and high pressure on students attracts binge-drinking, drug abuse, even suicide
- Female college students are kidnapped, raped and murdered in disturbing qty
- Major scandals promote a culture of silence, Like Penn State w/o the kid-touching
- A Federal Prison borders the north end of campus (The Sheep Unit)
- The Diablo Nuclear Power Plant is just a few miles west
- Nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base conducts mysterious experiments, like weapons-testing
- Also nearby: Atascadero State Hospital – The only facility for convicted Sexually Violent Predators
None of this makes Cal Poly a bad university, nor does it make San Luis Obispo a poor town, it does motivate The university, residents, businesses and City officials, with (sadly) cooperation of local media to cooperate in the cover-up and eventual burial of stories The City and The University would not want parents considering Cuesta College, Cal Poly or nearby Allan Hancock College to know … the stories I mention here and cover in-depth in following installments are done so because they are suppressed truth and historically significant to the University and the City. Both deserve an objective archive, all I see online is marketing brochures. Tourist dollars trickle in, but keeping Cal Poly packed and the nearby warehousing of older students and Cuesta kids in over-priced slums, kids who have money, scholarships, grants, jobs and family-money is a vital income stream for Cal Poly, Cuesta and local business.
The city and university condone criminal activity. it leads to blow ups like riots, police abuse of authority, serial killers continue for years and murders remain unsolved. Subsequent are more cover-ups, minimizing the gravity of tragic events and obfuscation of online content regarding these murders, deaths, suicides and scandals. There are so many that, if known, would cross Cal Poly off MANY HS students’ wish lists—- parents would search for SLO or CPSLO and read all these things…..it could harm the bottom line….major stories are missing, difficult to locate or interpreted in retrospect by biased sources. Here are some common themes (which I will cover in-depth soon) to highlight the issue at hand:
Despite bans on drinking in the dorms and threats from RAs to expel for drug offenses, Campus Police and SLOPD make relatively few arrests … it’s more of an “all right you kids get out of here now, ok?”-like situation. Of course cops bust students just like every other school… What if a noticeable amount of felony possession/distribution cases emerged? What effect would it have on Cal Poly in the college-marketplace? A cadre of college kids, all in one place attracts a massive influx of weed, meth, coke, MDMA, psychedelics, date-rape drugs and benzodiazepenes.
Political forces turn a blind eye to drug trafficking barring extreme circumstances, some of which have been buried online once they drift from the public consciousness and become legend.
Ex-Cal Poly fraternity president appears in court on drug charges
I assure you this happens all the time moving weed around is a healthy hustle, less so today as it becomes more and more legal, but anyone with a fat sack in their pocket and a pound or two stashed away attracts two things: lot’s of buyers and a few competitors that want to jack those customers, weed and money…this occasionally leads to minor dust-ups (robbery, intimidation, threats, assault) but it’s still just kid stuff, there’s a significant degree of separation between major weed distribution (in tons, carried in Semis) and rich white kids who sell QPs. It’s at every college and hardly newsworthy.
Hard drugs on the other hand are in another league, weed is no threat to Cal Poly. Rohypnol, GHB or Roofies on the other hand… I mentioned this in the previous story, about how a kid accidentally OD’d on GHB by drinking a bottle of “Faderade” – a medium-sized Gatorade bottle kept around the local chapter of now disbarred SigChi as an easy goto device should the sudden urge to rape overcome our “esteemed” Fraternity System (in reality Frats are considered a way for unpopular kids to ‘buy friends’…few students join, they only show up to their parties for free booze)—This kid didn’t know that the scumbags at this frat used small amounts to dose their victims, even in distilled form (most of the bottle was real Gatorade) a teaspoon was enough to induce 12 hours of deep sleep. The drunk and dehydrated kid found it in their fridge and pounded it.
He lived with his roommate in Stenner Glen, king of the campus-close slums and adjacent to my own dilapidated 3 story studio in Mustang Village. Having virtually no association or contacts w/in the frats, word traveled fast. Once I found out I interviewed witnesses, police and covered the story in depth at KCPR and KVEC. I don’t recall local media putting much attention to it, I came up with very little in searching for ANY record of this happening, I remember it being discussed on national TV and radio though… (I really need a lexis-nexis account again!) even for a carefully designed Web search, it took me a while. To their credit, local indy rag “The New Times” (Similar to the OC Weekly) DID cover the story, but their archive mysteriously goes all the way back to 2004, starting a few months after I graduated and left the white ghetto, frats and it’s hidden evils behind me….just a month or so after I graduated and moved up to San Francisco where music gigs awaited and fellow musicians to throw light office work at me in-between gigs. It was reprinted in a forum post…an update to the lawsuit and investigation that followed. I could find no content on this major story from their local indy paper for f—s sake! ….so credit to whoever reprinted it….
Cal Poly SLO SX bros pay $357,000 in drug death
Frat boys settle big
Now mom of GHB victim Brian Gillis seeks criminal action
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
A group of Cal Poly fraternity members have agreed to pay $357,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a youth who died after a Sigma Chi pledge party in San Luis Obispo.
Brian Gillis, 19, of Poway, was found dead in his Stenner Glen apartment the morning following an off-campus party in April 2002 hosted by members of the now-disbarred fraternity.
Subsequent forensic investigation revealed the youth had slipped into a deep coma and died after ingesting a massive quantity of Gamma Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) at the party. The party, in turn, had been advertised as featuring an abundance of alcohol and drugs.
Leo and Patricia Gillis filed the lawsuit after their son’s death naming 10 defendants and alleging that Sigma Chi members “conspired to obfuscate the true facts of events leading up to Brian’s death.”
The Gillis’s will receive $250,000 from insurance carriers for Matthew Heintz, and lesser amounts from the remaining nine defendants: Joel Edwards; Nick Potter; Brian Schnarr; Nick Coccimiglio; Adam Morte; Robert Poorman; Matt Soderstrom; David Seminsky; and Tess Sheridan, a friend of fraternity members.
Patricia Gillis said this week she now plans to vigorously pursue the arrest and conviction of Heintz, the individual she says is responsible for providing the drug to her son the night he died. She maintains her son drank a beverage without knowing that it was laden with GHB.
In a March 18 cover story (“Trouble at Sigma Chi”), New Times cited sworn depositions from fraternity members and others who were at that fateful party. At least two of those giving deposition testimony identified Heintz, a former officer of Sigma Chi, as the man who concocted and provided the fatal cocktail. The drink, made with fruit juice and GHB, was mixed in a Gatorade bottle and dubbed “FaderAid” by Sigma Chi members.
It is a felony under California law to provide an unlawful drug to a person who subsequently dies from its use.
Nick Potter, one of those who settled in the civil case, said in a sworn deposition given earlier this year that he learned about the source of the fatal GHB dose when he “was a roommate of Heintz’s in 2003 in a San Luis Obispo residence.
“As far as me finding out from Heintz that he gave [Gillis] the GHB [on the night of his death], I found that out over the course of the past year when I was [Heintz’s] roommate, but I was unaware of who gave it to [Gillis] up until that point,” said Potter.
Earlier this year, Heintz’s defense attorney, David Cumberland of San Luis Obispo, said his client was aware of the allegations made by his former fraternity brothers but declined further comment.
GHB, originally developed for use as an anesthesia, also produces deep reversible depression of cerebral metabolism, decreases heart rate, and generally slows down body functions. An amount of less than a single teaspoon will quickly induce a deep coma and can eventually cause death.
The settlement leaves unanswered the question of the fraternity’s members’s behavior immediately after word spread of the young Gillis’s death.
The night after Gillis died, about 30 members of Sigma Chi gathered at Lake Nacimiento to discuss the tragedy. They sat around a campfire in what one member described as a “round-table.” Officers of the fraternity later would deny to authorities that they discussed any kind of “cover-up” or tried to fabricate a story to protect the house and its members. “We were out there to remember his life,” Potter said of Gillis.
Patricia Gillis does not mince words when she opines about local police investigative efforts in her son’s case.
“They have been acting like this is an everyday occurrence,” she said recently. “The San Luis Obispo Police Department will never admit it botched the investigation. Sigma Chi has been running the police department and their parents for years. The police are obstructing justice.”
She also said she believes Gillis that police are handling the case as “just another overdose of a college kid,” and are not taking seriously her contention that Brian Gillis might have consumed the GHB without really knowing what he was doing.
The Gillis’s attorney, Shaun Martin of San Diego, said the settlement “does not fully serve justice. The people responsible for Brian’s death have yet to be held accountable.”
Steve Brown, San Luis Obispo County’s chief deputy district attorney, said in a recent letter to New Times that the case remains under investigation and declined further comment. Police officials similarly declined to discuss the case, citing its ongoing nature.
I don’t think any info is available online from the publisher but I do credit The New Times for printing the story.
I wanted to provide a link to Daniel Blackburn, he was a great contributor to honest journalism in SLO – we shared inside info from time-to-time, the same way Robbery-Homicide and Vice cross paths…but a search shows nothing about his work as journalist in San Luis Obispo. nor will you find me as having reported for The Mustang Daily, KCPR or KVEC…you’d need micro-fiche or lexis-nexis.
I do however give huge credit to http://www.greekchat.com/ for making Blackburn’s story available.
Coming soon to San Luis Obispo Archives:
–The truth about the “Biggest Mardi Gras west of the Mississippi” Riots in 2002 and 2004
–Forget me: The erosion and destruction of RememberMe and the Red Handprints
–Why Campus Police condone drinking and drugging
–The link from AG, Los Osos and Paso Robles; poor white trash and Cal Poly rich white kids: Meth!
–Pink roses and Pig Shit: The Legacy of Alex Madonna
–Son of Samantha-Arroyo Grande mother visits the Red Bricks, to help her son hide a dead body**
–Gone: The Shack and it’s infamous owner Scott Peterson
–Chuck Liddell, security guard at Mother’s….I understand he is relatively famous now. heh.
–The UCSB Halloween and Cal Poly Mardi Gras/St Paddy “Mayhem Exchange Program”
–Vigilantes – how students exploited frats with known rapists for fun, profit and revenge
–Yosemite Hall in 1998.
–UNIX, Ethernet, Quake II, Worms, ftp, Napster and Psilocybin: a freshman retrospecticus
*Please note that Blackburn’s story was reprinted w/o permission on that forum, yet appears here in it’s entirety as part of a historical archive containing historical events that are being suppressed. This tragedy is one of many. I’m spotlighting the Real history of Cal Poly. Therefore the content is protected per Fair Use.
**A female student went missing one night, last seen with “Son of Samantha” We covered the story extensively at KVEC and KCPR as the body was never found and the missing woman’s mother had launched a web site and frequented our studios to promote her campaign to have Samantha’s backyard dug up. As of this writing, the site is offline and though there is a commonly accepted theory about what happened in the male student’s dorm that night. To this writer’s knowledge there is still no body…without SonOfSamantha.com (???) I have no updates on her campaign – full story to be printed when source materials surface.
Students and alumni can offer additions, comments and questions about the archives easily in the comments section. SLO Residents, Government, CP Admins, SLO PD and members of local media (KSBY, KVEC, The Trib, The New Times, The Mustang Daily, et al.) are also invited to comment. I’m happy to respond, debate…. any comment not containing spam will print unedited and I will get back to you. -cw