Date-Rape Drug Scare— Is “Don’t Get Raped” Enough?

By Dagny Xinyue Lu ‘15Staff Writer

A campus safety alert was announced to the Scripps Community on Sept. 14 reporting on the possible presence of date-rape drugs on the 5C campus. The notification email, sent out by the Dean of Students Rebecca Lee, stated, “credible information was received by Pomona’s Dean of Students Office that the drug often referred to as the ‘date rape drug’ is possibly being sold on (Pomona’s) campus.”

“This is the first time, during my two and a half years of service at the Claremont Colleges, that campus safety has been made aware of the alleged sale or use of this substance on campus,” said Shahram Ariane, director of Campus Safety.

The type of date-rape drugs sold on campus is suspected to be either Rohypnol or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), both of which are prescription-strength sleeping aids that can induce amnesia and unconsciousness. Overdose of either type of drug puts the victim at risk for life-threatening conditions such as respiratory depression, cardiac arrest, and coma.

Several precautionary measurements were outlined in the email to ensure a safer and more enjoyable weekend. Students were urged not to accept drinks from strangers, not to leave drinks unattended, and to seek medical attention when they or their friends “seem to be more intoxicated than what the amount of alcohol consumed would warrant.”

The consequential concern regarding sexual assault that the email subtly alluded to was well-perceived by the student body. A group of students who were going out th

e evening the email was sent out claimed to have received text messages from a common friend of theirs reminding them to “be safe and don’t get raped.”

“I thought the text was funny because ‘don’t get raped’ just sounded so silly. It’s not something you would normally say,” said one of the students.

Another student from the group expressed her concerns upon reading the text. “When I really thought about it, it actually gave me chills, just the thought that I might even actually get raped here; that there are legitimate rapists on this campus buying drugs to take sexual advantage of people.”

Such disbelief towards sexual assault on the 5C campus seemed to have been a common one among students within the Scripps community. The prevalent emotion of surprise and disappointment comes from one of two places: misperception of the past or misperception of the present. Emily Hampshire ('15), vice president of It Ends Here, believes that it comes from the former.

“Yes, we live in the Claremont ‘bubble’, but these things do happen here,” said Emily. "Sexual assault and other forms of interpersonal violence occur on a spectrum. While the use of a 'date-rape drug' is definitely at the extreme end, there are other forms of violence on the spectrum that we must acknowledge as well.”

How should we address issues of sexual assault on campus? “Efforts to address sexual assault should be many-layered and community-wide. Both parties involved in assault situations need to be informed about consent—both how to ask for it and how to give it clearly. Many problematic situations can be prevented in the first place if both parties share an understanding about the role of healthy boundaries and consent.”

For more information about It Ends Here as a student organization, or to further engage in the dialogue of personal safety and sexual assault please contact Emily Hampshire, Lily Foss ('13), or Anna Marburger ('15).