EDITORIAL: Rowan needs preventative education for drink spiking

An aerial view of a Halloween dage on Rowan's campus in 2016. - Photo / James Bullock

According to a study conducted by the University of South Carolina, Columbia, roughly 1 in 13 college students have reported having their drink spiked during their time in college. 

Drink spiking specifically refers to when alcohol or an additional substance — such as a date-rape drug or roofie — is placed in an individual’s drink without their knowledge or consent. People can begin to feel nauseous or light-headed and start to stagger or lose their balance. Oftentimes, people who consume these drugs black out quickly, with little to no knowledge of the night before. Because of this, the exact frequency of these incidents can be difficult to determine, as well as because these drugs exit people’s systems so quickly. 

These side effects place the affected individuals in precarious, often dangerous situations. In the same survey, four out of five individuals reported negative outcomes from being drugged, such as sexual assault, blacking out and being sick. Rowan is not the exception to this trend. 

On March 19, Rowan informed its student body via Rowan Advisory that a female student stated that her drink had been spiked and further alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by an off-campus resident when the incident occurred on Dec. 10, 2022.

Despite what seems to be the constant presence of Rowan Public Safety and despite the required course on alcohol and drug safety all students must take when they enroll at Rowan, incidents such as these still take place — and likely at higher rates than what is being reported.

According to the Rowan Wellness Center’s resources on drink spiking, “Drink spiking is a crime, and will be prosecuted by Police. Rowan University will also discipline students responsible for drink spiking.”

However, we at The Whit believe that there are preemptive measures that need to be taken prior to incidents occurring. While ensuring that students take these basic courses is critical, there needs to be dedicated education for the members of the Rowan community that are most likely to find themselves in an environment to participate in drink spiking or are most likely to be victims of it, such as the members of Greek life and sports teams. 

The University of South Carolina, Columbia’s survey states that of the respondents who indicated that they had drugged someone or knew someone who had — 83 out of 6,064 — the primary reasons were to either sexually assault someone or “related to fun.” This means that not only does education on drink spiking need to focus on aspects of sexual assault, but also on how spiking someone’s drink to “have fun” is still a blatant disregard of bodily autonomy and is illegal in the state of New Jersey.

So many of the measures to prevent drink-spiking focus on showing individuals how to protect themselves by covering their cup with their hand or not accepting drinks from strangers. Rowan University needs to take preventative measures to stop the individuals who may commit these crimes before they take action by providing more targeted education on the effects of drugging and the charges one may face if they participate in this illegal activity. 

Being present for students in the aftermath of these situations is crucial, but if there is anything that Rowan can do to prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place then every possible avenue must be explored. 

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