Drink spiking: exploring the crime’s prevalence at off-campus parties

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Drink spiking has been a significant concern for Rowan University students while attending off-campus parties. 

Parties are a common place to have a drug or unknown chemical slipped into a drink, though any public setting can increase the risk of being targeted and possibly impaired. Rowan aims to combat the prevalence of drink spiking by implementing rules that recognized fraternities must follow. 

However, many Rowan students have found that both men and women continue to be victims of drink spiking at parties. While attending a fraternity party in the Fall 2023 semester, a male student, who wished to remain anonymous, reported finding themselves on the ground after drinking a batch of presumably spiked jungle juice. 

“At a [fraternity that The Whit cannot independently verify] party, they had a ‘girls only juice.’ I had my friend get me a cup of it and ended up falling over on the street that night from whatever was in that drink. There were also multiple women falling around the party and the street. I can say from experience it happens to both [sexes],” he said.

Another instance of a fraternity partygoer being spiked was earlier this semester. They saw a couple following them throughout the basement and watched the pair place an unknown substance in their drink. 

“At least for me, someone’s tried it. I literally saw something fly in the air. It literally flicked with their finger,” they said. “I feel like most of it only happens off to the corner, probably near the bar area, and you really gotta be watching everybody.” 

However, many drink-spiking cases occur in unrecognized fraternities. With them not being chartered by the university, these organizations are not under the same rules and regulations as the recognized Rowan fraternities.

“There have been incidents at unrecognized fraternities that many women have expressed on social media platforms,” said student Rolando Martinez, a senior sports communications and media major. “Which creates problems to the recognized fraternities here at Rowan because it puts a bad name to Greek life.” 

In a 2023 study conducted by the American Addiction Center, an average of 51% of men and 46% of women reported having their drinks or food spiked at a house party. The East Coast has seen an increase in drink spiking as well with Boston lawmakers calling it a disturbing public crisis, with more than 160 reports of the incident in 2022. 

Several substances can be slipped into a beverage to impair an unknowing victim, including depressants such as Xanax and illegal “date-rape drugs” like Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and Rohypnol, otherwise known as “roofies.” The phrase “date-rape drugs” has been used to describe common drink spiking substances that can influence dissociation and force an individual to black out. 

Any drink spiking incident must be reported to the Department of Public Safety. When the team receives a report, according to Rowan’s Public Safety Emergency Management Coordinator Michael Kantner, they will check on the student’s health. While these incidents primarily occur at off-campus gatherings, Public Safety coordinates with the Glassboro Police Department to conduct an investigation on potential incidents. 

“To me, one is enough, one is too many. Whether you have one or you have five, one is too many. It’s very important to get out the message, to find out where it happened, hold the people accountable who did it, so we can stop any future behaviors,” said Kantner. “We try to educate people about it, never take a drink offered by a stranger and never leave your drink unattended.”

Service announcements including safety tips for drink spiking are sent via email to students by Public Safety at the beginning of each semester. From Kantner’s perspective, Public Safety aims to educate students on how to drink responsibly. 

“It’s a college experience. People are young and want to socialize. If you want to go out, have a drink, and socialize at a legal age you should be able to do that as a positive experience, not a negative one. We try to make a coordinated effort to get the message out,” said Kantner. 

The Wellness Center has seen a spike in visits about drink spiking in the last few years. 

“We hear about it all the time, and there has been a real spike in this in the last couple of years. It’s not ever gonna go away, it’s just what goes on,” said Logan. “What we try to do is to tell people, when you go to parties, you bring your own liquor and you don’t drink their jungle juice.” 

The Wellness Center also openly shares information with students about drink spiking to reduce risks and enhance campus safety, with no intent to blame victims of the crime. In hopes of shedding light on drink spiking, all incoming Rowan students take a required course on alcohol and drug safety. 

Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor at the Wellness Center Bob Logan helps protect students who are victims of drink spiking and works to educate them.

“If somebody shares that they were spiked we ask where they were and what happened. What tends to happen is that the same groups that keep doing it keep popping up,” said Logan. “At that point, I contact Greek life and say you need to reel these people in or let them know we keep getting reports.” 

The Wellness Center offers confidential support and consultations to all students who believe they have fallen victim to drink spiking by contacting logan@rowan.edu or calling the number (856) 256-4333. Rowan Public Safety advises students to always dial 911 in an emergency and to report any incidents of drink spiking by calling the number 856-256-4922. 

According to another fraternity brother, off-campus fraternity houses have brothers who hold a risk position chair. They began making their juice batches in front of the guests to show the guests they served what they would be drinking. 

“A lot of them began making the batches of their drinks in front of the guests to prove it’s all safe and they know what they will be consuming,” said the fraternity brother. 

On Thursday, April 25, The Wellness Center is partnering with Students Organized to Affirm Recovery (SOAR) to host a substance-free dage at the Magnolia/Willow Gazebo from 2 to 5 p.m. While educating students on alcohol and drug support resources Rowan offers, The Wellness Center will be giving out drink spiking prevention covers to put on cups. 

Under the Good Samaritan law, no one will be legally punished for calling 911 in an emergency where illegal activities are taking place. Drink spiking is a critical issue and partygoers should not be afraid to get help for fear of retribution.

Drinking spiking is an issue that impacts college campuses around the country. Reiterating the importance of being observant, Logan says that while people may think they will never encounter tainted beverages, it’s important to not be ignorant and have a plan in case things go wrong.

“I saw a student that happened to, and they didn’t know until they ended up in the hospital,” said Logan. “It’s very clandestine. It’s a very difficult thing to do and the best thing is to create awareness around it and don’t think it can’t happen to you. Have a good game plan when you go out, and a lot of that means watching your drinks and getting covers for drinks.” 


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