It’s a typical Saturday afternoon for first-year Taylor, whose name has been changed to protect her identity. After a long week, it’s time to have some fun with friends. The weather is finally nice and the season of backyard parties is just beginning. Taylor and her friends decide to venture off-campus to a party behind a fraternity house.
Little does Taylor know, she will consume only half a drink before the rest of her day becomes hazy. Taylor walks into the party an eager first-year, excited for a good time, and walks out the victim of drug-slipping.
According to an article by USA Today, 15,000 American women and men find themselves in the emergency room after being unknowingly drugged. About 60 percent of those cases occurred after the unknown suspect slipped a drug into the victim’s drink.
Miami is no exception to this statistic, as Miami University Police Department Chief of Police John McCandless explained.
“We’ve certainly taken reports, maybe four or five in the last semester, where victims believed they’d been given substances that had altered their physical state,” McCandless said.
At the party, Taylor and her friends decided to pour themselves some shots. They were having a fun time and enjoying each other’s company. The only thing they were missing were some “chasers,” Taylor said, referring to a non-alcoholic beverage, often a juice or soda, with which one can wash down a shot of hard liquor.
One of Taylor’s friends was good friends with a fraternity member at the party. He gallantly offered to fetch her a “chaser,” and because Taylor knew the member was close to her friend, she thought nothing of it.
The fraternity member turned around to go behind a tree to get her a chaser and returned shortly to deliver it to her. That is the last thing Taylor remembers of that Saturday.
Unfortunately, it is all too common to be drugged without knowing it. The Office on Women’s Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lists not taking drinks from other people as a top suggestion when protecting yourself from being a victim. McCandless advised strongly against it or against taking a drink from a communal container.
“If you do make the decision to consume, drinking from a common container can be risky,” McCandless said.
Director of Student Wellness Rebecca Baudry, touched on the importance of prevention of the crime as a whole.
“It’s important to look at how to prevent the victim,” Baudry said. “But it’s also important to look at how do you prevent the crime.”
Miami has a few programs that deal with sexual assault and prevention, but Baudry encouraged students to be aware of their situation.
“It’s important to know the signs and what to do,” Baudry said.
Taylor and her friends continued to have a good time at the party, but soon decided to head over to “Beat the Clock” at Brick Street Bar and Grille. Though Taylor has no recollection of this, her friends noticed she was acting intoxicated but they assumed she had just consumed a lot at the party.
As the afternoon wore on, her friends decided it was time to leave “Beat the Clock” and return to the residence halls. It had now been two hours since she had consumed the drink at the party behind the fraternity house, but she was still acting very drunk and started to show some odd symptoms. Taylor’s friends began to realize something was really wrong with their friend-no amount of alcohol could be producing this reaction. With this in mind, it was clear Taylor needed to go to a hospital.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, some of the signs a person has been drugged include drunk feelings, problems talking, confusion and difficulty with motor movements. Following the incident, date rape drugs can cause loss of memory during the period.
After blood tests came back at the hospital, the doctors told Taylor they had found Codeine and Rohypnol in her body. Though this shook her, she opted not to file a report with the police.
McCandless said the decision of whether to report such an event to the police was up to the individual but he encouraged students to report it someone, so they could be connected to resources for helping them process what happened.
“The decision to report is a very personal one,” McCandless said. “We encourage students to report to the police but if they don’t feel comfortable talking to the police, the university has a lot of resources as well.”
Taylor is not the only Miami student to be drugged at a party and was fortunate her friends observed her odd behavior and intervened. House parties, both in the greek and non-greek communities, play host to such dangers for all who chose to consume alcohol at them.
Sam Crockett, President of the Inter-Fraternity Council at Miami, said he does not often receive reports of any drugs with alcohol violations. But when they do come in, it is often a tough case to handle.
“It’s hard for us to know or prove that the drugs were in the system mainly because toxicology reports are private,” Crockett said. “But we do follow up on the fact that fraternities may have been serving alcohol to minors and we do act upon that.”
Cait Duckworth, president of the Panhellenic Council at Miami, also stated Panhellenic will get involved if such a case comes through, however reports do not occur often.
“We don’t have a lot of things come through regarding drugs mixed with alcohol,” Duckworth said. “But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a main concern for us.”
IFC and Panhellenic both encourage Miami students to always be safe with alcohol, and despite rumors denied that such situations are as common as people make them out to be. Regardless, they do still happen and the Greek community along with the university takes it very seriously.