Public Safety investigates date-rape drug incident

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Late Monday night, an email sent by Public Safety to the DePauw University community stirred rumors of an incident involving date-rape drugs.

The email, which was sent shortly after 11 p.m., said students “showed signs of a high level of intoxication that was not consistent with their intake of alcohol.” According to the campus activity report, the event was reported at 6 p.m.

“We’re investigating, so there’s not a whole lot of information to share,” said Angela Nally, director of Public Safety. “And I’m actually not 100 percent that we’ll be able to share more information when the investigation is completed.”

Myrna Hernandez, assistant dean of students for campus living and community development, could not provide any further details at this time, and senior CJ Cazee, Interfraternity president could not be reached for comment.

Nally emphasized the importance of bystander intervention.

“Unfortunately there is a culture where lots of people go out together but we rarely stay together, and we have a group mentality that somebody else is watching other people,” Nally said. “I would really want our students to remember to take care of each other when they’re out and about.”

According to womenshealth.gov, the most common forms of date-rape drugs are Rohypnol, Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB) and Ketamine, although alcohol in excess can be used in the same manner.

“It’s hard to know in the moment if you are a person that has been given something without your knowledge,” Nally said.

Symptoms of these drugs include loss of muscle control, consciousness and memory.

“The biggest indicator that there might have been something in your drink is when your level of intoxication is vastly different than what you remember consuming,” Nally said.“People can be walking, talking, functioning and their tape recorder is not on, but they don’t necessarily look like they’re completely incapacitated.”

Nally encourages anyone that thinks they may have consumed a drink with a date-rape drug to immediately contact Public Safety.

“It’s also very quick to metabolize through your body,” Nally said. “You want to immediately call Public Safety so that we can investigate because that evidence can be naturally flushed out of your blood stream and out of urine really quickly.”

As of right now, the only way to tell if a drink contains a date-rape drug is with specialty coasters and glasses that provide a litmus test of sorts. However, according to an August 2014 article from The Washington Post, four college students at North Carolina State University are working to develop a nail polish called “Undercover Colors.” The nail polish is designed to change colors upon contact with date-rape drugs, which requires the wearer to place their finger in their drink.

Nally said incidents involving date-rape drugs are not common on campus.

“I don’t want to say that bad things can happen,” she said, “but the possibility exists on any campus.”