Content warning: This article contains mention of rape and sexual assault.
On August 26, two incidents of drink tampering and one report of physical assault were reported by UNC Crime Alert at the fraternity Pi Kappa Phi.
The UNC community was alerted of this incident on Sept. 15 out of compliance with the Clery Act, according to the Alert Carolina notification. That was all that was done.
In November, Cornell University suspended all fraternity events following one report of sexual assault and four other reports of drink tampering.
Two reports of drink tampering and one report of physical assault — and likely others that have not been reported or disclosed due to privacy laws — and UNC merely sends a text notification nearly three weeks following the incident.
Cornell’s decision was made by their student-led Interfraternity Council in an emergency meeting. While it’s important to note that Cornell is a private institution, it remains true that neither the University or UNC’s Interfraternity Council have sought similar emergency action to deal with this crisis.
The blueprint for remediation exists in both Cornell’s example and in student-led petitions. UNC has chosen not to pursue any of the options at its disposal. Sadly, remediation would be the University admitting to the prevalence of this issue on its campus, so it has yet to make this crucial change.
Even when the damage is done and survivors are created, the University fails to intervene.
On college campuses, a setting that has been shown to have higher instances of sexual assault and drink tampering, there has yet to be a proactive response.
Beyond increasing rates of sexual assault, these drugs can also be deadly on their own. Common exposure to date rape drugs like ketamine and Rohypnol — even in small quantities — can induce a loss of consciousness, seizures, coma and amnesia.
As a result of this incident, there has been a push by UNC students in a petition with over 1,500 signatures to provide alcohol drink spiking test strips freely to anyone who needs them. This has been shown to be feasible throughout the country. For example, the University of North Florida freely provides test strips that can discreetly check samples for GHB and ketamine.
These test kits are relatively inexpensive, with a cost of less than a dollar for each one, and are easy to use. The implementation of this precaution would be achievable without posing a burden to the University while changing the lives of potential victims of sexual assault.
While providing these test strips could reduce the prevalence of drink tampering on campus, the University needs to create a narrative of less tolerance and more responsiveness in cases of drink tampering and sexual assault.
Students should not have to normalize this risk when attending parties and social events. UNC needs to impose larger disincentives and crack down on institutions that perpetuate this sort of behavior.
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