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Student safety and alleged druggings

The content of this letter is focused on predatory drugs and what you can do if you think you or someone you know may have been drugged.

The following was emailed to all students.

Dear students,


Below, I am sharing with you an important message regarding your safety in light of recent reports that students may have been drugged at parties. Colleagues from throughout the university are offering a variety of resources open to all of you. Please take a moment to review this information. 

Sincerely,

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

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Dear students,


We are deeply troubled by separate reports of alleged druggings at Stanford parties. You may have read about these cases in the AlertSU reports of October 19, 2019, and October 12, 2019. We want to be clear that drugging another person violates the fundamental principle of respect for others and is a violation of university policy. Further, it is a criminal assault to cause someone to ingest a drug without their knowledge and permission. An impacted party is never at fault for being victimized by someone acting with malicious intent. Druggings do not necessarily involve “date rape” types of drugs or result in unwanted sexual contact. However, predatory/“date rape” drugs are often used to enact unwanted sexual contact. The content of this letter is focused on predatory drugs and what you can do if you think you or someone you know may have been drugged. We have listed resources at the bottom of this letter that support impacted parties in whatever way they would like to engage.

What are predatory/“date rape” drugs?

Predatory drugs are usually very powerful depressants and/or tranquilizers that are used for the purpose of rendering an individual incapacitated. They are often mixed with alcoholic beverages and some are tasteless and odorless, such as GHB. The most common predatory/“date rape” drugs are alcohol, GHB, Rohypnol, and Ketamine. Because alcohol is a depressant and some of these drugs also suppress the nervous system, the mix can be life threatening.

What are the signs/symptoms of being drugged?

GHB and Rohypnol are depressants and therefore the signs and symptoms are very similar to being heavily intoxicated (weakness, fatigue, slurred speech, loss of motor coordination, and visual impairment). These drugs begin to impact the person within 15-30 minutes of consumption. If someone appears to be far more intoxicated than they should be for how much they drank, and the onset of these symptoms is severe and sudden, they may have been drugged. Ketamine, while not a depressant, alters perception, and may cause hallucinations and heart palpitations.

How can we, as a community, prevent druggings on campus?

Stanford strives to embody a culture of care and we can all do our part to prevent these acts of harm. As a group hosting events, there are several things you might consider to reduce risk of contaminated drinks:

  • Have a single point of beverage service at your event so that you may closely monitor the alcohol and other non-alcoholic beverages.
  • As much as possible, serve canned, single serving beverages (e.g. 12-ounce can of beer, five-ounce can of wine, canned sodas, and bottled water).
  • While hard alcohol is prohibited at registered events, remember that any mixed beverages served at events (e.g. homemade non-alcoholic punch) should be made to order and not pre-poured.
  • Any beverage (alcoholic or not) that is in a large container with the potential for tampering should be closely monitored by the bartender/sober monitor.
  • Have a sober monitor/bartender attending to the beverage service AT ALL TIMES.
  • Do not allow guests to bring in outside sources of alcohol.
  • If you believe that the alcohol or EANABS at your event have been tampered with, first remove all suspected beverages, next notify the RD on call, and notify the Stanford Department of Public Safety (DPS) to get further instructions.

In addition, individuals can also utilize strategies that may reduce the risk of being drugged. Again, an impacted party is never at fault for being victimized by someone acting with malicious intent. With that said, we want to equip you with strategies for how to look out for yourself and your friends. You might consider the following:

  • Do not take a drink that has already been opened.
  • Order your own drinks and watch them being made/poured. Avoid drinks from pre-poured/pre-mixed sources.
  • Do not leave your drink unattended to come back to later.
  • Predatory drugs are very powerful and can incapacitate someone after one drink. Tell your friends what your drink limit is for the night so they can identify if your level of intoxication is not consistent with the amount you have had to drink; tell someone if you start to feel much more intoxicated than you expected/would expect given the amount you have consumed.
  • If you notice suspicious behavior including someone lingering around the beverage service area, and/or adding unknown powders, liquids, or tablets to drinks, report this immediately to the hosting group and ask that it remove the alcohol.

What to do if you think you have been drugged

We highly encourage anyone who suspects that they or a friend have been drugged to review the following:

  1. You should seek medical treatment as soon as possible and disclose this information to your health care provider so that the health care provider is able to provide the best possible care. Be aware that drugging is a form of violence that can trigger mandatory reporting to law enforcement in California. As is the case with an individual who has been sexually assaulted, a victim is not required to provide a statement to law enforcement. It is important to note that involving law enforcement enables evidence (namely a blood or urine sample) to be collected and retained in accordance with procedures that are admissible in court should you want to pursue a criminal case. 
  2. Evidence collection is a separate process from the collection of a blood or urine sample by a health care provider for the purpose of a medical evaluation and treatment. DPS has the ability to submit samples collected as evidence in a criminal investigation to a certified crime lab. The crime lab can test for hundreds of potential drugs. In comparison, many emergency departments do not routinely screen for predatory drugs. Further, emergency departments typically screen for a much smaller sample of drugs compared to what a crime lab can test. 
  3. Because predatory drugs are rapidly metabolized, it is strongly recommended that individuals involve law enforcement and provide a sample for evidence purposes within 12 hours after ingestion. Some of the predatory drugs are metabolized at an even faster rate, so it is recommended that a sample is provided to law enforcement in a way that meets evidentiary standards as soon as possible. 
  4. During a forensic exam (if one chooses to have one) of an individual who has been sexually assaulted, a trained SART nurse will collect blood and urine samples. These samples are transferred to law enforcement in a way that has been formalized and is admissible in court. The samples will be tested by the crime lab when a victim chooses to pursue a criminal investigation.
  5. Students who report to Stanford DPS that they may have been drugged will receive outreach from their residence deans and sometimes the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education and/or the Title IX Office. These resources are meant to provide support for individuals.

For help understanding these options, there are several resources on campus:

Confidential resources

Confidential Support Team
Kingscote Gardens (third floor)
650-725-9955

Counseling and Psychological Services
866 Campus Drive
650-723-3785

Non-confidential resources

Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Education and Response
Kingscote Gardens (Suite 220)
650-725-1056
saraoffice@stanford.edu

Title IX
Kingscote Gardens (Suite 240)
650-497-4955
titleix@stanford.edu

Additional Resources

Sincerely,

Ralph Castro
Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE)

Carley Flanery
Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Education and Response (SARA)

Helen Wilson
Stanford Confidential Support Team (CST)

Laura Wilson
Stanford University Department of Public Safety (DPS)