OPINION: Will we ever be safe? College students still worry about spiked drinks

This article makes frequent reference to delicate sexual violence and harassment issues, such as rape and drug-related assault. Please read at your discretion.

When I was 21-years-old, it was 2010. “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa and “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songz were big hits. Clothes that women wore to the club were somehow business casual meets club chic. Everything was sheer, sparkled and had a high collar. 

Many things have changed in the last 11 years, but somehow we still live in a world where drinks are being spiked and people are being assaulted regularly. Society needs to start holding people accountable. 

When I was out at bars in my 20s, my friends and I had unspoken rules. Always keep your drink close to your chest, preferably with a hand covering it. Never raise your cup above your head while dancing, so a guy can’t dump drugs into it. Never, ever, leave your drink unattended, even with friends. Be cautious when accepting a drink from a stranger. 

It seems these rules, years later, are still in place. Women are still going out, never able to completely let go and have fun. There’s always the worry that they could get drugged. 

The question is, why is this worry solely on women’s shoulders? Are men going out, worried they’ll end up on the floor of the bathroom or in someone’s bed? Because I always was. 

Even now, I’m in my 30s, married and rarely go out dancing, I can’t let go of the fear that I’m a target. 

So how can we, as a society, do better? 

One of the main issues with being given a date rape drug is it exits your system quickly. According to the National Drug Screening service, Rohypnol, commonly known as Roofies, leaves the system after one to two days. Often, it takes survivors of sexual assault much longer to come to terms with being drugged or consequentally raped. 

There’s the possibility of getting a positive result from a hair sample, but even that window is less than a week. 

Many survivors say it doesn’t always register right away that someone has slipped something into their drink. Sometimes it takes months to realize why you’ve been so unsettled and felt like a date that was supposed to be fun turned into something you couldn’t wrap your head around.

Anyone who has been slipped a drug is not able to give consent. There is no “yes” when you’re under the influence of a date rape drug. 

According to Alchohol.org, it’s reported that 52% of spiked drink cases happen or are reported during college years. How can college students feel comfortable going out and enjoying the college lifestyle when they’re constantly at risk of being assaulted?

For starters, college campuses can educate their students about not only the reality of being drugged, but the reality of being convicted of a sexual assault. 

Bars and clubs should also be on alert, staffing dance floors and bars with more security. There are even test strips they could sell or provide at the bar that detect if something was put in a drink. 

The biggest thing any one person can do is to hold themselves, their friends and even strangers accountable. The good old adage “if you see something, say something” works outside of the airport. Staying silent in response to seeing a drink being spiked or someone taking home someone who is falling over is not acceptable. 

11 years ago, my friends and I hoped that in the future women would be able to feel secure in going out and having a good time without being in danger. Over a decade later, it is unconscionable that the same fears are perpetuated on a new wave of students. 

We need to do better, we need to see change. We deserve to feel safe.