Date rape drugs reappear on campus

Students have reported a use of date rape drugs at last Saturday’s Brooks Late Night party, adding to the long list of problems that have prompted Security to temporarily suspend the party until new house presidents are elected.

Julia Karoly ’03, the involved student’s Junior Advisor (JA), reported that the North Adams Regional Hospital had confirmed the presence of the drug. According to Karoly, the female freshman was with friends throughout the evening and was surprised when an unknown male handed her a beer at the party. Reportedly feeling somewhat uncomfortable after drinking the beer, she asked her friends to take her home.

“Thirty to 40 minutes after getting home, she was in and out of consciousness,” Karoly said. “We even had to hit her a few times to wake her up.”

The student went to the hospital Saturday night, where doctors confirmed the use of a tranquilizer. Exactly what type of drug was used will not be known until tests return from the lab.

In a pamphlet intended to inform students of the dangers of date rape drugs, the Health Center highlights Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) as one of the most common date rape drugs. The pamphlet reports, “a 0.5 gram quantity [of GHB] is enough to render the person who ingests it helpless.” The Health Center is also releasing flyers about other date rape drugs and another entitled “Reducing the Risk of Substance Related Rape.”

While not free to comment on this specific incident, Laini Sporbert, a health educator and substance abuse counselor at the health center, said, “Nationwide use of date rape drugs has increased in the last three to five years.” She added, “There have been numerous deaths on other campuses when these drugs are mixed with other substances.”

This incident was one of many problems arising from the Brooks party, which Dave Boyer, assistant director of Security, deemed “a complete disaster.” The evening also included the theft of three laptop computers, rampant urination throughout Brooks and fire capacity violations.

Security has issued a temporary moratorium on the Brooks Late Night parties until the new house presidents are elected. Citing the continual need to shut the party down, Boyer hopes to move the party to a different location, or work with the party hosts to create a safer environment for students.

“Brooks is a very difficult party to run,” Boyer said. “There are multiple entrances, few bathrooms and the urination causes serious health concerns. We really need to develop a good team with a game plan to run the party effectively.”

He added that the apparent use of date rape drugs “scares the hell out of me,” advising that individuals “take a first step by watching their own drink.”

In response to the problems at Brooks, Security called in all of the hosts and peer monitors of parties that Saturday night. After temporarily suspending the students’ TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) training, the certification was reinstated on Wednesday after students and Security met to discuss the events and how to solve them. Steve Floyd ’02, the 21-year-old host of the party who was present at the meeting, said, “We had a productive discussion on the Williams social scene and how to improve it.”

While no fixed solution has been established yet for the Brooks Late Night parties, Boyer reported that the Williamstown Police Department (WPD) has made progress tracking down the thieves, having positively identified a suspect from a lineup.