For years, Florida State University has maintained its reputation as a top five party school, with ESPN Southwest Florida placing it at No. 3. Those who attend FSU are well aware of the drinking and clubbing scene, and all the territory that comes with being a top party school, but has it gone too far? Recently, even more so than in the past, FSU has seen an increase in drink spiking happening both on and around campus, according to the Florida State University Police Department. My question is, what’s being done about it?
The situation has become so severe that both Panhellenic and FSUPD have sent out warnings and alerts. Panhellenic’s Safety Update stated that all Panhellenic presidents held an emergency meeting to discuss recent drink-spiking incidents after the FSU Victim Advocate Program informed them of the severity of the situation on campus.
Along with the message sent out by Panhellenic, FSUPD sent out a “timely warning” notification informing students of a significant increase in the occurrence of drink spiking on and around campus. This notification included a list of ways in which to stay safe and ensure your drink is not spiked. Like this list, the notification Panhellenic sent out suggested that individuals wipe “the lid of… drink[s] down with a Clorox wipe.”
In addition to this singular notification, FSU Student Affairs and the Department of Student Support and Transitions (DSST) have also posted several Instagram infographics reiterating the safety information outlined in the “timely warning.” Nowhere in either the Instagram posts or the FSUPD message is there anything mentioned about how FSU as an administration will handle the situation, nor is there any threat of legal action for the assailants. Her Campus at FSU reached out to FSU administration for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.
Among the FSU students I have spoken to concerning this issue, both male and female, there has been an overwhelming sentiment of disappointment regarding the lack of adequate response by the FSU administration. Through a survey I conducted on social media in early November, I found that 15.1% of the respondents had been a victim of drink spiking on or around FSU’s campus. Of those who shared this, 100% felt that the situation was not handled appropriately. This is absurd. Similarly, the survey also found that 77.4% of respondents felt that FSU’s response to the increase in drink spiking has been wholly inadequate.
On Oct. 26, I had the privilege of speaking with Ella Garcia, a member of the Student Senate for Surge. Garcia was recently responsible for introducing legislation for the official condemnation of hazing and drink spiking on and around campus. She mentioned that while this has always been a prevalent and important issue, it was beginning to hit a little closer to home, and she feels that “as senators, our role is to make sure we ensure the health and safety of the student body.”
Garcia echoes the sentiments felt by other FSU students I have spoken with: that FSU’s response to the drink spiking crisis places the responsibility of safety on the potential targets as opposed to the attackers. Through the social media survey I conducted, 73.7% of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement, “FSU’s advice regarding drink spiking places the responsibility on the victim, not the assailant.”
FSU’s response to the drink spiking crisis places the responsibility of safety on the potential targets as opposed to the attackers.
To insinuate that the responsibility is on the potential targets and not the attackers is an absurd stance to take and frankly, it is embarrassing. Senator Garcia, like many FSU students, reiterates that she is disappointed with the official response. “I feel, and I have felt in the past, that FSU, especially administration, has not really had much of a response… the safety department released an official email but there wasn’t really an appropriate response.”
While I am, of course, an advocate for taking responsibility for one’s own safety, I think it is frustrating to constantly be told what to wear and how to act while the people committing these crimes are rarely forced to take accountability for their actions. Garcia echoes this sentiment. “I am frustrated that the administration continues to allow this situation to happen,” she says. “It’s just hard as women, living in fear constantly but having to always adapt to that new threat of danger in a place where we’re supposed to feel safe, in a place where we’re supposed to have fun.”
The Next Steps
A commenter under FSUDSST’s Instagram post (linked above) writes, “Spiked is a much too friendly word. Students are being drugged.” This is a strong reminder that this is a delicate and critical situation and should be handled as such. Drinks are not just being “spiked;” FSU students are being deliberately and unknowingly targeted.
While Garcia clarifies that the student Senate bill doesn’t introduce any legislative change, she feels it is a necessary first step to creating real change. “In this situation and moving forward, I would like the education and the training discourse around [this] to be less about things you can do to not make yourself a target, and more about how we’re going to hold people who target you accountable,” she says.
The discourse needs to place more emphasis on the legal repercussions these criminals will face, as well as how FSUPD will be actively deterring this criminal activity as opposed to placing all responsibility on potential targets.
Dear FSU: College should be a safe place to explore interests and make memories with friends without the threat of being drugged or the crimes that can follow this illegal activity. I am interested to see what FSU’s official steps are moving forward, and I hope that this situation will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.