I haven’t written about what’s been going on at UO, partly because I’m too close to it, partly because I’m still thinking things through. Long story short, a group of feminist faculty have been meeting on and off for over five months — prior to that groups of us as well as individuals had been expressing concerns about campus climate for at least three years. But then a gang rape was reported here in the beginning of May and between the media attention and the dismal, arrogant response from UO administrators, it’s been a very disheartening and heartbreaking month.
Before all this happened, though, I was corresponding with some folks about the availability of and prevalence of rape drugs on campus. Being empirically minded, I don’t know if it’s true that there have been dramatic increases in the use of these drugs. There’s also a danger in overlooking the ways in which alcohol is used to render potential victims compliant (think those nasty punches served at parties that those throwing the party don’t drink — those punches are intended for inexperienced drinkers, mostly young women, and there’s nothing hospitable about providing those beverages). And then there’s also the problem of suggesting that women who are not drugged are somehow less worth victims than those who were drugged. After all, sexual assault can’t be “a problem in communication” if one person isn’t conscious.
So those are important caveats. But having said that, why aren’t universities encouraging survivors to test their hair if they believe they were drugged? Hair tests don’t test for marijuana, but they do test for illicit drugs (including those considered “rape drugs”). Plus, they aren’t invasive and you can test for up to six months after the assault, providing hair hasn’t been cut. Check out this interesting thesis about hair testing for illicit drugs: http://www.usna.edu/IR/htmls/lead/database/cohort6/c06_hatala.pdf. And ask your campus police department if they use these in their investigations. See also this bibliography, which was provided to me by an attorney who works extensively with survivors of sexual violence: http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/journal/mcbaybib3.pdf.