Pomona Students: Campus Safety Tips Are ‘Rape Culture’

On Monday evening, the Claremont University Consortium Campus Safety Office sent out a message warning Claremont students about a potential rash of Xanax and other drug-laced drinks at recent CMC parties.

“Over the past two weeks, the Dean of Students Office of Claremont McKenna College (CMC) has received information that three on-campus parties may have involved students providing Xanax-laced or Rohypnol-laced drinks. While this information is unconfirmed, the allegations alone are serious enough that I wanted to alert our students of what CMC has heard.  We will continue to investigate these allegations, as such behavior is highly concerning to all of us, dangerous to those who consume the drinks, violates the Student Code of Conduct, and cannot and will not be tolerated.”

Claremont McKenna College, among other colleges, has enacted policies restricting unabridged alcohol usage on campus. Such policies have been geared at breaking up large unregistered parties due to safety concerns. CMC has also promoted its “Teal Dot Training Program”, a program that coaches would-be bystanders to intervene in dangerous scenarios and has held forums related to Title IX policy and the responsible use of alcohol on campus. Thomas Schalke (CMC ‘18), a student on the Personal and Social Responsibility Committee for Campus Climate tells the Claremont Independent “In concert with a wide range of other solutions, the college is committed to expanding access to preventative programs such as Teal Dot and more fully integrating them into the student experience.” As awareness of sexual assault on campuses across the country grows, CMC is looking to make such training a key part of its student experience.

The email continues:

“These allegations are a reminder to be mindful at all times of what you are drinking and to keep an eye out for your fellow students.  While this is a small campus and we would like to trust our fellow students, accepting a drink that was made by someone else or that was put in a cup that you did not bring yourself is risky.  If you do not maintain constant visual contact with your cup, something can be slipped in it quickly and without your knowledge even if the drink started out fine.  Being vigilant about the source of your drink as well as the integrity of your cup once it is in your possession decreases the risks of anything being slipped in your drink.  Please help us keep our campuses safer.”

Some students were concerned that the email was an example of “victim-blaming” and “rape culture.”

“This is a message from campus safety in response to multiple students being drugged on Claremont McKenna’s campus. This is disgusting. This is unacceptable. This is rape culture,” wrote one student in a widely-shared Facebook post. “This is textbook victim-blaming, and it is coming right from the people who are hired to protect us.”

Others students argued that while the acts were obviously “deplorable”, the email still served a practical purpose. Another student from Pomona College responded, I agree that it’s frustrating to be told that the responsibility to be safe falls on potential victims but a) when thinking practically about how to deal with the reality of an unsafe campus, I do appreciate these reminders and b) I think that camp sec individuals would probably agree with the sentiment that people should not do things like drug other people’s drinks (and to be sure, the email did include – begin with – a paragraph about how such behavior was deplorable and not to be tolerated).”

While the subject of drugs on campus presented itself at last night’s ASCMC Senate meeting, few had answers. One student noted, “For most of the student body, this incident is the first encounter with reports on roofie-type drugs anywhere on the Claremont Colleges, so information is sparse.” At the time of writing, no further notices from Campus Safety or Claremont Colleges Administrations have been communicated.

10 thoughts on “Pomona Students: Campus Safety Tips Are ‘Rape Culture’”

  1. Interesting article. This seems to show how little students are currently being taught about the line between what is “Victim blaming,” (Which, as I see it, is taking blame off of the aggressor and onto the injured,) and basic safety precautions. The email is saying that, “This is a problem, and to avoid it, here’s the steps to take.” Ignoring the safety part to attack the fact that this puts a small bit of responsibility on the injured is foolish, at best.

    Bottom line: People who spike drinks are going to spike drinks. You have the ability to take steps to avoid the horrifying situation that could follow. It’s up to you if you want to ignore that. But attacking someone for trying to inform you on how to avoid it?

    Unbelievably foolish on any level.

    Good read, good balance of ideas.

    1. I think we have to pay really close attention to the last line of the email. It ended “please keep our campuses safer” after giving various safety tips.

      Safety tips are GOOD. No doubt about that. But the campus is not “safer” when you avoid a drugged drink, just as a gunfight is not a “safer” place to be simply because you avoided being shot. Someone is still *trying* to drug people, and the fact that they are on our campus means that people are in danger. Even if we could test every drink and avoid this problem, the fact that people this ****** up actually live here puts others at risk. They have a lot more tools at their disposal to make others’ lives **** if their willing to go as far as drugging other students.

      All that’s to say, we are not actually capable of making the campus meaningfully safer in this instance. Yeah, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on one’s drink, just as it’s a good idea, depending on where you live, to carry a whistle. But the fact that the place you live in is such that it would be a good idea to carry a rape whistle means that you ultimately cannot be safe there in the first place. So to imply that we have the power to make this a safe place is to shrug off a serious issue as something that rests on the students, rather than something that rests on the institution.

      1. I hear a lot of emotions but no reason.
        I have news for you my child, there aren’t ANY completely safe places, or people. That’s where critical thinking and judging people by character rather than reflexes based on racial/sexual/political identity.
        But wait, there’s more!
        Colleges in general are SAFER for young women than the surrounding real world. On top of that Claremont is extremely peaceful for any college town. If you think the 5C has a rape culture you are in for a big shock after graduation.

  2. Though engaging at all with the Claremont Independent physically pains me, I thought I’d share with the unfortunate readers of this empty non-article with a variation of my response to the ONE student who shared a dissenting opinion to my post, which happened to reach thousands of people:

    The first paragraph of the email was by no means “a paragraph about how such behavior was deplorable and not to be tolerated”. It is instead a straight-forward account of the allegations, an invalidation of these allegations (“While this information is unconfirmed”…who do you expect to confirm it? the people who did the drugging?), a vague and underwhelming apology using the word “concerning” though this situation is far more than simply concerning to the victims of these crimes as well as all party-goers, the word “dangerous”, implying that the people doing this are possibly unaware of how it’s affecting those that they’re drugging, and then it ends with a lie, because it IS being tolerated. Clearly. We as a community are allowing these assaults to continue while HOPING and depending on potential victims to catch individual assailants, and accepting the larger issue as “a fact of life”. (Which is, again, the definitions of victim blaming AND rape culture)

    Author Emilie Buchwald explains rape culture in depth in her book, Transforming a Rape Culture, but here’s an easy to understand definition that’s hopefully accessible to even the Jacob Johnsons of the world: “A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However, much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change. ”

    If we can boost messages of DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE, Don’t Cheat, Don’t Steal, and the like, then I think we can say what you might consider as obvious: Don’t drug people. Don’t rape people. Because, honestly, I didn’t learn anything from those “safety tips”, and I doubt most women, who have been fed these safety tips since we’ve been sexualized (at age, like, six) learned anything either. You know what messages or tips are extremely rarely fed to men, ever? Don’t drug people. Don’t rape people.

    These people who are committing these heinous offenses are not these shady gloved men with dramatic easily-spotted vials that you’ve depicted in the photo above, dude! They’re in our classes, our dorms, our dining halls. They’re our friends. They were accepted into our prestigious institutions, and also need to be told EXPLICITLY that they can just as easily be expelled. (Or probably not, AKA the whole issue here)

    It’s the sentiments and the deeper meaning behind the concluding message campus safety chose to leave our student body with after sharing the impossible-to-carry-out safety tips: “Please help us keep our campuses safer” that speaks to who is expected to change their behavior here. In this case, it’s the drunken girl who “should’ve” been paying more attention. That advice is basically saying “make sure YOU’RE not the target, and that they drug that drunker girl instead.” This doesn’t help keep our campuses safer. This might help keep one girl safer, if the safety tips were even a conceivably possible option. Any one who’s been to one of our parties can tell that keeping a constant eye on your drink, not accepting drinks from your friends, or somehow checking the “integrity” of your cup throughout the night is impossible. Especially for anyone who has been engaging in substance use. So yeah, dude. The blame has been shifted to the victims, hence “victim blaming” and the acceptance of, and refusal to engage in a conversation about combatting the attitudes of men on our campuses that lead to, these crimes, is rape culture.

    But please, don’t take it from me: a survivor of sexual assault, Advocate for survivors of assault, women’s union staff member, actual listener of people who experience this, and, ultimately, a womyn.
    I’m sure you’re far more knowledgable about what rape culture and victim-blaming REALLY mean, Daniel.

    Also just ew at this whole website.

    1. How do you propose the University prevent this? Paid party monitors? Police searches at the door?

      It is madness to NOT warn people there are predators drugging people at parties.

  3. This is victim blaming–

    ‘Did you see that dress? They were asking for it.’

    This is a public safety warning–

    ‘It has been reported that vehicle vandaizations have increased on two popular streets. Police presence has been increased, but for the time being, please be wary of parking in those areas.’

    See the difference?

    Victim blaming–‘he shouldn’t have flashed all that cash.’
    Public safety–‘avoid dark alleys’

    Are we getting it? Good–now for the hard one.

    Victim blaming–‘she was all over him’
    Public safety–‘there are reports of drink tampering–be wary’

  4. Has the student body completely abandoned critical thinking?
    The information that all of this hysteria is based on amounts to a rumour that someone was ‘providing’ drug laced drinks at three parties.
    No mention of un-willing consumption, drugging, rapes or even suspicions of any of the above.
    Because of the rumour/allegation which has no evidence the admin gave a head’s up because such things CAN happen, humans being the imperfect critters that we are.
    From that point, in an Olympic record-breaking flat-footed, standing panty-twist various PC Nazis are using it as a platform for airing the inadequacies of modern psychiatric therapy, their own.

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