Students for Reproductive Freedom will be purchasing NightCap Drink Cover Scrunchies that can be purchased from a vending machine in the basement of the George Sherman Union, after BU Student Government’s approved their funding request.
SRF already has an emergency contraceptive vending machine in the GSU.
Laurel Murphy, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and SRF treasurer, said the product is designed to conveniently prevent drink spiking. The scrunchie is reusable, washable and expands into a drink cover.
“I hope that they will help to prevent sexual assault at BU,” Murphy said. “Our club is trying to provide the community with resources to prevent sexual assault or anything that could result from drink spiking.”
Reported drink spiking and sexual assault have been on the rise at Boston University in recent years, according to Hannah Landsberg, associate director of Student Health Services.
“At Student Health Services, we are aware of increased reports of drink spiking incidents among BU students,” Landsberg wrote in an email. “We have seen an increase in students reporting sexual assault since 2020, however, these incidents have not been linked to drink spiking.”
Temporary loss of control or motor skills, heavy limbs, memory loss, numbness and vomiting are symptoms of drink spiking, according to Landsberg. The Boston Police Department and SHS find most cases occur in bars, clubs and concert venues, predominantly off campus.
“Drink covers are one type of risk reduction tool,” Landsberg said. “It is important to use the tool along with others, such as ensuring your drink was safely made and watching out for others.”
Cassidy Chen, a freshman in the College of Communication, said she thinks this is a valuable investment, but BU should do more to prevent drink spiking from happening in the first place, specifically advocating for increased oversight of BU’s fraternities.
“I feel like you should be invested in preventing fraternities from spiking,” Chen said. “I feel like a lot of BU fraternities are disaffiliated from the school and that’s not enough because they still continue to have a lot of spiking incidents and BU people still go to those.”
Landsberg wrote all discussion of prevention of sexual violence needs to be prefaced with the fact that someone who is experiencing sexual violence is never at fault.
“This is important to emphasize, as discussion of risk reduction can lead victims to feel blamed for their experience rather than the person at fault — the perpetrator,” Landsberg wrote.
Lola Duek, a freshman in COM, said she feels most at risk for drink spiking at fraternities, where she feels safe “only sometimes.”
“I believe that they would be practical in a sense if used correctly,” Duek said.
Murphy said she does not think NightCap scrunchies will address the root problems of sexual assault and that it requires a more “comprehensive” solution.
SRF will work with BU vending to place a bulk order of the scrunchies and install the new machine at the end of this semester or beginning of the Spring semester.