News

Year End Tragedies-The Date Rape Drug Incident

After a party at a prominent night club in downtown Boston, a Harvard Business School student was brought to a local hospital where she discovered a high amount of gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid in her blood. Commonly referred to as GHB, the substance is a known date rape drug.

The female student politely declined to be interviewed, but consented to let other people close to the matter speak about the details of the incident. Michael Farias, an RC Leadership & Values Representative who spoke on behalf of the parties involved, confirmed that the student is safe and that no harm occurred.

Approximately two weeks before the annual Harvard-Yale game on November 22, flyers were distributed to HBS students promoting a pre-game party at The Roxy, a nightclub in downtown Boston. The flyer urged students to sign-up for the guest list at www.hyattheroxy.com. A substantial group of HBS students attended the party, which occurred on the Friday before the game.

A group of four female RC students in the party went to a small bar where they were given shots by the bartender. Farias further recounted the series of events. “None of the girls had consumed a significant amount of alcohol, nor did they leave drinks unattended or accept drinks from strangers. Irrespective of who was responsible, this terrible event resulted in the girls appearing to become severely intoxicated.”

Later on, concerned section mates brought the group home. However, one of the affected students was taken to the hospital when her roommate noticed that she was paler than usual.

When she woke up in the hospital in the next morning, she was told that although the alcohol content in her blood was not unusually high, her blood showed the presence of GHB.

A Wikipedia search indicates that GHB is a regulated substance with a history of being used as a date rape drug. Date rape drugs do not have a strict scientific or legal definition, as a wide variety of substances can be used to incapacitate a person for the purposes of sexual assault. The drugs commonly have sedative, hypnotic, or amnesiac effects, and render a victim incapable of resisting sexual advances. According to a US Drug Enforcement Agency report, someone who has taken GHB will not be aware that they ingested the drug at all. “GHB and its analogues are invisible when dissolved in water, and are odorless. They are somewhat salty tasting, but are indiscernible when dissolved in beverages such as sodas, liquor, or beer. Due to memory problems induced by these drugs, the victim may not be aware of the attack until 8-12 hours after it occurred,” the report continues. It is also very hard to prove physical presence of the drug sometime after its ingestion, as it is quickly metabolized by the body. Memory impairment caused by the drugs also eliminates evidence about any potential attack.

The three other students in the aforementioned group suspected that they were also affected by the drug since the group consumed shots from the same shaker. “You just go downward on a very steep slope; the effects are indistinguishable from the effects of alcohol,” attested one member of the group.

Farias emphasized that everyone went home safe and sound, as they were accompanied by section mates the whole time. The hospitalized student was discharged the following morning and has since fully recovered. “It was impossible for anyone from the group to realize that this behavior was a result of drugging rather than severe intoxication, but thankfully our section mates were truly terrific and helped to take care of the girls and make sure they made it home safely,” says Farias.

Farias is now working with various section leaders and members of the HBS administration to formulate a response the incident, which involves circulating community advisory warnings and sending a formal letter to The Roxy’s management.

The Roxy has been previously accused of condoning the use of designer drugs, such as Ecstasy and GHB, in the past, as indicated in a Boston Globe news report published way back in March, 2000.

Last week, a group of RC section presidents met to discuss the issue. “I think the important thing to do here is to first make sure people understand the facts. It is definitely a sensitive and traumatic experience, so we need to make sure there are no false rumors going around,” commented Stella Treas, Section B president. “It also reinforces that we all have to look out for each other. The group partied responsibly, but it was still the presence of section mates that prevented worse things from happening,” Treas added.

To get involved, please contact Michael Farias at mfarias@mba2010.hbs.edu

December 8, 2008
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