The University Record, November 19, 1997

DPS warns against 'roofies'

By Beth Hall
Department of Public Safety

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) recommends exercising caution in social settings because of the illegal drug rohypnol, more commonly known as "roofies," "ruffies," "R-2," "rib" and "rope."

This intense sedative drug is becoming a problem on many college campuses, and there have been reports nationwide of individuals who have been sexually assaulted and are unable to remember the details of the assault.

"DPS has not received any reports of rohypnol use, but we believe it could be on campus and we always encourage people to be aware of potential danger," says Capt. James Smiley. "We know from sexual assault offenses on other college campuses the effects of rohypnol are very serious."

Rohypnol is a very potent tranquilizer that is similar to Valium, but significantly stronger. It dissolves quickly in liquid; within 20-30 minutes of being ingested, the drug can produce sedative effects, such as amnesia, muscle relaxation, slowing of psychomotor responses, slurred speech and bloodshot eyes.

Resulting from an alarming rise in the use of rohypnol across the country, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno launched a national campaign this fall in an effort to warn college students about the dangers of this so-called "date rape drug." Posters, bookmarks and fliers are being distributed on college campuses in response to Reno's campaign and the efforts of individual public safety and sexual assault prevention programs.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) has taken proactive steps on campus by incorporating information and precautionary steps in its training and seminars and providing support for survivors of rape.

Sarah Heuser, SAPAC training and education coordinator, offers the following safety tips:

  • Try to go to a party or event with a friend; be accountable to each other.

  • Accept only closed-container drinks; recognize rohypnol can be used in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

  • Stand with your hand over your beverage when not drinking.

  • Never leave an opened drink with anyone, not even with friends.

  • If you do put down your drink and leave for any amount of time, do not finish it.

    "If you believe someone used rohypnol to assault you or someone you care about, call our office," Heuser says. "We can provide confidential support and/or information about your options."

    If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available by calling SAPAC's crisis line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 936-3333.

    For more information on rohypnol or to report suspected use of the drug, call DPS, 763-1131. In an emergency, dial 911.