EDITORIAL: Commending University’s SipChip intiative
On March 4, the Student Union and the Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center will launch their new SipChip initiative. SipChips are drink-testing devices which, upon contact with a cold drink, will indicate whether it has been tainted with any common “date-rape” drugs. SipChips will be available in numerous locations around campus, and this test run will help determine future supplies. This board applauds the SipChip initiative and sees it as a positive step forward in sexual violence prevention.
SipChips are a measure designed to allow potential victims to save themselves from danger, and the leaders bringing this initiative to campus see this project as working to change campus culture so that people know sexual assault will not be tolerated. This board commends the way that PARC and the student leaders involved have framed SipChips as working to change campus culture surrounding sexual assault. We hope the campus will keep this sentiment in mind and avoid victim-blaming that would result from putting responsibility solely on SipChip-users to protect themselves. SipChips should be implemented as a University norm alongside other sexual violence prevention measures to shift the responsibility away from potential victims. This could mean incorporating SipChips into the Department of Community Living’s event registration process and making them available for people hosting parties off-campus. Event organizers should be able to pick up a supply of SipChips from their Quad Office, have them available throughout the party and be required to return extras the next day.
In a March 2 email to the Justice, Ricki Levitus ’20, one of the students leading the SipChip initiative, explained that many campus organizations, including all 10 Greek Life organizations, will receive educational presentations about “what Sip Chip is, how to use them, why they are important on both a national and campus scale, and where Sip Chips will be available on campus.” This board commends these efforts to educate campus about the initiative. We hope that these training sessions will also include information about how to use the Chips within specific situations, such as how to test a drink subtly to avoid detection, how to escape a situation if a drink is drugged and how to inform an authority figure of the danger. Moreover, this board hopes that the University is thinking about more ways to implement prevention education and create a culture where sexual violence risk is mitigated as much as possible.
This board beseeches the University to continue the initiative permanently. Currently, SipChips are being implemented experimentally using CEEF. This board hopes that the University continues to supply SipChips, funding it as needed based on initial popularity. Community Emergency and Enhancement Fund funding is one way to do this, but more sustainable methods might include allocating money from the Student Activities Fund or creating a joint spending plan between different University parties. Regardless of how it is funded, this board hopes that the University will continue to respond to student voices around SipChips and other sexual violence prevention initiatives. We applaud this program and hope to see its expansion in the future.
In order to create a culture of protection and prevention, we also encourage students to pick up a SipChip at the PARC office, Union office, Student Sexuality Information Service office, Health Center, the Stein, the C-Store, Gender and Sexuality Center, InterCultural Center, Gosman, all DCL Quad Offices and at Greek Awareness Council events.