The importance of student safety on and off campus
Content warning: this editorial discusses instances of sexual assault.
According to the Brandeis Department of Public Safety website , when there are issues that “constitute an ongoing or continuing threat to the campus community,” a “timely warning” will be issued to ensure the safety of students. However, this board has taken note of multiple dangerous situations in Waltham and Boston that Brandeis students should be made aware of and have not been. Waltham has been advertised to touring families as a safe community and Brandeis as a safe and welcoming campus, but this remains a myth unless administration takes action towards protecting students.This board would like to warn the Brandeis community and provide tips to avoid these potentially dangerous situations.
Brandeis has routinely hidden behind the claim that the university is not affiliated with Greek life and has even advertised this on their websites, claiming that 0% of women joined sororities and 0% of men joined fraternities every year since 2016, which is untrue. Because of this, any Brandeis students assaulted or roofied by other Brandeis students off-campus have been routinely told this is somehow not a campus issue. It is extremely unsatisfactory that the University would refuse to take action against these issues and instead justify its silence with legality and liability claims.
In addition to these fraternity issues off-campus, there is currently an investigation by the Waltham police department surrounding incidents of rape and assault along the Charles Riverwalk. There have been increased reports of harassment by men on this walk within the last two months, with one report being as recent as Oct. 20 . Only 1.5 miles away and under a 20-minute walk from campus, this is a popular shortcut taken by Brandeis students. Furthermore, students have experienced threatening situations in this area of Waltham. A member of this editorial board and another Brandeis student were followed on the Charles Riverwalk in broad daylight. Another member of this editorial board was followed for multiple blocks on Prospect Street, which intersects with an entrance to the Riverwalk. In light of these experiences and the recent incidents of assault in October, it is utterly unacceptable for the University not to acknowledge or warn students about these recent events. Even if it is just in a format as simple as an email, Brandeis should help students be fully informed about potential safety risks and places and routes they may want to avoid.
The rise in spiking and assault over the past months has not been confined to the Waltham area. As of Oct. 28 , the Boston police had received 73 reports from people “who believe their drink was spiked, drugged, or in some way contaminated while out at one of the city’s restaurants or bars.” Local venues, including the MGM Music Hall at Fenway, have received similar reports and have issued warnings and safety precautions. Per the police, who issued a community alert in October , drinks were being spiked with “scentless, colorless and tasteless substances such as Rohypnol (roofie), gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and Ketamine.” Given how rapidly most of these drugs are metabolized and excreted, only a few cases can be prosecuted. Further, it may be hard to distinguish between the feeling of being drunk and the presence of a foreign substance, which makes it less likely for people to seek medical attention. This board is appalled that the University has not released any statement in regards to either the recent assault cases in Waltham or the spike in roofying in the broader Boston area.
Considering that many students attend events and go to clubs in Boston, this board would like to emphasize caution. Practice common safety precautions : watch your drinks being poured, don’t accept drinks from others, don’t leave your drink unattended, throw out your drink if it tastes strange, and avoid going out alone. Early symptoms of intoxication include heavy or paralyzed limbs, memory loss, light-headedness, nausea, and vomiting. If these symptoms are inconsistent with the amount of alcohol you have consumed, call the police and seek medical attention. For members on campus, the Brandeis Police and Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps can provide this type of assistance. Unfortunately, the Golding Health Center does not perform urinalysis testing for common drugs, per the Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center website . However, students can go to Quest Diagnostics Lab in Waltham or the Newton-Wellesley emergency room for these analyses, albeit at personal cost. PARC and the Brandeis Counseling Center can support you in navigating the emotional aftermath of these experiences.
Your safety is of the utmost importance, and this editorial board would like to recommend the University institute safety materials at the bookstore or Hoot Market for students to purchase. Products such as drink spiking tests and NightCap Scrunchie Drink Cover are inexpensive and proven successful in protecting people against roofies. In years past, the Student Union partnered with PARC to fund free SipChips, drug testing kits, through the Community Emergency and Enhancement Fund ; however, that program ended due to the company discontinuing the SipChip product. There are currently new Union plans to reintroduce a different drink tester product and make that available for Brandeis students. That being said, while students can take measures to protect themselves, these problems are the result of systemic flaws and cultural tolerance for assault and violence that go beyond the University.
And although providing self-defense options for purchase on campus can help, we also implore the University to take punitive action against the Brandeis students who perpetrate these offenses and stop using non-affiliation with Greek life as a cover for their inaction. Advocating for these resources is in no way assigning blame to survivors. We want to remind administrators and community members to validate the experiences of survivors and take tangible action to prevent these experiences from happening.
Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center:
A trained advocate is always available via the 24/7 counseling and rape crisis hotline: 781-736-3370. PARC Peer Advocates offer confidential advocacy to those impacted by many forms of violence, including domestic violence, and those supporting them, and are available Monday-Friday, noon to 5 p.m., any day class is in session via chat or text, in-person appointment or hotline. PARC also provides training for Safe(r) Party and Event Toolkit Workshop for “planning the safest events possible.” For non-emergency questions, presentation requests or appointment scheduling, you can email email@example.com.
Office of Equal Opportunity:
Students can pursue a Title IX process through the Office of Equal Opportunity.
Dean of Students Office: Students can request No Contact Orders by emailing the DOSO at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 781-736-3600.
Student Sexuality Information Services: SSIS is a student-run organization that promotes sexual health through peer counseling, outreach, products, referrals and a resource library. Their office is located on the third floor of the SCC, room 328.
Students Talking About Relationships: STAR is a completely student-run and -led support group that is trained in topics such as LGBTQIA+, sexual assault, food sensitivities, stress, as well as relationships and domestic violence. STAR offers in-person, confidential, one-on-one support in their office in the SCC, room 324, and has an anonymous and confidential text line offered during most nights of the week (see Brandeis 6TALK).
Brandeis 6TALK: Brandeis 6TALK is an anonymous peer hotline run by dedicated peer listeners. You can reach them at 781-736-TALK (781-736-8255) from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sunday through Wednesday nights.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: The Hotline provides 24/7 support via their hotline (1-800-799-7233) and resources for prevention, crisis intervention and safety planning.
REACH: REACH provides emergency shelter, education and prevention programming and a 24/7 confidential hotline. https://reachma.org/get-support/direct-services/
Brandeis Department of Public Safety: In case of emergency, students may choose to contact Public Safety at 781-736-3333.