Hanna Lottritz, 21-year-old student at the University of Nevada, recently made headlines for sharing her story of alcohol poisoning. Lottritz nearly died while binge drinking with friends and wanted to keep others from making the same mistakes.
Her post on her blog titled “Drinking Responsibly” has been viewed over 300,000 times, according to the Buzzfeed article “This college student’s horrifying photo shows why you should be wary of taking shots.”
Lottritz’s piece provides a personal informative account for those who worry about 21-year-olds going overboard on their first night out and advice for those who are soon to be legal.
Lottritz is not the only student who has experienced alcohol poisoning. An anonymous K-State student, Jane Doe, said she also had a terrifying experience with someone spiking her drinks.
It was Saturday night in early fall, and Doe had planned a night with her friends. Doe said the night was supposed to be fun, but it nearly ended in her death.
Doe said she was no stranger to the stories of spiked drinks and assaults as a result of what occurred at college parties. She said she knew what to do and went to the party with friends who would look after her and keep her safe.
“I watched (my friend) pour drinks into the cup, from bottle into my cup, so I thought it would be totally fine,” Doe said.
Within hours, she said she was unconscious and rushed to the hospital by a friend because her punch had been spiked with Everclear.
While Kansas law prohibits “the furnishing of alcoholic liquor or cereal malt beverages to any person under the legal age for consumption of such beverages” and “for anyone to allow unlawful consumption of alcoholic liquor or cereal malt beverages on their property over which they have control,” there is no specific mention of beverages that have been spiked and given to unaware individuals.
The entire policy can be found on the “Alcohol Cereal Malt Beverage” listing on the “Policies” page of the K-State website.
In the “.060 Summary of Pertinent Laws” section of the page, it states that violations are punishable as misdemeanors. Depending on the particular violation, punishments include substantial fines, performance of public service, jail sentences and suspension, restriction or revocation of drivers’ licenses.
Still, despite the law being on Doe’s side, taking action proved to be difficult.
Doe said K-State authorities told her there was very little remedy. Since the incident had occurred at a fraternity, she could submit a report to the K-State Office of Greek Affairs, but because there were no drugs involved, the university would not be able to take any further action.
Off-campus housing, particularly greek housing, tends to get lost in the definition of what constitutes university affiliation, Jenna Tripodi, coordinator and advocate-educator for the K-State Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, said.
“That’s where the university sees their scope of control: on the physical property of the campus or an event that is hosted by the university,” Tripodi said. “It’s kind of complicated since we think of fraternities and sororities as being affiliated with the university, which they are, but there’s kind of that bridge: university, Greek Affairs, and fraternities and sororities.”
Reports of similar incidents like Doe’s at a particular fraternity or sorority can establish a pattern that would lead the university to speak with Greek Affairs, which Tripodi said she sees as quite a few hoops to jump through.
“We (the CARE office) feel like that isn’t best serving students, protecting students, so we’re working to get (greek life) included under the policy so someone could report that to the university specifically,” Tripodi said.
Aja Frost, writer for USA Today, cited incidents similar to Doe’s in her article “The time has come to end frats.”
“It’s been time to ban frats for a long time,” Frost said in her article.
Tripodi, however, said she sees this as a “shortsighted response.”
“The problem is not greek life,” Tripodi said. “The problem is individuals who decide to perpetrate sexual assault and the cultural norms that allow perpetrators to fly under the radar. Greek life is a microcosm of larger society, so what we see occurring within greek life is a snapshot of problematic norms, beliefs and actions within our larger culture.”
Grace Works, senior in sociology and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said she believes banning greek life could be an overreaction.
“I think banning greek life is extreme,” Works said. “It’s almost like one person from a group does something and the rest of the group is held responsible. My experience with greek life has been very positive, and I think others who have been in fraternities and sororities have had positive interactions as well.”
In regards to the current policy, Jessica Haymaker, coordinator and advocate-educator for CARE, said she supports students who explore their options.
“I would just encourage all students to understand the policy that governs them and they have the ability to influence that policy,” Haymaker said. “If you feel like you’re not being protected, you have a right to voice that.”
When the party takes place off-campus and away from greek housing, students still have options. Tripodi said she recommends reporting to law enforcement, and enough reports “can help establish pattern behavior.”
For students who have experienced sexual assault after being unknowingly given spiked drinks, Haymaker said she wants those students to know they have options.
“Our first recommendation is always to make sure that you’re physically safe,” Haymaker said. “I think that also means health-wise. We’re not recommending that everyone go to the hospital. If that’s scary to you, that’s okay.”
Haymaker said there is a process for students who decide to go to a hospital.
“If an assault did occur, you can go to the hospital and get a sexual assault forensic exam, and you do not have to report to anyone,” Haymaker said. “So the hospital will know what happened, and they will collect evidence. And then they will send evidence anonymously to the (Kansas Bureau of Investigation), and then you will have five years to decide. That’s an option a lot of people don’t know about.”
According its website, the CARE office is also an anonymous, safe place. Tripodi said the Crisis Center in Manhattan has after-hour victim advocacy as well.
Both Tripodi and Haymaker said they are quick to caution victim blaming and attitudes such as thinking the victim should have known the drinks were spiked. Haymaker said these situations are comparable to going to a bar.
When someone goes to a bar and orders a gin and tonic, they are expecting a gin and tonic, not something that’s been spiked with Everclear. Haymaker said it is not unreasonable for students to have those same expectations going into parties off-campus.
Works said victim blaming is a double-edged sword.
“First of all, I think it’s unfair to victim blame in the first place,” Works said. “Second of all, it’s also stereotyping that all sororities and fraternities are dangerous places or places where you need to be fearful of those things. I don’t think victim blaming is ever the answer.”
Doe said she is too frightened to attend off-campus parties now. Additionally, she said her hospital bill totaled over $1,000, with the university offering no financial support. Doe, a first-generation college student, said she has little financial recourse to pay for her hospitalization.
“To be honest, I wish they would’ve offered to help me financially because now I have this huge hospital bill,” Doe said.