Drugging incidents in Grand Rapids clubs spark concern among GV community


GVL / Sydney Lim

Emma Armijo, Staff Writer

Following a Facebook post from a Grand Valley State University student claiming that three of her friends had been drugged while at a bar in downtown Grand Rapids, students and community members have been on increased alert.

The post described the women as being careful and keeping an eye on their drinks, but immediately beginning to feel side effects from the drugs and one having little to no memory of the night following their last drink.

While no formal police reports have been filed, other social media posts have circulated regarding young women and students believing something had been slipped into their drinks while at bars in the downtown area.

The social media attention has brought up a larger conversation among students and GVSU community members about young adults’ safety and the underreported crimes of “date-rape” or “club” drugs.

In the face of growing concern, officials have stressed practicing hyper-vigilance and spreading awareness for others.

According to Kent County Police Sergeant Tim Erhardt, the number of reported “roofie” and club-drug incidents is probably not reflective of the true figures due to the nature of the crime.

Erhardt said the victims can be confused, disoriented and even embarrassed about the situation, which could correlate to many cases of the incident going unreported.

“It’s much easier to roofie someone who’s drinking because people aren’t necessarily cautious with their drinks,” Erhardt said. “They might be cautious, but as they become more intoxicated, they also become more vulnerable.”

Erhardt said during his time spent in Kenowa Public Schools as a school resource officer he taught health and safety lessons to high school students for 6 years.

“When I was a school resource officer, I would tell students that when you go to some sort of large social gathering and there’s drinking, even if it’s not alcohol, even if you’re drinking water out of a solo cup, to have a drink buddy,” Erhardt said. “If you had to run off somewhere you would hand your drink to me, and that would be in my possession the entire time you were gone. That way, when you came back, you could be pretty certain that your drink didn’t get doctored because you trust me and I trust you.”

However, if one were to come back and find their drink not physically in the possession of their drink buddy, Erhardt urges them to not only pour out the drink but to immediately throw the cup away as well. This way, if the drink had been drugged, the person would not consume any of the contaminant or the residuals that could have been left on the cup.

Erhardt urged extreme caution for those who suspect their drink has been drugged, and for them to seek help immediately. Club drugs are not designed to have long-lasting effects on those who ingest them. If students suspect they have been unknowingly slipped some kind of drug, they should get checked out by a health professional, file a police report or call an emergency line if they feel they are in immediate danger.

GVSU sophomore Makenna Krylowicz says she has taken precautions to ensure her own comfort as well as her friends’ safety by purchasing lids and caps for different kinds of cups and cans.

“With women being drugged, I always make sure I have an eye on everything I intake and make sure that I have a cover over any drinks and never try to drink out of anyone else’s drink even if I know them,” Krylowicz said. “I went out and bought plastic covers to make sure the opening (of any drink) is covered no matter what, and this should be something every woman should invest in.”

Krylowicz said seeing the posts on Facebook and hearing about women being put into vulnerable situations makes her determined to always prepare for the worst.

“I always make sure that if I – or a friend – have a weird feeling, we leave automatically,” Krylowicz said. “It’s hard for women because we are easier targets compared to men, we are weaker and easily vulnerable and it’s sad that being drugged can cause life-threatening situations and make us not capable to take care of ourselves.”

Students and community members who feel they are in immediate danger or in need of medical assistance are urged to call 9-1-1 and to be mindful of their surroundings.