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Finally–A Tool to Eliminate Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Are social norms an influencing factor driving vulnerability in regards to sexual assault?  Do appeals to pathos establish a sort of pluralistic ignorance among individuals?

During my freshman year at Baylor in the fall of 2014, I started learning about some of the horrible effects of sexual assault that has become such a hot topic in today’s society. One of my first assignments in a business class during my first freshman semester was to “find a need on campus that can be solved through entrepreneurship.” That night, when working at my on-campus job at the 2200-seat Waco Hall, a women’s sexual assault awareness workshop turned a gear in my head, and an idea was born.  I listened to gut-wrenching, heartfelt stories of former and current female students who had been sexually assaulted Some victims were drugged while drinking and then sexually assaulted while at their most vulnerable state.  I decided to poll some of my friends, coworkers, and students alike across campus, looking for the easiest and most discreet way for an individual to test a drink before having a sip.  These sad and staggering statistics led me to a vision that would ultimately provide a safer drinking experience for everyone when socializing with friends in public or going to bars, restaurants, and clubs without risk of the unthinkable happening.

The problem that I’ve been trying to solve since my freshman year is Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault. When young adults go out at night, there is an inherent social norm that the common thing to do is drink alcohol. According to statistics recorded by RAINN, which is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, approximately 293,000 Americans become victims of sexual assault. The problem occurs when we are uncertain of our surroundings.

This is when we are most vulnerable as it pertains to social proofs. The heightened uncertainty of DFSA can lead many young adults to pluralistic ignorance and we fail to realize that. Of all sexual assault cases, an estimated 35.4% are victims of DFSA, or Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault, which is approximately 104,000 individuals per year.  Ultimately, the idea to protect women and men from drink spiking is an appeal to pathos and looks to not instill but eliminate fear from these people.

Overall, after telling my story and showing the statistics to fellow students and Greek Life friends, and relating to them the social norms and how uncertainty leads to pluralistic ignorance, a common denominator surfaced.  Many young ladies that I polled mentioned they are constantly in fear of being drugged and in certain moments feel helpless. This tidbit of information was the inspiration behind my idea of concealing the new and advanced date rape drug detection technology onto a business card.

This product has been garnering an enthusiastic response from students, faculty, and law enforcement across college campuses. In the end, it is important to realize that if we are going to allow ourselves to be influenced by social norms or even freely choose to not take precautions against DFSA, we must have a safety net in place. Like Perloff’s contemporary ideology, persuasion is complex and I hope that this product can use pathos to make a difference on college campuses and protect both women and men from sexual assault.