Students for Sensible Drug Policy Host Launch Event for NightCaps

Photo Credit: Hannah Turner ’24

On February 6, 2023, the Yale chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) hosted an official launch event to introduce NightCaps to the Yale community. Originally developed in 2019, NightCaps are reusable cup lids that can be used to prevent drink spiking.

SSDP President Amanda Ivatorov ’23+1 explained the necessity of a product that directly protects students from drink spiking, referencing a prior experience where several people she knew had their drinks spiked at an off-campus fraternity party. “All of the ‘correct’ measures were taken,” Amanda explained. “There was a bouncer checking Yale IDs for admission and multiple employed bartenders—and yet, drink spiking was still an occurrence at the event.” To Amanda, clearly more needed to be done to keep the Yale community safe.

However, the impacts of NightCaps have yet to be examined large-scale in a campus environment. Therefore, SSDP aims to investigate its impacts with a pilot project, distributing NightCaps to 300 Yale students to gauge student reactions. Through strategic planning, SSDP was able to secure enough funding for 300 NightCaps, customized with the Yale-SSDP logo, to be distributed to students, as well as fund incentives for students to provide feedback about the product. To gather information regarding the impact of NightCaps on Yale’s campus environment, Amanda molded this initiative into a pre-/post-intervention survey project, guided by Dr. Tamar Taddei of Yale’s School of Medicine and Dr. Lynn Fiellin, former director of Yale’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Harm Reduction Initiative. Over the course of February, SSDP hopes to give out 300 NightCaps, and in three months will follow up with a survey to examine student experiences with NightCaps.

The February 6 launch event sold out within five days, leading to the addition of a second room and more available spots. The event saw 89 students complete the survey and receive a free NightCap and metal straw. Additionally, they were able to enjoy the event’s open non-alcoholic bar, take photos at the photobooth, and mingle with Yale Mascot Handsome Dan and Service Dog Heidi. Amanda highlighted the SSDP team who helped execute this event, expressing that she is “grateful to each of [the] SSDP@Yale members and board members, and for the opportunity to work alongside each of them.” In particular, Amanda noted Vice President Sita Kottilil ’25, Secretary and Communications Director Shakina Williams ’25, and former Treasurer Kyle Williams ’25 (Former SSDP@Yale Treasurer), as well as Breanna Brownson ’25, Molly McLaughlin ’22, ’23 M.P.H., Emi Glass ’26, and Kevin Guillen ’26, who “were extremely instrumental with the setup and execution of our event.”

Amanda also expressed thanks to Dwight Hall’s Director of Programming and Evaluation Mark Fopeano and Director of Community Outreach and Engagement Johnny Scafidi ’01, both of whom have been involved in the development of this project since Spring 2022 and have “been extremely supportive in helping to shape the goals of the project, find avenues for funding, garner student support, and more.”

Johnny praised Amanda and SSDP leadership’s ability to utilize a “readily available resource [NightCaps] and complement its distribution with education to promote safety and influence positive change.”

Among those in attendance at the launch event were Josephine Cureton ’24, the New Membership Coordinator for Dwight Hall’s Executive Committee (ExComm). “SSDP leadership did a great job organizing,” Josephine said, “and we are excited to see the results of their study on the effectiveness of Nightcaps and other drink-spiking preventative measures.”

ExComm Membership Coordinator Rena Liu ’26 also attended and enjoyed the launch event. “I especially admired how SSDP worked to make the event not only informative, but also welcoming and fun; the distribution of free NightCaps especially ties together education and action, which is exactly the kind of service that Dwight Hall seeks to foster!”

While an important first step, Amanda emphasizes that this pilot program would hopefully be only the beginning of SSDP’s advocacy for the implementation of NightCaps into the Yale community. “Our ultimate goal is for Yale to provide every undergraduate student on campus with their own NightCap, making it as accessible as condoms and COVID-19 masks,” Amanda explained. “There is a clear want and need for this type of technology within Yale’s undergraduate community. SSDP@Yale strives to fill this gap.”

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