Fix Features

University of Virginia

If Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z and Madonna sing its praises – how bad can it really be, right? “It” is the designer drug “Molly” – also known as ecstasy – that’s recently resurged in popularity among the college and club party scene.

But if you ask 20-year-old Olivia Rotondo, 19-year-old Mary “Shelley” Goldsmith, or 19-year-old Brittany Flannigan what they think of the drug – their answer will be … well, they can’t answer.

All three college students died of an overdose of the drug in the last month.

Flannigan, a Plymouth State University student, was recalled by her loved ones as bright, gifted and hard-working. University of Virginia student Goldsmith was described by her father as an admired high-achiever, “our shooting star.” Rotondo, a junior at the University of New Hampshire, was self-confident with a sarcastic sense of humor, her friends said.

Their young lives were cut short by Molly, authorities say. Molly has a surprisingly more acceptable reputation than ecstasy because it’s billed as “pure” MDMA, even though most of what’s sold as “Molly” nowadays is not.

In response to Goldsmith’s death, the University of Virginia released this week an informational video to students and parents in which a physician explains the drug is cut with other dangerous substances. He said tests on Molly have borne that out.

“It’s an amphetamine-derived drug, it’s a stimulant, it’s a hallucinogen,” Dr. Chris Holstege, University of Virginia’s executive director of student health, said in the video. “They have smiley faces on it, other emblems on it. They’re colorful. You think these would be safe, when in fact we know from a medical standpoint … they are not safe.”

Everything from bath salts to baby powder can be added to batches of Molly.

Erin Mulvey, a spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, told ABC news “there is no good batch of Molly.”

“These deaths unfortunately show the end result of what can happen when someone takes what they think is Molly,” she said of the college students’ deaths.

Molly typically increases feelings of euphoria in users. The drug prompts the brain to increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, chemicals that cause a person to feel happy. Anxiety is lessened in users because the amygdala is affected. Oxytocin levels are heightened, and this chemical increases feelings of bonding. 

This combination of increased happiness and sense of trust and decreased anxiety is what makes the drug so popular in clubs. Molly is commonly associated with electronic dance music played at raves, as users claim the drug enhances their experience when listening to music.

With most of the users of Molly being between 16 and 24, college students are coming into contact with the drug more and more. As schools across America relaunch for the fall semester, administrators are quick to warn students about the danger.

Most recently the drug has gained major media attention after the Electric Zoo music festival in Randalls Island, N.Y., earlier this month, which had its third day cancelled due to drug overdoes that led to two deaths later ruled related to chemicals commonly found in MDMA. Rotondo was one of the two.

Friends of Rotondo told the Boston Globe that Molly was not a regular occurrence for their social scene. They said she was responsible when she went out clubbing, but it doesn’t take much of the drug to cause an overdose. Goldsmith had overdosed on Molly at a Washington D.C. nightclub in early September, right around the time of the Electric Zoo festival.

Authorities are investigating the possibility that the drug that killed Goldsmith came from the same batch of MDMA that has killed other college students in the Northeast.

Many claim the drug as non-addictive, making it safer, but the truth is it can still be addictive like any other drug. The Drug Enforcement Agency lists Molly as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential of abuse and has no medical use. In other words, it’s illegal.

The effects of using Molly vary. Users can experience increased heartbeat, faintness, chills, nausea, blurred vision and body tremors, according to abovetheinfluence.com.

The pharmaceutical company Mereck first patented MDMA in 1914, but it became well known as a drug prescribed by psychotherapists to get their patents to open up in the 1970s. The drug, then known as ecstasy, made its way into the nightclub scene in the 1980s and 1990s.

When it gained popularity in pop culture, additives in the drug like caffeine, aspirin, speed and ketamine diminished the drug’s popularity, but the drug’s most recent reputation as pure has fueled its comeback.

Molly is even becoming a popular reference among celebrities.

Jay-Z gave the drug a shoutout in his song “Empire State of Mind” with the lyrics, “MDMA got you feeling like a champion.” Madonna asked her fans at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami if anybody had seen Molly, but then later stated she was actually referring to a friend’s song about a real person named Molly. Miley Cyrus has become the latest celebrity to be questioned about the drug reference. In her song “We Can’t Stop” she sings what sounds like, “we like to party, dancing with Molly,” but her publicist was quick to tell the press it’s actually “dancing with Miley.”

But it’s not a joke.

The Wall Street Journal reports that on Sunday. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) called on law-enforcement agencies to bring “a new focus onto Molly labs.”

Margaret Rybarczyk, whose 20-year-old grandson died of a Molly overdose in July, told the Journal that “these kids think they’re taking something that’s going to make them happy. Unfortunately, if you get a bad batch, you die.”

Fix contributor Kara Mason is a student at CSU-Pueblo.

CLICK HERE to Like The College Fix on Facebook / TWITTER: @CollegeFix

IMAGE: Paulina Spencer / Flickr

{ 2 comments }

I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing much more of this kind of thing in the near future.

Word is, The University of Virginia is dropping spouses from its health care insurance plan for many of its employees. It’s all in response to new regulations under the Affordable Healthcare and Patient Protection Act, a.k.a “Obamacare.”

I guess you could say that, at least for these employee spouses, Obamacare hasn’t made healthcare “affordabale” any more than it has offered them “protection.”

So much for Orwellian legislation titles.

The University of Virgina, led by the liberal Teresa Sullivan (friend and collaborator of Democratic Senator and self-styled champion of the poor Elizabeth Warren), is dropping spouses’ health insurance due to “rising health care costs” the University announced last Wednesday.

The change effects spouses who are eligible for employee health benefits elsewhere. Too bad for them if it’s more expensive to maintain two separate policies (and two premiums) for a single family.

But what’s amusing about this case, beside the fact that the overwhelmingly liberal leadership of UVA would have you believe that they’re the last ones on earth who’d deprive workers of their benefits, is this: UVA publicly supported Obamacare when it was being debated in Congress.

Yes, UVA administrators were vocal supporters of the bill they now say is forcing them to strip health benefits away from workers.

As the Virginia politics blog BearingDrift reports:

On March 19, 2010, Sally N. Barber, Special Advisor to the Medical Center CEO released publicly a letter to then Congressman, Tom Perriello, endorsing the Democrats’ health care proposal:

“I am writing on behalf of the University of Virginia Medical Center to indicate our support of the health reform package pending before the House because we believe providing affordable health coverage for more citizens of the Commonwealth is critical.” [emphasis added]

Sally Barber and The University of Virginia could not have been more wrong—or more shortsighted…

This is the hypocrisy of tax-and-spend liberalism. They want all kinds of benefits from the government, but they want no part in having to pay for those benefits themselves.

Even a wealthy university like UVA, with an endowment worth more than $5 billion, is telling employees that the level of health benefits they used to provide is just too costly.

UVA leaders should be ashamed to blame legislation they supported for the cancellation of workers’ benefits.

Maybe if they weren’t such reflexive supporters of president Obama and anything and everything he does, they would have had a chance to think more objectively about the consequences of the law they supported.

As it stands now, they’d like you to believe that the move to cancel benefits was entirely forced upon them.

Here’s my suggestion: If money’s so tight at UVA, maybe all the high-paid senior administrators who supported Obama and his health care takeover should start by cancelling their own health plans before taking benefits from the low-paid workers under their leadership.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Like The College Fix on Facebook. / Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden

{ 1 comment }

The wit and wisdom of President Ronald Reagan never – ever – gets old.

Newly released and previously unknown details of how the then-Governor of California handled college protestors has been published upon the recent death of William P. Clark, a close Reagan advisor, among other things. Clark gave his testimony to the Presidential Oral History program of the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.

Steven Hayward on the Power Line blog posted some of Clark’s remarks, and here are some highlights related to Reagan v. College Protestors.

To set the stage, it was the late 1960s, and Reagan was scheduled for a meeting in Oregon on a Saturday when he got wind of student protestors upset over tuition-related issues. The students planned a rally at the state capitol in Sacramento. Reagan decided to cancel his trip north and crash the party, Clark recalled:

… it was a cold, foggy morning and he said, “Let me know when they’re out there.” I said, “Yes, Governor, we will. Are you sure you want to go out there? These people are quite angry. They were even discussing the possibility of tuition at the UC campuses.” And he said, “Oh, yes, we have to do this.”

So we could hear the shouting and the leader speaking to them from the steps of the Capitol. And he went to the north end of the building and he said, “Bill, isn’t it time that we walk on down the hall and join them?” I said, “Governor, if you insist, we will.” So we walked through the double doors to the steps where this man was carrying on, I think he was a student leader. He of course couldn’t see us approach, his back would be to us as we went out the doors, but this vast crowd suddenly spotted the Governor himself and shocked faces told the speaker that something was going on behind him.

He turned around and saw the Governor and in shock just handed him the mike as a matter of courtesy. He was stunned, and the Governor of course in a very few minutes had the—maybe not the group in his hand by any means, but gave a rational explanation as to different options but no decisions being made and expressed he was glad to see them this morning. He effectively won the day. …

Anyway, several of us fanned out to different campuses to explain the tuition issue. He did go aboard the campuses at several junctures. Again, he was always well received. I recall the first time we went onto the UC campus at Berkeley, he was very quiet, studying the scene and this one particular group of poorly dressed, straggly, we were not sure they were students, beards and long hair on the men and one carrying a sign, “Make love, not war.” The Governor leaned over and he said, “Bill, do you think they’re capable of either?” I didn’t answer. [laughter]

LOL. Good one, President Reagan. We miss you.

Click here to read more of Clark’s memories.

Click here to Like The College Fix on Facebook  /  Twitter: @CollegeFix

IMAGE: Edalisse/Flickr

{ 0 comments }

The Huffington Post reports;

Thousands of students at the University of Virginia had their Social Security numbers exposed, the Cavalier Daily reports, putting them at risk of identity theft.

Aetna Student Health, which provides health insurance to students who buy coverage through the school, sent to 18,700 UVA students a brochure that had their Social Security number printed above their name. The university has 21,000 students total.

UVA officials learned of the error last week, and announced that it will provide affected students with free credit monitoring.

Full story here.

Click here to Like The College Fix on Facebook  /  Twitter: @CollegeFix

{ 0 comments }

A University of Virginia student was arrested after she fled from state alcoholic beverage control officers–with a bottle of water in her hands.

The raid was intended to crack down on suspected alcohol possession by underage youth. But the “raid” ended up looking like a case of embarrassing overreaction by authorities.

According to a news report of the incident, Elizabeth Daly, 20, bought “a carton of water, cookie dough and ice cream,” and then attempted to exit the Charlottesville store.

That’s when things started to get crazy.

A state beverage control officer–dressed in plain clothes, mind you, not in a uniform that would allow the young lady to easily identify him–approached Daly because the officer thought she was carrying a case of beer.

Apparently, being confronted by this unknown stranger, who was not in uniform and who was demanding to see what she had purchased, spooked the young lady. She told a reporter she and her friends were “terrified” by the sudden confrontation. Well, that’s understandable. Unfortunately, she fled in her car and in the process “struck” two government agents.

Quicker than you can say the words “bottled water,” she was booked on felony charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer and eluding police.

Those charges were soon dropped. (A fact that implies to me that her car didn’t “strike” the two officers with much force, and more than likely simply came into contact with them as they were trying to prevent her from driving away.)

These days, everyone’s talking about the rising “police state”–the controversial NSA surveillance program, and now reports of a White House order that, essentially, requires federal employees to spy on one another. Elizabeth Daly’s story won’t garner the headlines of these other big national stories, but her saga is evidence of the same sort of principle at work: It’s a case of vigilant police work gone too far.

So next time you buy a bottle of water, keep a sharp eye out. An undercover government agent could come storming in at any moment!

Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix and author of the book SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad.

Like The College Fix on Facebook.  / Follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanHarden

(Image by Sean Dreillinger / Flickr)

{ 0 comments }

Helen Dragas, the UVA board member behind last summer’s controversial attempted ouster of University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan, says she doesn’t regret her controversial actions, and that they resulted in positive change:

Helen Dragas regrets the turmoil and anger that enveloped the University of Virginia last summer after governing board leaders privately asked U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan to resign. But Dragas firmly maintains that the board did the right thing.

The university was — and still is — in trouble, Dragas says, a stance she believes has been vindicated by a recent consultant’s report that paints the public university as elitist and in need of change. Sullivan’s ouster and reinstatement a year ago, though painful and embarrassing, pushed administrators to form long-term, strategic academic and financial plans, the outcome Dragas says she wanted all along…

Read more here.

Click here to Like The College Fix on Facebook  /  Twitter: @CollegeFix

{ 0 comments }