UnderCover Colors: How to Scare Perpetrators

Some of the most common phrases or instruction given to a teenager, college student, or any young adult before going to a party is, “Don’t accept a drink from a stranger”, “Watch the bartender poor your drink”, or “If you put your drink down at a party, make sure you make a new one”. All of these phrases have been created in response to the ever-growing rape culture that has developed over the past two decades.

Now, at parties, on college campuses or even simply at the bar, accepting a drink from a stranger may no longer be considered a hazardous choice. Undercover colors, a nail polish line devised by 4 college students from North Carolina State University hopes to be the “first fashion company empowering women to prevent sexual assault”.

The nail polish is devised from the same material as a common litmus test used in a chemistry lab. The polish will change color when a chemical is present in the drink. While another device to such chemicals in drinks like that of DrinkSafeTech, where a simple drop on a drug testing coaster could make all the difference, the creators of UnderCover colors believe that wearing a nail polish and simply stirring a drink would be a lot more discreet and successful because the girls with nail polish on are not uncommon.

The creators devised this idea as each and every one of them has had a family member or a close friend who has been a victim of sexual assault. What makes this invention even more fascinating is that all 4 creators are males who wish to truly empower women Ankesh Madan, Stephen Gray, Tyler Confrey, and Tasso Von Windheim’s idea really started to take root once they realized that a product should be made that would make perpetrators start to fear their actions, as there would finally be some repercussions to their actions.

In an interview with Stephen Grey, he reveals his own personal reasons for wanting to be a part of such a major project.

“My sister was going into her freshman year of college at Syracuse University when we first thought of the idea back in August of 2013. Being one of the largest party schools in America, I knew I would never want anything to happen to her, but just giving her simple advise not to accept a drink from a stranger wasn’t enough for me. A year before that, one of my best friends was assaulted at Columbia University, and the next morning she couldn’t recall any of the details of her assault, as a date rape drug was present in her system when she went to the hospital later that day.” Said Grey.

Why is such a tool necessary today? With the creation of drugs like Xanax, rohypnol, it has become very easy for rape to occur and go unpunished, as many of the victims cannot recall events coherently making it impossible for claims to be taken to court, or sometimes to even be listened to.

This nail polish is a scientific step to perhaps make a real change in a nationwide problem. According to statistics from the Washington Post, more than 3,900 allegations of forcible sex offenses on college campuses nationwide in 2012, a statistic that rose 50 percent in three years.

The team of 4 has seen much success in terms of getting some great financial backing, according to Grey, “ We’ve raised over $150,000 dollars to refine our technology and hopefully we will launch our product finally in January 2015, but we are still working on a patent, and we need to make sure that every bottle of nail polish will be with out any defects, as someone’s choice to take a sip of something could depend on us”.

Often times many perpetrators are never brought to justice, and victims are often too afraid to come forward because of guilt or perhaps the simple fact that they cannot remember what occurs. According to Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times in a recent interview with UVA about sexual assaults, “UVA has admitted they have allowed students who have confessed to sexually assaulting another student to remain on campus. That is and remains shocking”.

With a new device like UnderCover colors, perhaps we will see a huge change in the way Rape Culture is handled. With the simple fact that a drug is indeed present in a drink, a potential victim will have the power to decide whether or not they should take a sip, a choice that could save their life or keep them out of a situation that could affect their well being for the rest of their life. Only the launch in 2015 will tell.