Blog #33: Tips For Your Freshman On Keeping Safe At College Parties
Updated: Aug 16, 2022
If you have a freshman headed to college in the fall, you probably have some anxiety about them hanging out at wild and crazy college parties! Look, our parents were concerned for us when we headed off to college in the ‘70s and ‘80s and we (mostly) survived! So, it is normal to be a bit anxious about whether your freshman will be able to handle college parties. Irrespective of college rules and state laws, alcohol is frequently served at college parties and available to everyone, including underage freshman.
Most freshman want to go to college parties. There they can socialize, dance, make friends, blow off steam, have fun, and begin building a social network with their peers. A party can be a large gathering with dancing at a house, or a small get-together in a dorm room or common area. Any college get-together can be loads of fun. But if alcohol is served, there is an increased risk that harassing or threatening behaviors may occur. To be sure, “heavy drinking is one of the most significant predictors of sexual assault in college.” See Drinking is central to college culture – and to sexual assault - The Washington Post. In a 2015 Washington Post poll, 20% of college women and 5% of college men polled reported that they had been sexually assaulted in college. Poll: One in 5 women say they have been sexually assaulted in college - Washington Post. You should, of course, discourage your freshman from consuming alcohol. In our last blog (dated July 18, 2022) we discussed the hazards that alcohol consumption presents to college students. But, even if your freshman does not drink, it is still important that they be made aware of the need to stay safe at parties where alcohol is served.
Here are some useful tips on safely navigating large and small college parties that you might want to share with your freshman:
· Eat and drink water before going out. By eating and hydrating, your freshman can mitigate the effect of any alcohol they may consume at a party. Healthline.com provides 15 of the best foods to consume before going out and drinking: What to Eat Before Drinking? Your Top 15 Choices (healthline.com).
· Have a buddy-system. Go out with friends or roommates, and make sure that each person is paired up with a buddy so they can cruise the party together and will always know where the other is at.
· Keep your drink with you. If your freshman gets a drink (any drink), they should always keep it with them and never leave it unattended or with a person they do not know or may not trust. A perpetrator could sneak a harmful drug into their drink unbeknownst to them. If your freshman leaves their drink unattended, do not consume. Just throw it out.
· Do not accept drinks from a stranger or someone you don’t trust. Your freshman will be meeting many new people, but they should avoid accepting a drink at a party from a person they do not know well, or do not trust. It is best that your freshman gets their own drink or have one of their buddies get drinks or food (assuming the buddy is practicing similar safety measures).
· Know your alcohol tolerance and do not exceed your limit. Everyone has their own tolerance for alcohol. In the event that your freshman opts to drink, advise them not to exceed their limit. You don’t want to be unable to walk, talk or think clearly while out at a party, so knowing your alcohol tolerance limit is important. If your freshman exceeds their limit, they should locate their buddy and make arrangements to get back to the dorm.
· Avoid going into isolated areas at a party with someone you do not know or trust. This goes back to your freshman staying with their buddy and avoiding going into a closed or isolated space with a person they do not know or trust. If they feel uncomfortable, and the person they are with is preventing them from leaving the isolated space, your freshman should do their best to get away and that includes screaming if they need to.
· Take important personal items. Your freshman should have their student ID and/or driver’s license, keys, cell phone (and small charger if they can), and credit card or cash when they go out. They may need money for a cab, or cell phone to call Uber or Lyft if they want to get back to the dorm. Many colleges have Escort Van services, which are free shuttles that transport students around campus at night. If your freshman leaves a party early, they should tell their friends or buddy, so they are not looking for your freshman later.
· Do not walk alone at night. Even on the safest of campuses, walking alone at night can be dangerous for women and men. Ideally, your freshman will leave a party with the same friends they arrived with. If walking at night with friends, advise your freshman to travel on well-lit paths and note the location of blue light emergency phones on the campus. These emergency phones allow students to immediately reach campus security if they feel threatened or unsafe. There are also apps that can bring the functionality of the emergency phone system to your freshman’s cell phone. Your freshman can inquire with their college about the availability of this app for use on campus.
· Avoid giving in to social pressure. If parties get too wild, your freshman might be encouraged by partygoers to do something crazy, or they may be with a companion who is putting undue pressure on them to do something that makes them uncomfortable. Tell your freshman that if someone or something makes them uncomfortable at a party, don’t do it and walk, or run, away.
· Never leave a party with a person you do not know or trust. In addition to avoid being in isolated areas at a party, never leave a party with a person you do not know or do not trust. Instead, your freshman should locate the friends they arrived with and leave with them!
Your freshman can have a great social life on campus, but it is important to party responsibly and take measures to keep safe!