Notice any safety measures in this picture? Graphic by Reece Butler.
AIDAN HARPER SMITH | OPINION COLUMNIST | email@example.com
Content warning: references to sexual violence are included in this article.
If Butler students are being honest, lots of us have talked the talk about safety on our nights or days here on campus, but we sometimes don’t walk the walk.
Whether going to a frat, any number of house parties behind frat row or a darty on the knoll, safety is certainly a thought, but it is quickly forgotten in lieu of seeing our friends, contemplating sitting on the dirty couches, stepping in the strange liquid on the floor or just consuming your chosen sin to make the party a little more interesting.
But what is so hazardous about forgetting our anxieties and the horrors of the world for a little bit? I will tell you, reader.
First, let’s start with the fun stuff. Drugs and alcohol are components of almost every party, whether we like to admit that openly or not. They have their benefits, such as getting rid of nerves, inhibitions and a great deal of difficult feelings. To put it plainly, they can just make us feel good.
But even these feel-good substances can be extremely dangerous. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), 1,519 college students die every year from alcohol overdose, and 696,000 college students are physically assaulted by someone who has been drinking. That’s not even taking into account personal injury from falling, hitting your head or sickness caused by binge drinking.
That of course isn’t all. There’s also the sensitive issue of sexual assault, which occurs all too often. According to NIH, one in five college women report sexual assault during their time in college, and alcohol and drugs are very often involved. Some drugs, such as rohypnol which is better known as “roofies,” can be used to take advantage of anyone if someone is given an opportunity. If mixed with alcohol, the drugs can cause memory loss; on their own they can put anyone into a delirious state where they are an easy target.
Butler parties are not immune to these occurrences. Junior psychology-criminology major Alexandria Archer recently went to a fraternity party and was underwhelmed with the experience.
“It was awful the last time I went,” Archer said. “There was a water dispenser [full of mystery liquid] with the lid off of it.”
Archer’s story immediately made me think of someone dropping aforementioned roofies into that open dispenser. It is carelessness like this that can lead to partygoers getting drugged or worse. It certainly does not help the reputation that fraternities have garnered nationally. So, what should we do to be safe at parties where we can’t control much? Well, we look at what we can control.
First, we can control what we put in our bodies. It is unrealistic for me to tell you not to drink. College kids are bound to drink. But, it is realistic to be safe about drinking. Make sure to know your limits, eat a meal before you go out and always drink a glass of water with each drink if you can.
Second, make sure your friends aren’t snorting or smoking anything without at least knowing what it is and testing it. Reagent kits are cheap on Amazon, and they can be the difference between snorting a normal dose of a known substance or snorting a lethal dose of a mystery substance. Narcan is also a good tool to carry as it can help with opioid overdoses.
As for advice on safety outside of substances, junior English major Tori Satchwell has got you covered.
“Definitely go [out] with your friends,” Satchwell said. “Don’t go by yourself. Make sure that it’s a friend that you can trust or a friend that you can rely on. The buddy system is always a great way to go.”
Making sure you have people around you with your best interests in mind is crucial. Even if it’s just you and one friend, that’s better than you alone. Some Greek chapters keep a designated number of individuals sober to keep members safe in a party environment. Satchwell is passionate about what being in her sorority means in a party environment.
“We have to have a certain amount [of sober sisters] to ensure that we’re just taking care of each other,” Satchwell said. “It’s the whole point of the sorority sisterhood and making sure that we’re all looking out for each other. So that’s one of the main reasons that we have that in place. If we feel uncomfortable, we just leave. There’s no reason for a party to be more important than safety.”
Aside from what we can do for ourselves and our friends, our campus administration and fraternities also have resources in place to help us. But, students don’t always know what those are. Luckily, Devin Hall, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, can shed some light on these safety measures.
“Walking home alone is definitely a no-no,” Hall said. “Students have been working with [Student Government Association] and [the Butler University Police Department] to talk about access to blue lights, where they’re all located, and I know [SGA] has been working a lot in that space and thinking about those practices, making sure our students know where the closest lights are, how to initiate and access support should they need to in case of an emergency.”
Blue light stations are the stations with the, you guessed it, blue lights on them which have buttons you can push in case of an emergency in order to contact the Butler University Police Department (BUPD). Hall then gave his perspective on a more difficult subject — sexual assault — and what the university does to manage that.
“We are helping make sure our [sorority and fraternity] chapter presidents are aware of how to report here at Butler University,” Hall said. “So, we worked with Georgia [Hensley], our Title IX coordinator, and she sent an email out to all of our chapter presidents that talked about the resources and tools that we provide. My ask [to Butler’s Greek houses] when it comes to safety for our students is just making sure that should students experience anything, they feel supported should they want to report.”
Lastly, Hall spoke about fraternity and university safety measures when it comes to substances.
“[Fraternities] all follow [the bring your own beverage rule] or [use] a third party vendor, which are the two ways in which national organizations will permit their members to host events with alcohol,” Hall said. “We also share with our students that BUPD is trained to administer Narcan. BUPD are also trained to be able to provide necessary support should someone be experiencing any type of post-relationship with a substance.”
Whether attending a party in a Greek house, a dorm or off campus, it is important to remember that safety should always come first, and having an absolute blast should be a close second.
“BUPD are the experts, right?” Hall said. “We continue to tell our students, ‘You’re not the experts. That’s okay. No one’s asking you to be the expert.’ But let’s get [the students] the help they need.”
If you or one of your friends is experiencing any sort of safety hazard, call BUPD, push that blue light button or let an sober event monitor know. You are not alone in dealing with these problems, and that’s part of what makes this small school of ours so wonderful.
Be safe out there Bulldogs, and have fun.