With Halloween and Homecoming this weekend, University officials are encouraging students to keep safety in mind while celebrating during these festivities.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, University Police Chief Robert Neumann said the University plans to work with the Ann Arbor Police Department to increase enforcement over the weekend. He also stressed the role of the larger community in ensuring public safety.
“It’s really a collaborative effort with everyone being observant to those that need help and taking action when you see something that needs to be done,” Neumann said.
He said students often have the tendency to ignore dangerous situations, and encouraged students to avoid taking drinks from a common container and to never leave a drink unattended.
Wolverine Wellness Director Mary Jo Desprez said these celebrations have the potential to compromise student safety. However, she added that it is possible for students to stay safe and have fun.
“Nobody wants to ruin anybody’s fun; our goal is that everyone has a blast and that there’s also this culture of caring for each other, and not just caring that you take care of somebody, but not letting them get to the point where they’re sick,” Desprez said.
Desprez outlined similar protocols to Neumann’s. She emphasized having a plan: eat before drinking, space out drinks and limit the amount of liquor consumed. Desprez noted that the student-designed Stay in the Blue app can help students track their drinking, which was launched in 2013 in partnership with the University Health System’s alcohol safety program. The app, which has been downloaded more than 6,000 times, calculates blood alcohol content based upon weight and frequency, type and amount of alcohol consumed.
Desprez said it is important to acknowledge that drinking is not a part of everyone’s social life.
“It’s always okay not to drink, and we actually have a lot of students on campus who don’t drink and for lots of different reasons,” Desprez said. “Some don’t drink because of religious reasons, some don’t drink because they’re on medicine, some don’t drink because they’re on probation and some don’t drink because they’re in recovery.”
To provide alternative opportunities this weekend, PULSE, Sexperteam, Diversity Peer Educators and the Expect Respect campaign are sponsoring a Halloween tailgate on the Diag Saturday. The event will feature a photo booth, games, free food and face painting.
Christina Gerazounis, a health educator at University Health Service and staff adviser to PULSE, said various student organizations, including many sponsoring the Halloween Diag tailgate, have spent the week “reverse trick-or-treating” with participants distributing candy, T-shirts, water bottles and safe sex kits to students on campus.
“They are engaging students on campus on how they plan to have a safe and fun Halloween weekend,” Gerazounis said. “And so the biggest point is to actually engage them and hear from them instead of them just taking free stuff.”