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Tips to make your wild year safe

By Ella Peterson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 26, 2005
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Listen up, girls; here it is: The "How-To" Guide for having fun and staying safe, the rulebook of party conduct, a code of caution and caring.

It is not "ultimate" or "scorching." It is hardly definitive and a far cry from best-selling. Following these few simple steps will not teach you "how to really wow him between the sheets!" or where to find great shoes on a budget. These suggestions do not come with a money-back guarantee, and you may or may not be completely satisfied with the results.

But adhering to these few suggestions and expanding on them if needed may help keep you and those you care about safe, happy and having fun while you're out and about. With fraternity recruitment nipping close at the receding high heels of its female counterpart and the beginning of school offering another needless excuse to party, many will be taking advantage of the opportunity to go out and have a good time.

Women in particular should pay close attention to their surroundings and situations, both in the coming weeks and always. Common sense dictates what statistics show: Women are at high risk for victimization in alcohol-related sexual assaults, much more so than men.

In a study surveying more than 6,000 students at 32 universities and colleges across the nation, it was found that one in four women had been victims of rape or attempted rape. Consider your three closest female friends; it is not much of a statistical or logical jump that one of you will, at some point, become a victim of a sexual assault.

Utilizing the buddy system provides women with a support system in a fluid and unknown environment. Go out in a group, big or small, close-knit or newly acquainted. Generally speaking, women will do this without needing to be told, but make sure to connect with one or two people you trust and agree to watch out for one another.

Communicate with one another. Among all the choosing of outfits, straightening of hair, application of makeup, and Madonna sing-along sessions, discuss your intentions for the evening's activities. Express what you want to happen, what you do not want to happen; companions can serve as a check for moments of weakened judgment, even if it's just as a gentle "are you sure that's what you want to do?"

Stick together. The cliché mass bathroom exodus does have a legitimate safety purpose in certain situations, and partying is definitely one of these. Be aware of one another, no matter where you may be in a room or a house, catch your buddy's eye every so often, and touch base with one another.

Designate someone to stay clear-headed, with a clear understanding of the situation. Determine early on who plans to keep their wits about them, all driving plans aside. It is often a thankless job, convincing a belligerent, determined friend that it is not in their best interests to jump off that roof into the pool, or that another drink might be one too many, or that going somewhere with a strange man might not be the smartest idea. However, the alternative to awareness leads to chaotic decisions, rash mistakes and sometimes lifelong consequences.

Be honest with one another. Don't go away without telling someone - this is a responsibility both to your own safety and that of your friends. Remember, while you may be willing to go it alone, you can't make that decision for the person you're with. When a member of the group is ready to leave, someone should go along with her. If anyone wants to stay, make sure they have a buddy.

All studies and numerical evidence aside, the simple fact that most women would hesitate to walk across campus alone at night shows that the world in which we live is not a flawless one. Understand that despite best efforts and precautions, bad things sometimes happen, and when they do, they are no one's fault but the one who committed the crime.

This is not to say that as women, we should live in constant fear or preparation for attack. The women of this campus are intelligent, confident people, and enjoying downtime with friends, going out dancing, and meeting new people are all things that we should embrace enthusiastically and wholeheartedly, but with balance and awareness of the realities of the world we live in.

Ella Peterson is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at

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