How About A New College Party Favor? A “Designated Walker”

Homer statue in front of Old Cabell Hall at th...
Homer statue in front of Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autumn days on college campuses…

College campus news is filled with varied articles, with the fall semester now three to four weeks old. Most news offers the latest developments in academia or sports events. And then of course, some colleges are dealing with sorrowful news.

These events, sadly, are not uncommon. We’ve reported before that in any given year 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.

Charlottesville, VA police continue to search for Hannah Graham

While the four colleges referenced above struggle with grief, once again reviewing their rules and regulations as they pertain to drinking and abusing alcohol while on campus or at college related events, and they will offer some comfort to the parents and family members of the deceased students. Investigations into these incidents will continue for months and maybe years.

Sadly, the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville, VA, Police continue to search for 18year old sophomore Hannah Graham. Hannah went to a party on Friday September 12, 2014. At 1:20 a.m. on September 13, 2014, she texted her friends to say she was lost. On Sunday afternoon September 14, 2014, Hannah was reported missing.

It is believed that Hannah was intoxicated, there are a lot of unanswered questions and the investigation continues.

What can college administrators do to help students be safe, what can college students do to be safe?

When we first learned about Hannah Graham it occurred to us that perhaps college administrators should suggest a “designated walker” program. We always hear about someone volunteering to be the “designated driver,” but what if a few college students would agree to attend a party with friends and be the “designated walker” to make sure that more students get back to their dorm or apartment.

It turns out that even the Urban Dictionary provides a clear definition of a “designated walker.” Additionally, Indiana State University indeed has a “designated walker” program. And Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis’ (IUPUI) new program is covered by the Kokomo Tribune:

[Hailey]Macke and other IUPUI student leaders have been trained as part of a new initiative that encourages bystander intervention to reduce alcohol’s harmful consequences. The program’s goal is to encourage students to stop bad behavior before it crosses the line from drunken partying to something worse – and what to do if that line is crossed.
Program supporters hope it does to campus culture what the designated driver campaign has done to reduce drunken driving deaths. Both campaigns acknowledge that drinking to excess can’t be stopped, but some of the terrible collateral damage can.

If you have children attending college, you might find interesting this article about Swarthmore College’s new party policy.

WWLP reports on new initiatives on New England campuses:

Some closing thoughts…

Parenting, as we have often said, is a journey. Sending our children off to college whether they are in your hometown or across the country can bring with it many unforeseen challenges. To experience the heartache of the late night phone call that comes from a hospital emergency department or a police department is something no one should have to endure. Start a conversation with your children, or maybe you need to jump start the conversation.

Every college party should come with “designated walkers” or maybe they can be called “party favors” ~ a small gift given to the guests at a party as a gesture of thanks for their attendance, a memento of the occasion. Let the memento be LIFE!

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