Letter to the Editor: Staying Safe During O-Week

[Trigger warning: This letter concerns mentions of non-consensual intoxication and sexual assault, which may be triggering for some readers. We advise all those reading to prioritize their own wellbeing, and to feel free to stop reading or take breaks at any time if you foresee this topic may be personally distressing for you. You may also consider returning to this article at a different time, when you are in a safe space both physically and mentally]

Happy O-Week, first-years!

We are Advocates and Night Owls from SHARE (Sexual Health Advocacy and Relationship Education), a currently student-run organization that works to foster safety and consent on campus. The orientation weekend is a great time for some before-semester fun, but unfortunately, it is also a dangerous time for incoming first-years. During the 2021 Orientation weekend, an incoming first-year was involuntarily intoxicated; during the last orientation weekend, an incoming first-year was sexually assaulted. We are writing to give you some tips on how to stay safe over the weekend and how to seek support in a crisis. 

Staying safe 

1. Make a plan
Fun is often associated with spontaneity, but planning is an important part of ensuring safety. To start making a plan, first find out what is happening over the weekend –  you can read through the SB info email, talk to your peers, and ask your HA or OWL for what to expect – and see which events interest you. Once you have a list, locate the events on a map and plan a route back to your dorm. The Reed campus isn’t very large, but it can look different when it’s dark. To avoid inconvenient surprises, it’s important to familiarize yourself with our campus. Next, consider how substances fit into your plan. Are you open to ingesting alcohol and other drugs? If so, which ones and how much? How will you stay safe while intoxicated?    

2. Think about consent
Consent is always essential to a safe weekend. Before partaking in the festivities, it’s important to review what you learned from the consent talks. How will you show consent? How does it change when you are intoxicated? If someone else is in need of support, how will you intervene as a bystander? 

3. Learn about substances
When it comes to substances – alcohol and other drugs, the first rule is to never accept them from anyone you don’t know or trust, especially if they are insistent that you do. If you think you might try drugs, do some research on the effect of different drugs when taken on their own and with other drugs, so the effect doesn’t take you by surprise. Learn how to use alcohol fentanyl test strips, which tests whether your drink has been spiked, and Narcan, which can reverse an opioid overdose in emergency situations. Remember Medical Amnesty: if a student experiences any physical or psychological crisis under the influence of alcohol and drugs, the student in crisis and any student calling for help will NOT get into trouble with Reed’s Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) policy. Always call for help when you or someone else needs it.

4. Buddy up
Events aren’t just more fun when you go with a friend – they are safer, too. Reach out to peers around you and find someone who is interested in similar events. Go together, keep an eye on each other’s drinks, intervene for each other if needed, and walk back together. If you can’t find an event buddy, tell someone where you will be and ask them to check in with you, especially around the time you plan to be back. Text the Night Owls who will gladly walk you back to your dorm. 

Seeking support in a crisis 

1. SHARE and related 
If you need water, snacks, safer sex supplies, or someone to walk you across campus, text the Night Owls at 844-458-3067 or message them on Instagram @sharenightowls. They are available Friday and Saturday nights 10pm-2am. They can also help you deal with over-intoxication and be an initial contact for concerns about sexual harm. They do not report any misconduct.

If you are experiencing or have experience sexual assault, sexual harrassment, or stalking, contact the Advocates at advocates@reed.edu. They will respond within 48 hours. They provide confidential emotional support, referral to medical care, assistance on reporting an incident, and information about resources and reporting options. 

If you need immediate confidential support, contact RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673. 

If you need housing, legal, or financial assistance related to sexual harm you have experienced, contact Call to Safety at 503-235-4673. 

2. Community Safety
If you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency, or if you need to contact the police, fire department, or ambulance, call the Community Safety Officers (CSOs) at 503-517-5355. The CSOs are available 24/7. Remember that if you contact the CSOs for a medical emergency for yourself or someone else, you will not get into trouble for the associated AOD violation. 

3. Health and Counseling Center (HCC)
The HCC provides medical and counseling services. They also provide resources for alcohol and other drugs: Narcan prescription, needle and syringe distribution, and fentanyl test strips. Their website gives more details. The HCC is open 9am-5pm on weekdays. During after hours, call 866-432-1224 if you need mental health support, and 800-214-4469 for medical advice. 

Stay safe and have fun!

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Staying Safe During O-Week – Quest. – Health Reporter
1 month ago

[…] or have experience sexual assault, sexual harrassment, or stalking, contact the Advocates at advocates@reed.edu. They will respond within 48 hours. They provide confidential emotional support, referral to […]

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