How to Stay Safe This Halloween
October 23, 2022 Written by Jessica Smith | Photo by Evan Centofanti
Did you know 73 percent of UD students report that they stop drinking before having too much on Halloween? Or that 88 percent of UD students make plans to get home safely on Halloween?*
All Hallows' Eve is quickly approaching, and Student Wellness and Health Promotion staff and the UD Wellbeing Ambassadors are campaigning to ensure Blue Hens are prepared to party safely.
From costumes to substance use, here are some tips and resources on how to stay safe all Halloweekend long.
Watch your booze and brews
Assistant Director of Substance Use Intervention Amy Richardson urges students to know their limits and avoid drinking too much or too quickly. Additionally, don’t leave drinks unattended or drink something when you don’t know how much alcohol is in it.
“Historically, Halloween has been a holiday heavily associated with celebratory drinking on college campuses, and UD is no different,” said Richardson. “If you choose to drink, count your drinks, space them out, drink water and eat nourishing food. Pour your own drinks and don’t accept drinks that you haven’t seen opened or made. Stop drinking when you start to feel buzzed.”
Costumes do not equal consent
“Many adult costumes are of the ‘sexy’ variety—sexy nurse, sexy fireman, sexy cat,” said Richardson. “But putting on a costume is just that: donning a pretend persona. That can be fun but is often misunderstood as an invitation for unsolicited attention.”
Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Peer Education Matt McMahon wants to reinforce the fact that those who do experience incidents of sexual misconduct are never at fault, especially because of how they choose to dress on Halloween.
“In our culture, it’s very common for people to dress in sexy or provocative costumes for Halloween,” said McMahon. “A sexy costume is not an invitation for sex; a person cannot and should not be blamed for experiencing harm for the way that they are dressed, nor for any other reason. Consent must be obtained before and throughout a sexual activity and the only way to receive consent is to ask in a clear and direct manner.”
Don’t ghost; stick with your friends
There is safety in numbers, so travel in groups to bars or parties and stay together. Come up with a plan for when you want to arrive, when you want to leave and how you’ll get home safely.
“One super simple way to keep people safe is to make sure you stay with the group of friends you came with or people that you know,” said sophomore wellbeing ambassador Katarina Rodriguez Thomas. “They can make sure that you don’t leave with anyone you don’t want to, and they can also help you if it seems that you’re reaching a dangerous level of alcohol or drug intake.”
Don’t forget the importance of bystander intervention, as well. Even if they're not a friend of yours, step in to help if you witness someone harming themselves or others.
“I would encourage everyone to look out for their fellow Blue Hens and to intervene if they suspect anyone may be in need of help due to an alcohol emergency or an act of sexual misconduct,” said McMahon. “Chances are, if you see something that may be harmful, others have noticed it, too. Working together in groups is the safest way to intervene. A simple act of checking in with someone you are concerned about or asking a person in authority to get help can have a huge impact in protecting someone.”
Creep it real
“Many students view [substance use] as a rite of passage, while others are trying to live up to their own expectations of what they think a college experience should be from what they see on TV and in the media,” said Richardson.
Don’t feel obligated to keep up with your peers when drinking or using drugs, especially if you don’t normally indulge. Stay true to yourself and put your wellbeing needs first.
“Halloween is a super fun and exciting time,” said senior wellbeing ambassador Stella Galli. “However, since it’s celebrated for nearly a week here at UD, it’s extremely important to remember that your health and wellbeing is a priority. Just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean you need to go berserk. Don’t do things you wouldn’t normally do just because it’s a renowned party week.”
Don’t be scared to ask for help
Amnesty is available to all students at the University and in the city of Newark. Even if you are or were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if you experience or witness assault or an act of sexual misconduct, you can seek help without disciplinary action or punishment.
“If you’re concerned about yourself or someone else related to drug or alcohol use, call 911 or get an RA,” said Richardson. “You can report the assault without the fear of judicial repercussions related to your alcohol or drug use.”
In events of sexual misconduct, regardless of substance use, Student Wellness and Health Promotion can support students through crisis counseling and victim advocacy. The Sexual Offense Support hotline provides confidential crisis support 24/7 through the UD Helpline at 302-831-1001 x 1. Students can schedule appointments by calling 302-831-3457 or online at udel.edu/studentwellness.
“We have trained professional staff who under Title IX legislation can provide confidential support,” said McMahon. “Our crisis counselors can help students process their trauma and remind them of all the different options available to start the healing process.”
Attend a monster bash on campus
If you want to have fun and celebrate safely, check out the list of Halloween events happening on campus, including a murder mystery night, spooky silent disco, Flock Friday and a Blue Hen Bus Trip to Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park.
“There are more resources than you think that are here to help,” said senior wellbeing ambassador Hayley Penn. “Don’t hesitate to take advantage of them. If you want something fun to do on the Saturday before Halloween, join us in Trabant on Oct. 29 starting at 9 p.m. for our Halloween Costume Ball. There will be food, music, a costume contest and more!”
*Data source: Spring 2022 survey of UD undergraduate students
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