Syllabus week. Easy first days of classes, moving into your new place, catching up with all your friends, waiting for the fun that happens after dark. Being back on campus brings mixed feelings, but we are all excited to be here for one reason or another.
Whether it is your first, second, or even sixth year, there is something about being in college that gives you a false sense of invincibility. You feel like nothing can take you down and that you are given this time to be young and reckless and make stupid decisions that quickly become legendary stories.
The brute reality, though, is that we are not invincible. It is so, so easy for one little mistake to lead to a night filled with flashing lights—and not the kind you find in the basement of your friend's house. Every single year it seems like things get way too out of hand during syllabus week and someone ends up getting hurt or even dying. It happens on our campus and on campuses all over the country. But it is so easy to prevent it if you just take the time to be smart about what you are doing and to be aware of those around you.
Know your limits. If it's your first time drinking or your seven-hundredth, take it slow. Drink water. Please, eat something before you go out. Don't leave your drinks alone. Know what is in your cup. You'll be thanking yourself for it in the morning and you will be safe.
Stay together. Take a trip back to middle school and use the buddy system. You'll be able to keep your friends safe and you'll have someone looking out for you. Besides, who wants to go out alone? Don't leave your friends stranded out in ApartmentLand because you really want to get to John's place across town. Make sure you and everyone you are with gets home in one piece.
Know the signs. You're in college so use that big brain of yours. If you see someone in a bad situation, help them or find someone else who can. Know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, drug abuse, overdose, assault. Don't put yourself in danger, but don't leave things up to chance if you have a bad feeling about it.
Be smart. Have fun but know where to draw the line and when to just head home for the night. Take care of each other. Think things through. It all seems so simple, but if you all just do these things, we can keep our campus so much safer this week and for the entire semester. It doesn't matter if it's for a "cool pic," if someone dares you, you want to impress a group of people, or it sounds like a good adrenaline rush—none of these are worth your life or the lives of those around you.
Have some (smart) fun this syllabus week!