While Halloween is a time for haunted houses, costume parties and candy-induced stomach aches, for college campuses it’s also a time to be keenly aware of your surroundings. For college-age students, Halloween is the weekend to flock to university campuses for parties and masquerades. With masked and costumed partygoers taking to the streets to get to the cross-campus bash of their choosing, this spooky holiday sets the stage for many real-life scares.
At a 2014 Halloween party in Monroe County, Michigan, approximately 30 miles from Ann Arbor, 22-year-old Chelsea Bruck left the party and never came back. Hundreds of search parties, flyers and phone calls later, and still there were no answers. Then six months later, on April 24, 2015, her body was discovered in a field in Monroe County. Evidence concluded that it was a homicide, according to police. Although this isn’t the case for every Halloween party, tragedies like this can and do happen.
Everyone was told as a child to be alert on Halloween night, but who will remind college students? Your mother’s warning to always watch your drink can only go so far. It’s not uncommon for young adults to feel indestructible – still possessing the “but that could never happen to me,” mantra that keeps away the fears of the ugly in the world.
Although this message may seem grim, with college students already having growing concerns of mass shootings and rape culture on campuses across the nation, it’s important to keep safety in the forefront while still having a good time.
According to a 2010 article on www.crimeinamerica.net, “University and college campuses around the United States have experienced an increase in riots and disturbances by large crowds of college-aged participants” on Halloween in particular.
One study of college students concluded that Halloween is one of the three heaviest drinking days of the year, according to the Journal of American College Health. With 19 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 24 meeting the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, it is no mystery that alcohol has a large presence on college campuses – and the increasing temptations to drink on holidays. With this said, while we wouldn’t suggest that students have to stay sober to stay safe, simply know your limits.
Just like a car accident, it takes two to cause a calamity. So, just because you’re not incoherent, doesn’t mean that those around you aren’t hazardously intoxicated. Just because you have good intentions, doesn’t mean that everyone in the room shares them.
No one should place blame on those who are taken advantage of under the influence, but there is blame to be given to those who do the advantage-taking. Each year an estimated 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, and an estimated 599,000 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.
On Halloween weekend specifically, 44 percent of national fatal crashes involved a driver or motorcyclist with a BAC of 0.08 or higher according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
So, while celebrating this Halloween season, remember to have fun, but also keep in mind what lurks in the dark goes beyond the classic demons or ghouls. The things that college students are at risk for aren’t usually behind the movie screen, but rather behind the wheel or behind closed doors.