Safety on the safe.unc.edu website

Have you ever wondered about the bright green “leave website now” button in the top right corner of the SAFE website?

safe website

This button is a safeguard for individuals who are experiencing violence or abuse. Abusers often control the types of information and resources their partner can access, including information about getting help. It may not be safe for someone who has a controlling partner to be browsing a website where there’s information about how to get help. Learn more about controlling behaviors here.

  • The button lets them leave the site in 1 click if the abuser enters the room or looks over their shoulder.
  • You’ll find a similar button on other websites that serve victims of violence, such as the local domestic violence agency, Compass Center for Women and Families:
    http://compassctr.org/get-help/domestic-violence/safety-planning/

If you suspect that it may not be safe for you to look at websites on getting help, be sure to clear your browser history. Click on this link for additional tips from the National Network to End Domestic Violence for staying safe online when you are in a violent or controlling relationships.

Visit the Get Help Now Section of the SAFE website for even more information about getting help for sexual or interpersonal violence or stalking.

If you’re not feeling safe in your relationship, help is available through both confidential and private resources. Everyone has a right to a safe and loving relationship.

 

Kelli is the Coordinator for Violence Prevention Programs at UNC Student Wellness. Kelli has a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The College of William and Mary in Women’s Studies. Kelli believes we can prevent sexual violence, interpersonal violence, stalking, harassment, and discrimination by changing systems of oppression, empowering bystanders, supporting survivors, and holding individuals accountable for their problematic behavior.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Safe Sparks: How to Find Your Online Match

"Dating Online" by whybealone1, Flickr Creative Commons
“Dating Online” by whybealone1, Flickr Creative Commons

Match.com. eHarmony. Tinder. OkCupid. Coffee Meets Bagel. Over the past few years, all of these online dating websites have gained members. Online dating has become increasingly more common, especially among millennials. According to one study, 22% of Americans ages 25-34 have used an online dating website. Do people find their soul mate online? The data is unclear, but lots of people definitely meet people online, for friendship, relationships, and/or sex.

Meeting up with someone for the first time can be scary or intimidating, but it can also be a lot of fun! Here are some tips to make the most out of your online dating experiences:

  • Be careful what information you put online. It’s not recommended to put your last name, address, or work online since anyone can access it. Only share your phone number with people whom you plan to get to know better or meet up with.
  • It’s a good idea to chat online or on the phone (or even facetime!) before you meet. This way you can see if you want to meet up with them rather than arriving for a date and realizing then that they seem sketchy.
  • Meet in a public place, such as a coffee shop, for a first date. It’s not recommended to meet for the first time at someone’s apartment, dorm, or house.
  • Arrange your own transportation. This way you can leave at any point and won’t have to depend on the person to get you home.
  • Let a friend or two know where you are going ahead of time and who you are meeting up with. It can be a good idea to have a friend call or text you at some point to give you an “out” in case you want to leave. You can have a code word or just say that your friend needs you.
  • If you plan on hooking up or having sex, discuss expectations ahead of time. Discuss contraception and barrier methods (such as condoms and dental dams), comfort level with certain acts, and what you expect out of the meet up. Know that you can change your mind at any point in time, and you never have to do something you are uncomfortable or unsure about. Consent is required for all sexual acts.
  • Trust your intuition. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, trust that feeling. Never feel guilty for stopping communication with someone who doesn’t make you feel good.

 

Amee Wurzburg is the Sexual Violence Prevention Program Manager at Student Wellness. She is currently earning her Masters in Public Health at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC. Amee received her BA in History from Barnard College of Columbia University. Before moving to North Carolina, Amee worked at an organization in India focused on HIV, where she worked on projects related to rights-violations, LGBTQ health, and domestic violence.

Meet Rebecca Gibson from the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office

This is Rebecca Gibson, the Report & Response Coordinator at UNC. She works in the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office, where she provides support and resources for students who have experienced sexual or interpersonal violence, stalking, and other forms of discrimination and harassment. She is your go-to person in case you are in need of the services she provides. I chatted with Rebecca to get a better idea of who she is and what she does.

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Gibson.
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Gibson.

Kelli Raker (KR): Tell me about your background. What led you to this position?
Rebecca Gibson (RG):
I’m a social worker by training and previously worked at the Durham Crisis Response Center managing the sexual assault program. I’ve consistently been drawn to this field because of the greater social influences and the resiliency that survivors exhibit even after great trauma has happened to them. I have always aspired to work in higher education. When this opportunity became available at UNC-Chapel Hill to do the work that I’m passionate about, it was just too good to pass up.

KR: What happens in your first meeting with a student who has experienced violence?
RG:
In our first meeting, I will explain my role in the process and available resources. I thank them for contacting me and try to assess any immediate safety concerns or medical needs. We’ll discuss community and campus-based confidential resources, interim protective measures, and reporting options, including speaking to law enforcement and making a formal report to the University.

I will explain that I am a private resource, which means that I will share information only as needed with the Title IX compliance coordinator, relevant staff in the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC), and other parties on campus who have a need to know depending on the conduct and where it happened. I will discuss immediate safety concerns and the option to go to the hospital to receive medical care. If the student discloses or alludes to some form of sexual violence, I will explain the option to receive a sexual assault forensic exam at UNC Hospitals or Campus Health Services and talk a bit about the role of the community advocate in providing hospital accompaniment if they choose to receive the exam. I will also provide information about confidential resources such as Cassidy Johnson, gender violence services coordinator, in the event the student would like to talk in a confidential space before talking with me.

It’s truly up to the student in this meeting to decide how much he or she wants to tell me about the violence itself. There are no obligations to provide details. That being said, my ability to help address safety concerns or discuss protective measures will be limited if the student doesn’t want to tell me anything. We’ll talk together about any concerns with academics or housing and if there is a possibility the aggressor will contact the student in the near future.

KR: What about when you meet with someone who may have harmed, harassed, or discriminated against another person?
RG: My role at Carolina is a neutral one. I’m a point of contact for those involved to answer questions, clarify steps, and connect to resources. In meeting with the individual who is responding to allegations of misconduct, I will provide appropriate resources and support just as I would make referrals and connections for a student who reported experiencing these types of conduct. I will explain what they can expect throughout the University’s investigation process, discuss next steps, and address questions they may have. There are times I’m simply not able to answer a question due to student privacy rights, relevant laws, or safety concerns. If there are questions or concerns either party has that I’m not able to answer or address, my job is to find the person who can provide the information.

KR: Why should someone come to talk to you?
RG:
I can facilitate interim protective measures such as academic accommodations or changes to housing, give perspective on reporting options, and connect individuals to resources both at the University and in the community. Ew Quimbaya-Winship also provides this assistance.

For someone who wants the University to pursue a formal investigation of an alleged policy violation, I’m the first point of contact to get that process moving.

For someone who isn’t sure about how they want to proceed, I’m able to talk through what the reporting process would look like and connect that person to others who can support them regardless of the decision to report. The University will make every effort to respect the individual’s decision about how to proceed.

KR: What do you wish all students knew about your office?
RG: I want students to know that my office is a welcoming space and resource for the entire Carolina community. My team is made up of smart, compassionate people who are working hard to make this campus safe and equitable.

I also want folks to know that in addition to addressing sexual violence, my office is also the place to go if you’re experiencing harassment or discrimination based on any protected status: age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and veteran status.

KR: Well, there you have it. Thanks, Rebecca! Always remember there are resources on campus to help you if you face any form of discrimination or harassment!

 

Kelli Raker is the Coordinator for Violence Prevention Programs at UNC Student Wellness. Kelli has a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from The College of William and Mary in Women’s Studies. Kelli believes we can prevent sexual violence, interpersonal violence, stalking, harassment, and discrimination by changing systems of oppression, empowering bystanders, supporting survivors, and holding individuals accountable for their problematic behavior.

What happens if we don’t do anything?

This blog was written by Jessica Smith-Ninaber, a social media intern with One Act, to address what happens when we do not intervene in situations that may lead to violence.

Let’s paint a picture. You’re at a party, the music is loud, there’s no furniture, it’s so crowded, and you look across the room and see a man with a woman “all up in her face”. She looks cordial at first, “I think I’m good here”, he doesn’t want to hear it, he moves closer to her and begins to try and dance with her, “Sorry, I have a boyfriend”, she says. Her face begins to look more and more uncomfortable as you witness the man getting closer and closer.

Thoughts run fast through your head:

  • She must know him. Why else would he be all up in her face?
  • He’s just drunk and probably messing around. He doesn’t know what he’s doing…I hope.
  • Does she need help?
  • Who, me? No, I couldn’t, it’s none of my business.
  • I should go help her, but is it safe?

And if you’re feeling extra brave that night…

  • I am going to help her!

This kind of scenario happens weekly for many people on our college campus. We go to a party, we witness something that doesn’t seem quite right, two people going upstairs, one person’s drunk and the other is sober, and so often we just stand there, unable to think properly, unable to act, and unable to intervene.

We know the positives of intervening, we know what happens when we muster up the courage to approach someone and diffuse the potentially dangerous situation, we know the good that can come out of it, but have we ever stopped to think about what might happen if we don’t intervene?

blog - jess pic 2
Image courtesy of ExplorePortal on Twitter

It’s so easy to think the small acts we do don’t make a difference. It’s so much easier to not take responsibility and think that someone else will step up and intervene. It’s so much easier to just ignore the situation.

And yet, while that may all seem so easy and we continue about our days, our community is tolerating violence. Members of our community are becoming victims of violence. While it may be easier to not think about the woman at the party in that uncomfortable situation, on the inside she is screaming, “someone help me!”

If we don’t intervene, if we sit by passively, violence will most likely occur, sexual assault will most likely happen. We hear the statistic all the time, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their time at UNC, so how can we standby and do nothing? If you don’t say something, if you don’t intervene, if you think someone else will, then you are letting violence happen on your watch, all in the name of “it’s none of my business”. It is our responsibility as active bystanders to be just that, active bystander. It is also our responsibility as members of our Carolina community to promote behavior that we wish to become the norm; to stop behavior that threatens our safety; to promote an alternative Carolina Way that is committed to promoting health and safety on our campus.

blog - jess pic
Image courtesy of Penn State on Flickr 

So the next time you see someone in an uncomfortable situation at a party, run up to them and with all the vibrancy you can muster say, “Hey, weren’t you in my class?!” It’s just an out if someone needs it. Diffuse the awkward and uncomfortable situation, and get between the person and the potential perpetrator. Do something. Do your One Act. Create a new Carolina Way and together, let’s put an end to violence at UNC.

If you want to contribute to creating a new culture at Carolina you can start by signing up for One Act training here.

“Eyes on the Street”: Why Be Active In Your Community?

There are plenty of personal reasons to walk, jog, bike or otherwise actively get around: it increases one’s own ability to get exercise, it’s cheap (or free!), and can have positive mental health outcomes like lowering stress and anxiety. But, actively getting around has greater altruistic benefits as well. Many of these are centered around the “eyes on the street” principle from sociologist Jane Jacobs:

“This is something everyone knows: a well-used city street is apt to be a safe street. A deserted city street is apt to be unsafe.”

The idea here is that the more eyes you have on a given street, the greater sense of community ownership and safety. The spirit of “eyes on the street” is not so much about watching what’s around us, but rather seeing and taking a part in what is around us, and thus, shaping the community. Here are the “eyes on the street” benefits of actively getting around campus and community by walking, biking, jogging, etc.:

 

"Just Walking"; Beverly Goodwin; Flickr Creative Commons
“Just Walking”; Beverly Goodwin; Flickr Creative Commons

Getting to know community and community members

It sounds like a no-brainer, but actively getting around campus and the community allows us to get better acquainted with neighbors and those around us. When we choose to walk or bike versus drive, we have the ability to interact with those around us by smiling, waving, taking a minute to talk, etc. In a local example: in the Chapel Hill community, these kinds of connections with surroundings and neighbors can help bridge the UNC campus to the greater Chapel Hill community.

 

Neighborhood health and safety benefits

Actively getting around a community also means actively taking part in it. That means acknowledging what we appreciate about a neighborhood, and, importantly, it also means spotting things that seem like they need attention—from a large crack in the sidewalk, to a stray dog, to a jogger who has fallen. This can lead to benefits in crime-reduction and generally making things safer.

 

Increases community norms around activity

Actively getting around campus and community is contagious. The more people you see walking around, the more likely you might be to walk around yourself! In this way, being an active commuter is a way of changing social norms around activity.

 

Resources

 These are just some of the community-wide benefits of actively getting around a community. Though we’ve focused on the benefits of actively getting around, it’s important to be safe while doing so. For more information on pedestrian and cyclist safety check out links at the UNC Department of Public Safety, and the Town of Chapel Hill.

5 Simple Steps to Promote Safe Travels Abroad

Traveling to developing areas of the world this summer, studying abroad next semester or considering a volunteer position in another county over break? Awesome!

Image

Image http://i2mag.com/how-to-quickly-and-cheaply-backpack-across-europe/

Start making preparations now to protect your health while you are away. If you are wondering how to prepare for your trip, Campus Health Services (CHS) International Travel Clinic is here to help! Follow the 5 simple steps below to get started.

Step 1: Visit the CHS International Travel Clinic Website here. The CHS International Travel Clinic website offers educational materials about maintaining health while traveling outside of the US. Some of the topics covered on the website include:

  • Drinking Water
  • Sanitation
  • Insect-borne Disease
  • Driving Conditions
  • Personal Security
  • Immunizations
  • Diarrhea
  • Food Borne Illness
  • Altitude Illness
  • Jet Lag
  • Malaria
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Heat Stroke
  • Yellow Fever
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Rabies
  • Insect Repellents
  • Sunscreen

Step 2: Download the Travel Questionnaire. You can visit the CHS Travel Clinic website or click here to access the questionnaire. With the information on the questionnaire, CHS staff can address topics specific to your destination, no matter where you are traveling. You will receive individualized recommendations to help you prepare for a safe and healthy trip.

Image

Image: http://www.neohealth.com.hk/en/images/travel-medicine.jpg

Complete, sign and return the questionnaire by noon Friday to be scheduled for a travel clinic the next week. This will allow CHS staff time to prepare destination specific recommendations. Be sure to plan ahead! Clinics fill up quickly in the weeks before spring break and at the end of the semester.

Step 3: Sign up for a Group International Travel Clinic class. Once CHS receives your questionnaire, reserve your spot by calling 919-966-6573 between 8:00am and 4:30pm M-F. Ideally you would want to attend a travel class several months before your trip. Class times during the spring semester include:

Wednesdays from 12:30-1:30pm & Thursdays from 2:00-3:00pm

If traveling with a group, we suggest attending the class together to make sure everyone is on the same page and ready to go. If you are unavailable during these class times, individual sessions can be scheduled – call 919-966-6573 for more info.

Step 4: Attend the Group International Travel Clinic class. You may not want to think about more class time prior to an exciting trip but we think it’s worth the time! This class offers an informal setting to talk with CHS medical staff and fellow travelers about your preparations. It is a great opportunity to make sure you haven’t forgotten something important on your travel checklist. Allow 2 hours when you attend the class because any immunizations needed for your trip can be given after the classroom portion is complete. If you can’t stay that long, you can schedule a separate appointment just for travel immunizations.

NOTE: There is a $50 fee for the class as well as a $25 “no-show” fee if you do not attend your scheduled class time or reschedule.

The travel clinic class covers a broad range of topics relating to points across the globe that might be outside of your destination. You might think this is strange but it is done for a specific reason. If traveling again even to a different destination, you will not retake the classroom portion of the clinic. CHS will provide recommendations and prescriptions for subsequent trips as long as you are still an eligible member of the UNC community for a reduced price of only $20. Just fill out a questionnaire for your new itinerary, turn it in and wait for the call that your travel packet is ready to pick up. This is a great deal!

Step 5: Fill and pick up your travel prescriptions at the CHS pharmacy. At the class, you will receive prescriptions for medications and vaccination recommendations based on your itinerary. If your prescription insurance information was available, these prescriptions have been filled downstairs in the CHS pharmacy. If not, bring the prescriptions down to the pharmacy and the staff will get them ready.

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The CHS pharmacists are very experienced with the medications and immunizations needed for travel across the globe. You will have a chance to meet briefly with the pharmacist to make sure your anti-malarial quantities are correct and to ask any other burning questions you might have. NOTE: There may be co-pays for your travel medications based on your prescription insurance. Be sure to visit the Healthy Heels Shoppe in the basement of CHS next to the pharmacy! They carry most items recommended in the Travel Clinic class and other items you may want to consider for your travel. You might be surprised by what you can find so come see us!

Check out the items typically stocked here in the Healthy Heels Shoppe!

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After completing these 5 simple steps, you will be ready to enjoy your trip. We hope you have a great time wherever your travels are taking you and look forward to seeing you back on campus safe and sound!

HAPPY TRAVELS!

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Image: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/85/88/33/858833d63a85af9907daf7e2f7ac073b.jpg

ERMAHGERD!! Extrer drergs!! (What to do with all those random extra pills you no longer need!)

Did you know that keeping those extra pain pills (or those antibiotics you ended up being allergic to, or those birth control pills you switched off of months ago) lying around isn’t exactly ideal? There are actually quite a few safety hazards related to unwanted/extra pharmaceuticals: drug abuse, poisoning, overdose, environmental problems…Plus you will likely want to clear out your medicine cabinet sooner or later, and may wonder the best way to dispose of these meds.

Ritalin
Ritalin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some tips for safely ridding yourself of those pesky extra pills:

› DON’T FLUSH unless they are on this list from the FDA:

Swimming Fish

 

 

 

 

› Trash ’em? OK…BUT

  • First, make any leftover pills as unappealing as possible – shake them out of the bottle and mix them with gross trash like rotting food, old wet coffee grounds, and/or dirty kitty litter.
  • Be sure they are not in a trash receptacle that is accessible to kids, pets, or
    wildlife to avoid unintentional poisoning. Even something as simple as a few iron pills can be fatal to small children if accidentally ingested.
  • Protect yourself: remove any and all identifying info from the bottle – this includes anything with the patient’s name, phone number, address, etc. – prior to recycling it (if possible) or throwing it away.

Look who got stuck in the garbage can...

›  Best bet? Bring them to your pharmacy for proper disposal (Call them first – not all pharmacies have the ability to take back your old prescription/non-prescription meds).

  • Sometimes the pharmacy will want the label left on, and sometimes they will have you tear the label off before dropping them off.  To be on the safe side, leave all labels on until/unless you’re told otherwise.
  • You can bring them to Campus Health Pharmacy any time during business hours.
  • *Due to DEA regulations, Campus Health Pharmacy is unable to accept controlled substances – however, look for specific events throughout the year for take-back of these items!*

› Bestest bet? Don’t forget community “drug take back” events!

  • Keep an eye out for these events, which are often sponsored by the local police department, hospital, or pharmacy.  These offer great opportunities to gather up all those old tubes, bottles, vials, jars, and boxes of meds you don’t need any longer and get rid of them all for good.
  • See disposemymeds for an easy way to find these events in your neck of the woods.
  • Come find Campus Health during the move-out events around campus at the end of the spring semesters – we’ll be here to collect up any meds you find under that 3 month old pile of dirty laundry you finally had to pick up in order to pack.

Now, go forth and clean out that medicine cabinet! And stay tuned for more medication safety tips…

Oregon Drug Take Back Event - Sept. 2010

50 Shades of Curious: Beginning a BDSM Conversation with Your Partner

BDSM is an acronym for bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism. BDSM activities can range from light slapping, to bondage, to intense use of sex toys and other tools. Despite what popular media may like us to believe, there are no significant differences in rates of psychopathology, depression, anxiety, OCD, and psychological sadism and masochism between folks who practice BDSM sex play and those who don’t (Connoly 2006). In essence, folks who practice BDSM are not violent, they aren’t “crazy”, and their BDSM practices don’t leave them psychological troubled. According to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, approximately 18-20% of folks have been blindfolded during sex, 30-32% of folks have tied someone up or been tied up during sex, and 38-50% of folks have been spanked during sexual activity.

Knowing that so many folks engage in BDSM, and that it doesn’t have to include being locked up in a basement dungeon…are you thinking you may be interested?

talk first, then play
talk first, then play

Communication is the first step to exploring BDSM with a partner. Be clear about what you want, what you’re open to exploring, and what your limits are. It’s also important to keep in mind that your sex partner(s) may be exploring BDSM for the first time, or they may have previous experience.

Just as you would like your sex partner to do for you, it’s important to:

  • be respectful of your partner’s limits
  • be willing to explore their desires
  • not criticize, ridicule, or poke fun at their sex play interests
  • uphold agreements and privacy

There are helpful worksheets  and checklists you can print out to get the conversation started, which list a range of light to intense BDSM activities and provide space for you and your partner to voice whether you think each sounds super-hot, is something you’re up for discussing, or is something that is off-limits.

ready to explore?
ready to explore?

The urge to engage in or explore consensual BDSM may be confusing for some folks, especially those who identify as feminists, whose ancestors have historically been enslaved or beaten, or folks who have experienced sexual assault or relationship abuse in the past. For more dialogue on the reconciliation between BDSM play and feminism, check out feminist sex and relationship columnist Jessica Wakeman’s articles First Time for Everything and Slap Happy and Sylvia Fox’s article Reconciling Feminism with an Interest in BDSM which can be purchased online or in print.

thumb.phpBeing a survivor of interpersonal violence who is interested in BDSM does not necessarily mean you have not healed from your experience.  Abuse and assault are not about sex, they’re about power and control. BDSM is about the consensual play of dominant and submissive sexual relationships and mutual arousal resulting from these activities.  Just as a survivor of interpersonal violence can maintain or regain interest in sex after being assaulted or abused, they can also regain or become interested in consensual BDSM.

Here are some red flags that a BSDM sex partner may in fact be abusive:

  • Ignoring safe words
  • Not respecting your limits, negotiations, agreements, or contracts
  • Pushing you into a D/S relationship too quickly
  • Belittling your ideas or suggestions for sex play
  • ONLY interacting with you in a kinky or sexual manner as if they are always role-playing
  • Threatening or coercing you into engaging in submission or BDSM activities outside of your comfort zone

Check out the books The Loving Dominant (Warren & Warren, 2008) and The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge (Taramino, 2012) if you’re interested in learning more about BDSM practices and the BDSM community.

If you’re concerned you or someone you know may be being coerced, pressured, or forced into engaging in sexual activities they’re not ready for or aren’t interested in, check out the information and resources at safe.unc.edu or the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

                                                          References
Connoly, P. (2006). Psychological functioning of bondage/domination/sado-masochism practitioners. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 18(1).

4 Things You Need to Know on Halloween

Ahh, Halloween. As a kid, it was a time to prepare a costume, carve a pumpkin, gather with friends and family, and have a wholesome night of fun dedicated to obtaining and consuming too much candy. For adults, Halloween is still about consuming too much. But for some, it’s alcohol causing the tummy aches.

There are many ways to celebrate Halloween without alcohol present: Have a costume competition with some friends, bake up some tasty Halloween-themed treats, have a scary movie marathon, or plot an elaborate way to scare the crap out of your roommate. But if you choose to have an adult beverage to celebrate Halloween this evening, make sure you do these 4 easy things to stay safe and avoid tummy aches.

  1. Eat a meal before you start drinking, and make sure you have plenty of water before and during drinking. Eating a meal beforehand helps slow down the effects of alcohol and will allow you to make safer decisions all night. And alcohol is a diuretic, which means it dehydrates you, so it is important to drink water all night. Also, switching between non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages is a good way to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
  2. Know how much you are drinking. Don’t drink from communal punch bowls, trashcans, etc. as you have no way of knowing how much alcohol is in there and how it will affect you. Also, the taste of the alcohol is easily masked, so don’t rely on how strong the punch tastes. Taking back control over how much alcohol you are consuming by making your own drinks.
  3. Use the buddy system. Don’t be afraid to speak up or take action if there is something going on that you or your friends are uncomfortable with. Everyone is entitled to having a good time on Halloween, and that starts with feeling safe. Keeping an eye on each other can help get you there.
  4. Have an exit strategy. Some of the most dangerous situations arise late in the night, when people have had too much alcohol to make good decisions. Set a limit for yourself ahead of time, because it’s hard to know when to stop once you have started. So decide ahead of time when you are heading home, and have plans in place to get home safe. Obviously, don’t get into a car when the driver has been drinking. Have a way to get a cab, take a bus, or call a sober friend as a backup.

With these things in mind, have a happy, healthy, safe Halloween!

Your Guide to Alcohol and the Law

Getting an alcohol citation can be expensive, embarrassing, and very frustrating.   Many students can minimize their risk of getting a drinking ticket by becoming informed.   So, before you make any decisions about purchasing or drinking alcohol, make sure you know the law; know the consequences; and know your rights.

Know the Law:  

It is ILLEGAL to….

  • Purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol if you are under 21.  This includes attempting to order a drink at a bar or purchasing beer at a grocery store
  • Possess alcohol if you are under 21.  This includes alcohol found in your vehicle or in your hands as you walk down the street, even if it is unopened.   An underage person suspected to be under the influence of alcohol (smells like alcohol, holding an empty Solocup that smells like alcohol, visibly intoxicated, etc) can be charged with underage possession.
  • Use a Fake ID to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol or to enter an over 21 drinking establishment.  Using a Fake ID to get into a bar can still result in a citation even if no alcoholic drinks are purchased or consumed.
  • Purchase alcohol for an underage friend.
  • Drink and Drive.  If you are 21 and over, this means having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08. It is also illegal to consume alcohol while driving or to have any alcohol in your system when there is an unsealed alcohol container in the passenger seat.   If you are under 21, you can get a DUI for having any alcohol in your system.
  • Possess an open container of alcohol in any publicly owned area, such as streets, sidewalks, municipal parking lots, public parks, playgrounds, recreational fields, tennis courts, athletic fields, and in any buildings owned by the town.  This law applies to people 21 and over.  If you are under 21, you will be charged with underage possession.  

Know the consequences

Typical consequences for the above offenses include a misdemeanor charge, fines, and court costs.  Additionally, many students are required to complete an 6-week alcohol education class as well as a 1-on-1 alcohol assessment.  A DUI results in a 1-year revocation of your Driver’s License for the first offense.  Depending on the situation, a student may also face imprisonment.   UNC Dean of Students has their own set of consequences for students that may include academic and/or housing probation.

Know your rights

If you are stopped by the police, here’s some helpful advice from UNC Legal Services…..

  1. You are not required to answer questions. You can choose to remain silent. Think “UNC”: “Uh, No Comment.”
  2. If police request to search your person or belongings, and you do not wish to be searched, you may say, “I do not consent to a search.”
  3. If the officer proceeds to search you or your belongings, such as your wallet, backpack, or car, do not resist.  If you do not consent to the search, simply say, “I do not consent to a search.” (If the search is unlawful, it can be suppressed in court.)
  4. If an officer asks for your identification, do not present a fake ID.  If you present proper identification and an officer asks to see your wallet to check if you have a fake ID, you can refuse.  After refusing, you may then ask, “Officer, am I free to go?”
  5. You are not required to submit to a breathalyzer unless you are driving a car.  If you are a passenger in a vehicle, you may refuse a breathalyzer without legal consequences unless you are underage and visibly intoxicated.  If you are approached on the street (e.g. walking home or outside a party), you may refuse a breathalyzer without legal consequences.  After refusing, you may then ask, “Officer, am I free to go?”
  6. NEVER physically resist a police officer.  Simply remain silent and remain calm.
  7. If you are arrested, state clearly for the officer, “I am going to remain silent.” Then remain silent.

Some additional things to keep in mind if you are stopped while driving….

  1. YOU MUST display your driver’s license upon an officer’s request.
  2. YOU MUST write your name (for the purpose of identification) upon an officer’s request and provide your name and address (and the name and address of the auto’s owner).
  3. If the officer pulls you over while driving, you must submit to a breathalyzer test or your license will be revoked. You do have the right to contact an attorney for advice.
  4. You may be asked to perform dexterity tests, but you are not required to do so.  There are no formal legal penalties for refusing to do so.

For more information:

UNC Legal Services http://www.unc.edu/student/orgs/sls/legal:alcohol

Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) https://www.nccrimecontrol.org/Index2.cfm?a=000003,000005,000272,000274