The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday October 21st

A first-year's guide to going out and staying safe

Alcohol bottles and cans litter a table after a birthday party in Chapel Hill in August 2018.
Buy Photos Alcohol bottles and cans litter a table after a birthday party in Chapel Hill in August 2018.

School is starting again, which means exciting classes, hanging out with friends, decorating dorm rooms and back to school parties all weekend. For first-years, the idea of their first college party can be both very exciting and a little intimidating — but no matter what year you are at UNC, knowing the resources to help safely navigate the party scene is very important. 

To start, the Chapel Hill Police Department has a continuing initiative called “Party, Police Free,” where students can register their parties with the department and give the police a heads up. 

“Our goal is always to keep everyone safe.” Chapel Hill Police Chief and Executive Director for Community Safety, Chris Blue, said in a statement.  

Another program intended to protect students after parties is SafeWalk. Between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., students can call SafeWalk at (919) 962-SAFE to request a walk home from anywhere on-campus and some areas off-campus. 

SafeWalk is completely free for any person who is affiliated with the University. The goal of SafeWalk is to make walking in the night safer for everyone — so whether a student is studying late in the library for a test or nervous about walking home alone from a party for the first time, SafeWalk is there to assist every student. 

“Being a first-year is pretty exciting, and it is a good time to try new things, but sometimes you have to look out for yourself and your friends," Nick Lovely, the incoming director for SafeWalk, said. "If you are in an unfamiliar environment, you need to pay more attention to make yourself comfortable there." 

Another way for students to learn how to navigate their first weekends back to school is to listen to students who have been here for a couple of years and know how to safely pilot the weekends on campus. 

“Know your limits and never feel like you have to keep up with someone else," junior Charley Gowland said. "And be comfortable with yourself.” 

Since joining Greek life can involve first-time drinking, Maren Garner, a student and member of Phi Mu Fraternity, said members of Greek life should try to stick together. 

“Being around so many other girls in a sorority, I’ve learned how important it is to take care of each other,” Garner said.  

No matter what you have planned for your first couple of weekends here at UNC — whether that be staying out late to study, hanging out with friends or going out to parties — there are resources here on campus and other students willing to help you out. Stay safe, UNC. 

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