How to Stay Safe at Social Gatherings in College

  • Social gatherings, such as college parties, let you unwind and have fun but also carry some risks you should consider. 
  • Drinking and drug use shouldn’t be taken lightly, as such behavior can result in negative outcomes.
  • Sexual assault is unfortunately common on college campuses, so you should always be aware of your surroundings. 
  • Anyone can be a victim of violence – you shouldn’t feel ashamed and should always seek help if you or someone you know has been assaulted.
  • Practice social distancing, wear a mask, and maintain good hand hygiene, as COVID-19 still isn’t over.

As a college student, social gatherings are ideal for connecting with others, building relationships, and making lasting memories. We can all agree that after a long week of responsibilities, having fun and blowing off some steam is much needed.

However, as exciting as social gatherings can be, it’s important to acknowledge that they can also come with risks. Along with the potential for alcohol and drug abuse, social gatherings can also create an opportunity for COVID-19 transmission.

While balancing school and socializing is important, safety should always come first. That said, let’s look at the most common risks associated with social gatherings, along with some practical steps to stay safe when attending college parties.

Risks Associated With Social Gatherings

Social gatherings can unfold in many ways depending on the occasion, place, and people involved. By examining the risks associated with social gatherings, we can timely warn prospective students about the consequences that may result from engaging in disruptive behavior.

Drinking and drug use

drug use and prohibited substance

Partying is a very big part of campus life. Students organize all types of parties, from small get-togethers like college dorm parties or large events such as frat parties or even a college party cruise, which often carry the risk of binge college drinking and drug use.

While the phrase ‘’a little alcohol never hurt nobody’’ might sound harmless to you, excessive drinking and drug use can lead to a wide range of negative outcomes. Sadly, the number of college students who binge drink is quite high.

Keep in mind that excessive alcohol and drug use can affect your judgment. Firstly, it can impact your memory and decision-making, resulting in poor academic performance. Secondly, alcohol and drug abuse can cause you to drive under the influence and engage in unprotected sex.

Sexual assault

Unfortunately, excessive consumption is often the reason behind sexual assault on campus. It’s important to note that the majority of such assaults aren’t even reported to authorities, leading victims to cope with serious physical and emotional consequences on their own.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, college-age students are more likely to experience sexual assault than non-students of the same age. The numbers are terrifying, especially when we think of college as a place where students pursue their academic goals and socialize without being exposed to such a heinous crime.

While universities are responsible for taking preventive measures, we’re accountable for our own actions and their consequences. That’s why you should always take timely precautions when attending a college party and seek professional help if you or some of your peers have been victims of assault.

Violence and Fights 

Witnessing violence and fighting on campus isn’t a pleasant sight and creates an unsafe and threatening environment. Remember that conflicts are a part of everyday life, but violence is never the answer. No parent wants their kid to engage in such violent activities or be anywhere close.

Several factors can lead to violence and fighting on campus, but abusive alcohol and drug use are the main culprit behind it. While alcohol can enhance certain emotions, such as love and happiness, it can also trigger anger and rage in some individuals.

The consequences of such incidents might be severe, including physical harm, property damage, legal consequences, and even emotional trauma to those involved. That’s why preventing violence in college is of the utmost importance.

COVID-19 Transmission

Regardless of the type of party – whether it’s a small or large gathering or hosted on or off-campus, the risk of transmitting infectious diseases always persists. Wearing masks can sometimes become inconvenient and tedious, but as the Dutch philosopher Desierius Erasmus once said, ‘’Prevention is better than cure’’.

While it’s only natural to get a bit carried away at a college party after being quarantined for so long, it’s important to acknowledge the significant harm caused by COVID-19. It’s not just your well-being at stake, but the lives of your close ones as well.

Strategies for Staying Safe at Social Gatherings

Social gatherings, including different types of parties, don’t need to be a cause for concern if you take the necessary measures to keep yourself and others safe. Next, we’ll take a look at several strategies you can consider to stay safe at social gatherings.

Setting Boundaries

When it comes to social gatherings, you should always prioritize your well-being and safety. One strategy to help you achieve this is to set some boundaries for yourself. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Know Your Limits. You’re your own unique person, and you shouldn’t fall under other people’s influences. While one individual might find something interesting, it doesn’t mean you should do too. That’s why, before attending an event, take some time to consider what you’re comfortable with.
  • Say “No” When Necessary. Saying ‘’no’’ is an important part of setting boundaries for yourself. It might be challenging, as college students often feel the need to satisfy others and are scared they might be left out. However, saying ‘’no’’ should be praised because it promotes self-awareness and self-care.

Staying Aware of Your Surroundings

group of friends having a toast

Staying aware of your surroundings plays a huge role in personal safety, especially at a college dorm party. There are two particular strategies that you might find useful in this regard:

  • Keeping an Eye on Your Drink. Unfortunately, many cases have been reported where predators poured drugs into another person’s drink. The reason behind such actions is almost always criminal, as drugs can make a person unconscious or unable to resist, making them vulnerable to sexual assault or robbery.

Even such a small mistake can lead to serious consequences, so you should never leave your drink unattended at college parties.

  • Staying With Trusted Friends. Social gatherings at college can often turn out to be chaotic and unpredictable. As much as you’d like to attend, never go there without at least one person you trust.

Planning Ahead

As a college student, you might feel the urge to be spontaneous and be guided by the phrase ‘’you live only once’’. However, this kind of approach carries a lot of potential risks and should be avoided at any cost. Let’s take a look at some tips you can follow to successfully plan your attendance at a social gathering.

  • Designating a Driver or Using Rideshare Services. The biggest mistake you can make is driving or getting in the car with someone who’s under the influence. If you’re planning on attending a college party where alcohol is served, designate a sober driver in advance or consider a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft.
  • Bringing Your Own Drinks or Snacks. By bringing your own drinks or snacks, you’re minimizing the exposure to germs and ensuring you’re consuming alcohol or eating chips that haven’t been tampered with.

Resources Available for Staying Safe at Social Gatherings

Prospective students would usually learn about the school’s history, observe different classes, and visit libraries and dining facilities. However, they are rarely interested in information regarding the resources available for staying safe at social gatherings such as different parties. As far as these go, we can divide them into campus and community resources.

Campus Resources

College campuses offer a variety of resources to help students feel safe and secure at their schools. We’ll take a look at the options available, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to consider this and use them to your advantage.

  • Campus Police. Campus police officers are trained and certified to maintain safety and security on colleges and campuses. They have the same authority as other police officers, meaning they have every right to make an arrest and investigate crimes. They’re your best choice if you have an incident or an emergency to report while on campus.
  • Student Health Center. Your physical and mental health is important, and you should nurture it as such. Thankfully, you have the student health center available on campus to address any medical emergency or provide you with counseling and therapy in case of anxiety or depression.

Community Resources

In addition to the above-listed campus resources, it’s good to know you also have community resources available to turn to for support and assistance. These include:

  • Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline. Sexual assault isn’t a joke and poses a serious threat to college students. Many sexual assault cases have been reported at college dorm parties, which is a tragedy indeed.

If you or someone else has been a victim of sexual assault, don’t hesitate to call the sexual assault crisis hotline, as such traumatic experiences leave long-lasting physical and emotional effects such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD.

  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers. It’s hard acknowledging that a peer of yours might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, but it’s even harder facing the truth when you’re the person in question.

However, addiction is defined as a disease by many medical associations, and it’s time we take this issue seriously. If you or a college student is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, make sure to seek help from substance abuse treatment centers, as they offer a range of services to help you overcome addiction.

COVID-19 Safety Measures for Social Gatherings

COVID-19 has forever changed the way we’re socializing. Ever since the first cases were reported in December 2019, COVID-19 has awakened fear in people concerning their and the well-being of their closest ones. As it was announced, the virus affected older adults more severely, which is probably why many young people didn’t take it seriously enough.

Despite the known risks and recommendations to avoid social gatherings, many people continued to hold college parties. The pandemic may be over, but COVID-19 will most likely be a threat to us for years. Here are some safety measures for social gatherings, so you can keep yourself and your peers safe at college.

Social Distancing

Try practicing social distancing at school as much as you can, as it can prevent transmission. Completely avoiding contact with people in college is impossible and not even recommendable, but limiting close contact and avoiding large gatherings is totally doable.

Wearing Masks

college students wearing face masks

I agree that masks are uncomfortable, but they have proven to be effective when it comes to virus transmission. Not only that, but masks can also protect you from air pollution, as well as other airborne particles. You don’t have to wear it all the time, but at least try it if you’re feeling any COVID-19-related symptoms or you have been in contact with someone who has.

Hand Hygiene 

College parties tend to get crowded, and attendants often forget to do some basic stuff, such as maintaining good hand hygiene. This is an important measure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Washing your hands and covering your mouth or nose with a tissue will take only a minute of your time but can protect you for a lifetime.


As a college student, you will likely attend a social gathering. In fact, it’s an inevitable experience. However, amidst the fun and excitement, you can easily forget to keep an eye on your surroundings and set boundaries, which can later result in serious consequences.

One thing is sure, though, college parties will always be a thing. It’s not even surprising, as they allow you to release tension and socialize. You can party as much as you want; just prioritize your well-being and safety. From guarding your drink to maintaining good hand hygiene, there are various strategies you can follow to stay safe on campus.

Remember that you’re your own unique person, and you should always take the time to make your own choice and an informed decision. At the end of the day, your decisions and your health depend on you!

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