Straight Up Having a Good Time: How to Navigate College Parties Safely


When we arrive at college we are suddenly surrounded by a plethora of new opportunities, experiences, and choices. We are thrown into the adult world head first, with little to no guidance in the social sphere. We find ourselves asking new burning questions, especially as a woman. Should I drive to the party or take an Uber? Is that frat going to have a rapey vibe? Is it safe to walk on that street at night?

At first it may be a bit overwhelming, but have no fear! Here is a compilation of wisdom from several upperclassmen that can help you have fun and get home safe.


Should I go to the party?

Whether they are just lame or super dangerous, there are plenty of parties you will want to avoid. When deciding if you’re going to attend consider a few variables:

  • Where the party is located

  • Who is going to be there

  • How big of a party it will be

College affiliated parties are typically on or near a campus and will be in a well lit area with security presence and will probably have some public parking around. If you are going to a different type of venue, like an eighteen and up night club, do some research on the area, some of them are a little bit scary especially if you didn’t grow up in a big city. You can find out a lot about an area by checking what type of businesses are around it on google maps. If all you see nearby are vape shops and strip clubs maybe it’s not the best area. The bigger and roudier a party is the more likely it is to get shut down by police which probably isn’t something you want to be there for. Also, the "top tier" frats don't usually let guys in at all and typically are going to be discriminative about which girls can enter. At some of the biggest frats at Tech you have to know someone to get in. Most just let in those who they deem "hot" which is usually directly correlated to how much skin you're showing. That doesn't mean you can't have fun at big parties, but be prepared for it to be sweaty, crowded and have a five girls to one guy ratio.


Should I take an Uber?

Whether or not you plan to be consuming alcohol, it’s probably a good idea to either use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft or catch a ride with a group of friends. Parking in downtown Atlanta can be expensive and hard to find especially if you’re going to a random house on frat row. No matter how you get there never ride to a party alone, it’s safer, cheaper, better for the environment, and a lot cooler since you’ll have an entourage. If you Uber always remember to look at the driver’s name and picture and the make and model of the car before you step inside. If they don’t match, don’t get in, if you report it Uber will refund you. Always ask “who are you picking up?” not “are you ___?” to confirm you have the right driver.

Even if none of your friends drove there, it’s a good idea for one of you to stay sober to make sure everyone is alright and can get home, a designated thinker if you will. If you are turning up at a friend’s place ask if you can spend the night. Sleeping on a couch is a lot better than dying in a car wreck.


What’s Safe to Drink?

Everyone knows it’s unrealistic to assume no one underage will ever drink in college, I mean I’m sure everyone reading this follows the law like perfect angels, but regardless this is good stuff to know, for the future. If you go to a large frat party at Georgia Tech or Emory it will be regulated and they may card you for alcohol. The drinks are all going to be in sealed containers, usually beer or White Claw, usually guaranteed safe. Smaller parties, especially at apartments or houses, aren’t following the same rules. This is where you will find some pretty bizarre concoctions from artisan cocktails to Nupe Juice. You’ve probably been told to flat out stay the fuck away, which isn’t a bad way to go about it, but again isn’t realistic. If you’re going to drink it bear in mind it’s unlikely it’s a standard drink and check for major red flags:

  • You didn’t see the drink being made

  • You don’t know what the cocktail is made of

  • The people hosting the party aren’t drinking it

  • This drink is only being offered to you

  • You’re being pressured to drink more or faster

  • If it’s in an open bowl (not only could someone easily spike the punch bowl, it’s not unheard of for frat guys pee in it for laughs which is repulsive)

These are just a couple of things to look out for. If you have a bad feeling for any reason go with your gut. Never leave your drink sitting around at a party, even if you trust the people there and it has your name on it. If there was an opportunity for someone to drug it or add alcohol, no matter how unlikely you think that is, just throw it away and get a new one. 


Can I Play Drinking Games?

Always remember that you know your limit better than anybody else and only you know how you feel. There is a way to play drinking games safely: drink at your own pace. If you’re playing pong you can suggest filling the cups with water and having your drink to the side. If a ball lands in a water cup then you take a sip of your personal drink, which may or may not even be alcoholic. This way makes less of a mess, wastes less beer, and ensures no one is being forced to drink more than they want.

Most of the time no one is going to try to force you to drink their alcohol, that shit's expensive, but sometimes peer pressure is very real. It sucks to feel left out or like a party pooper. You may really want to play a fun game with your friends but can’t keep up with their drinking or simply don’t want to drink that much. Don’t worry, you can still join in the fun, you can cheat. Cheating in beer pong is very easy, you can either fill the cups on your side much lower or use a weaker beverage. When you have to drink you can take it quickly to your face and messily spill a little out on the floor (okay don’t do this on your friend’s carpet that’s just rude). You can leave an inch of drink in the cup when you put it in the discard stack, just keep stacking, no one will notice honestly.  If you are playing any type of game that involves shots just keep multiple cups in front of you at all times to confuse your competitors. Don’t be ashamed to pretend to take a sip. Only ever poor a half shot in your cup. Did you take a shot? Did you drink some water? Is your cup actually empty? No one knows but you.


Can I trust this guy?

In general, when you're out and intoxicated trust no one but your closest friends. Just because a guy has been an acquaintance of yours for five years does not mean he wouldn’t hurt you, seriously. That doesn’t mean you have to live your life being afraid of everyone, but you should keep an eye out for a few basic warning signs. Is he:

  • Following you room to room

  • Questioning you about how much you’ve had to drink

  • Saying you need to drink more/haven’t had enough/"seem too sober”

  • Finding excuses to touch you (places hand on your back walking around you, grabs your full hand every time he hands you the ball while being your partner in beer pong, sits super super close to you on the couch and puts his arm along the back of it, ect.)

  • Trying to dance against you without asking

  • Continually flirting even though they are in a relationship

  • Trying to argue his way into sex with you (no is never a debate)

If he is guilty of these behaviors he might be a jackass. If a guy flat out won’t take a hint and back off you can A) Make a scene and loudly insult him B) Get a friend to threaten to beat him up C) Surround yourself with your coven of powerful bitches majorly throwing off his game and intimidating him or D) Dump a full drink on his head stunning him while you escape. Don't worry about seeming rude, he deserves it, you however don't deserve to feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

If you feel threatened by anyone at a party tell your friends. If things escalate and you feel unsafe, leave. If you’re at a frat you can talk to any friends who are members, or to the school, and they will be punished for acting inappropriately to you. If someone tries to hurt you, states their plan to hurt you, or does hurt you then you should call the police, even if you were drinking. It does not matter what you are wearing, how you are dancing, or how drunk you are, that does not give anyone the right to act innapropriately to you and it's unacceptable.


I want to leave now.

Maybe a guy won’t stop mansplaining, maybe someone has been following you all night making you uncomfortable, or maybe you feel super sick. If are straight up not having a good time and you suddenly want to go home like now, tell your friends and go. If you are taking an Uber get a friend to go with you. If you have no way home call a friend, a roommate, significant other, or even a family member (they care more about you being safe than if you had a drink or not) to pick you up. 


My friend wants to stay out longer than me, can I leave them?

Inevitably your group is going to get split up. You can still look out for your friends without being there and make sure someone’s got your back. It’s a good idea to share your location with at least one close friend while you are out or even use the Life 360 app. Let someone know exactly where you are going and when you expect to be back by. If you are going to stay out later than expected let them know. If you are going somewhere other than home after a party tell someone where and who you are going with.


Ultimately the decisions you make about when and where you go out our yours. No one else is responsible to make sure you are safe. Don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with or ready for. Going to parties can be a fun and rewarding college experience, but it isn’t for everyone and that’s okay.