As a junior here at Binghamton, I can say that I have spent a great deal of time in our downtown area. Not only do I live there, but I go to frat parties, bars and restaurants all the time. While these memories are fantastic there are some unspoken concerns about downtown party life at BU. I like to pretend that I am fearless and not intimated by anything, but the truth is I sometimes still get scared going out, especially after the recent incidents with some popular restaurants last semester. To sate these fears and keep ourselves safe, especially with newer Binghamton students, it’s important to follow some rules about going out.
Do plan ahead
While spontaneous trips out are fun, it’s important to always have a plan and make sure someone knows where you are going. If you live on campus, make sure someone who isn’t going out has your Uber tracking location and a general idea of where you are heading. Also, make sure you have a set way to get home and don’t deviate from it. If you are planning on making the 1 am bus back to the dorms, make sure you are on the bus line at 12:55. If you live downtown, make sure you know where you are walking and make sure someone who isn’t going out knows where you are going and how to get you home if there is an emergency.
Don’t go out alone
I understand that sometimes you are the only one in your group that wants to go out that night. But going out alone is not better than not going out at all. The girls you meet on the line for the Rat may be fun, but they aren’t going to be able to get you home at the end of the night. Not to mention that it’s been proven time and time again that there is safety in numbers. Sadly, women are much easier targets if they are walking alone, especially on the dark streets of Binghamton. If you are out, don’t wander off by yourself and if one person wants to leave, you all go with them. Staying together means staying safe.
Do get a “Fracket”
Every time I see that it’s -2 degrees out here in Bing, a part of me wishes I had chosen a different state to go to college in. But I do love it here, and the cold weather is a part of the charm. So is going out in cute but thin outfits. Unfortunately, frostbite and hypothermia are real, even on the line for Tom and Marty’s and while walking to a fraternity. While bringing your nice parka to a gross basement may not be an option, investing in a few cheap jackets, or “Frackets”, to keep you warm during the freezing winters is important. These will get gross and have weird unwashable substances on them by the end of the yearly frost, but at least you won’t have blue fingers.
Don’t leave your drinks unattended
I know you’ve probably been hearing this warning for years, but it’s still very true. According to the American Psychological Association, multiple studies of U.S. college students found that the percentage of spiked drinks is higher than most people think. I am sad to say that I have heard more than a few stories of individuals getting unknowingly drugged at bars, fraternities or restaurants. If you put your drink down, don’t pick it up again. While you are walking with your cup, make sure your hand is covering the top. Don’t let anyone else hold your drink. Don’t let anyone else pour your drink for you. You may seem a little overprotective, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Do be aware of your surroundings
Again, I know you’ve been hearing this one since you were allowed to go out of the house by yourself, but it’s still applicable. Sometimes, individuals who are drunk or high act in a way that is not safe for those around them. Look for people acting especially rowdy or violent, and stay away from them! If you see a fight that’s about to break out, grab your friends and leave. If the groups around you start to act strange, don’t stick around. Trust your instincts because if something feels off to you, it probably is.
Don’t be afraid to be rude
One thing many of us are taught at an early age is that “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This proverb means that people respond better to politeness than to rudeness. Do not take this to heart when you are feeling unsafe. Women are taken advantage of all the time because of their politeness. Ted Bundy kidnapped and murdered women by playing into their willingness to help him while faking an injury. Don’t become another statistic just because you want to be nice. I’d rather be called rude and be alive than try to be kind and end up dead. Protect yourself and your friends first.
Do respect people’s property
Whether it is a fraternity house, a bar or just a random street, please remember to respect others’ property. Sure, fraternity houses may be gross, but people still live there. Don’t trash their rooms or steal their things. While the bars and restaurants downtown cater to college students, they are still establishments. Don’t deface their bathrooms or smash their glasses. Act classy and fun, not destructive or messy. These rules continue to the streets of Binghamton. While we may see it as our fun college town, people and families do live here. Don’t steal things from the front of houses, or damage personal property. It’s not cute and you could get in serious trouble. Being drunk isn’t an excuse that will fly in court.
Don’t go off with strangers
While going off with random people when out may seem fun, it can be unsafe. Whether they are inviting you to their apartment while meeting them in a bar or asking you to come upstairs to their room while in their frat basement, it means losing control of a situation. If either of you are drunk or you have only met a few minutes ago, do not leave with them. You don’t know their intentions and you can’t consent to anything while plastered. Get their Snapchat and talk about meeting up when sober. If one of your friends is going off with someone and you feel like they can’t make decisions in the state they are in, do not let them go. They may get mad at you at the time, but they will forgive you. Being a good friend means sometimes being the bad guy when it comes to protecting them.
Do eat something before drinking
While this may seem like common sense, you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen people blackout or get sick because they only drank a Dunkin vanilla cold brew before going out. Even if you don’t plan on drinking that much, make sure you have a solid meal in your stomach. The “I want to have a flat stomach for pictures” line is not a valid excuse and is very dangerous. You are more likely to get alcohol poisoning if you drink on an empty stomach, and getting your stomach pumped will ruin the rest of your weekend.
Don’t be afraid to get help
If you see someone who is not looking good, please help them! Alcohol poisoning is very real and can kill. Some common symptoms are confusion, slow or irregular breathing, vomiting, blue or pale skin, unconsciousness, seizures and slurred speech. If you suspect it, call Harpur’s Ferry! They are a free ambulance service on campus that serves all students here at Binghamton. If you are at a fraternity and they ask you not to call for help, don’t listen and don’t go to that house anymore. Relations aren’t worth your friends’ lives. Good Samaritan laws protect you from getting in trouble if someone underage goes to the hospital while intoxicated, so don’t be scared of reporting.
Do have fun
While all of this seems intimidating, remember that as long as you and your friends are safe, you can have as much fun as you want. Going out downtown will be some of your most amazing memories here at Bing, so don’t shrink away from it. Make good decisions. Have fun and be safe.