Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Safe Spring Break

For most major universities, spring break is coming up next week.  Yesterday I helped hand out Safe Spring Break gift bags outside the dining hall at Chatham University and I thought that writing out some tips for how to enjoy your break without catastrophe would be beneficial.  I won't personally be doing anything too fascinating for spring break--except playing the Super Tuesday drinking game--but the rest of you may be and I'm sure you want to return to classes in one piece.

First of all, safe sex is important!  It's not just important to use contraception to prevent pregnancy-though no one wants to say their kids fifteen years down the line that they were conceived on spring break, I'm sure--but also to prevent STIs.  Especially with sexually transmitted infections like HPV and drug-resistent gonorrhea floating around, you can never be too careful.  Use condoms!  They make them for both men and women.  Hormonal birth control methods do not prevent the spread of STIs, so make sure you're using one of the barrier methods.

As far as alcohol goes, enjoy drinking!  It's fun, it really is.  But what isn't fun is ending up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.  Know your limits.  Absolutely do not drink and drive--you could kill yourself and anyone else who happens to be on the same road as you, and DUIs are not fun in any case.  And for those nasty hangovers?  Greasy breakfast food.  Also, I have a bottle of cake-flavored vodka that I got for my birthday if any of you want to take it off my hands.

And now, the biggest warning of all.  I am absolutely not going to say "Don't go out alone or you'll get raped!" or "Don't dress that way because you'll get raped!" or "Don't drink because you'll get raped!"  That's ridiculous and just untrue--women get raped in a variety of situations that have nothing to do with who's with them, what they're wearing, and what they're doing. Just a few things to remember: Don't set your drink down and go back to it or let someone else pour your drink (in case it's been drugged).  Remember that the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by people who know their victims, not the dark-back-alley violent image we usually get.  Also, if you feel you have been raped, call 911 or go to the hospital immediately.  You will be able to get a rape kit faster and take the morning-after pill faster if you choose to, thus significantly increasing its chances of effectiveness at preventing pregnancy.  And remember that there are a lot of resources out there to help you get through initial--and continuing--recovery.

If you're going somewhere warm this spring break, wear sunscreen. 

And, once again, have fun.  That's really the important thing.  But ending up in the hospital or a police station or with really bad sunburn doesn't tend to be very fun.  And really, if you want this cake vodka, all you have to do is ask. 

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