Spring break advice for college students: Don't get yourself raped

Posted at 12:00 PM Mar 09, 2010

By Andrea Grimes

Students from Texas Wesleyan University are no doubt gearing up to head down to Padre this week for Spring Break, wherein I suspect a good portion of them intend to drink a lot of alcohol and have a lot of sex. Shh, don't tell the T-Wes spring break safety e-mail, which a Doll friend sent along this morning, summing it up thusly: "Wear sunscreen, and don't get raped." It's unintentionally funny and vaguely victim-blaming:
Let's break it down by section. First, there's the part about how you're Murkan and all, and surprise! it might piss some people off:

Traveling Abroad

  • Know the laws of the place you are traveling. They WILL be enforced.
  • Be sure to have adequate medical insurance that covers foreign travel. Does your plan include medical evacuation coverage?
  • Investigate available resources on safety. Check Web sites of the U.S. Department of State for travel warnings, embassies abroad, traveler's health Web sites, Federal Aviation Authorities, etc.
  • Learn to blend in while visiting a foreign country. Students need to maintain a low profile during these turbulent times.
"They WILL be enforced" sounds a lot like "Don't MAKE me pull this car over!" no? Also, learn to blend in. Which, for most kids, means passing out face-down on a beach somewhere. And please leave the fanny packs and white tennis shoes at home. Unless you're being ironic. Do they have irony in other countries?

Next up, it's the "Don't become Natalee Holloway" section. Because really, people, Nancy Grace has enough to worry about.

Personal Safety

  • Leave contact information for where you will be traveling with family and friends back home.
  • Prepare a list of emergency contacts, including how to reach mom and dad in case you are in an accident and your local bank and credit card company in case your credit cards or traveler's checks are stolen. Upon arrival at your destination, make sure you know how to contact the local police and hospitals - 911 does not always work in other countries.
  • Bring a safety kit containing prescription medications, aspirin, bandages, condoms, etc.
  • Be responsible for your friends and use the buddy system. Stay with at least one friend at all times. If you go somewhere with a friend, leave with that friend.
  • Do not give your lodging information out to strangers.
  • Do not bring strangers back to your room, and do not give out any personal information about yourself or those you are with.
  • Never accept a ride from someone you do not know.
  • Only leave a public establishment or party with someone you know personally and with whom you feel totally safe.   
  • Never leave a friend at a party or public establishment where they might be at risk.
  • Never give the appearance that you are lost.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Watch for careless drivers.
  • Stay off of hotel balcony rails.
And eat your vegetables! Hold your buddy's hand, and don't talk to strangers. And for pete's sake, honey, take the SPF 50!

But now, the best part, dedicated exclusively to alcohol:


  • Do not take any drinks (alcoholic or nonalcoholic) from a stranger.
  • Do not leave your drink unattended.  
  • If you are not of legal age, DO NOT drink alcohol.
  • If you are of legal age and choose to drink alcohol, do so in a way that does not put you or someone else at risk.
  • Do not drink and drive. Designate a driver or call a cab (and keep the number in your possession).
  • Alcohol abuse has always been the most common contributor of rape; however, more and more incidents have involved drugs such as GHB and Rohypnol. These drugs are tasteless, odorless, easily slipped into drinks, and almost impossible to detect until it's too late. More information about date rape drugs is available at http://www.4woman.gov/faq/date-rape-drugs.cfm .
  • Realize it is perfectly acceptable to refuse alcohol and to feel comfortable and confident if you choose not to drink.
Not bad advice, on the whole, and reiterating the whole watch-your-drink and don't-drive-drunk thing is never a bad idea. However, anyone who is going to "choose not to drink" isn't going on the kind of spring break trip where they need to be told it's okay not to drink. Second of all, I was under the impression that it was rapists raping people that was "the most common contributor of rape" (ah rape! that great gift!) but, turns out, it's drinking, which will get you raped. That's not a song I'm tired of hearing on repeat at all.


Paul said:

I really don't see it. Predators look for easy prey, and it's a lot easier to take advantage of someone who's drunk / drugged. It's not saying it's their fault for getting drunk or drugged, it's saying it makes them a more likely target.

Paul said:

I really don't see it. Predators look for easy prey, and it's a lot easier to take advantage of someone who's drunk / drugged. It's not saying it's their fault for getting drunk or drugged, it's saying it makes them a more likely target.

Andrea said:

Paul -

Fair point, which is why I said it's vaguely victim-blaming. Drinking puts people at risk for all kinds of crazy shit. But rapists raping is what causes rape, not drinking.

"Starman" Matt Morrison said:

The part that really gets me is the •Know the laws of the place you are traveling. They WILL be enforced..

Because given the age of who this is aimed at, I immediately think of the prisons in the sort of movies that play on Cinemax at 1 in the morning where Bridgette Nielsen or Sybil Danning is the warden and the chain gangs do their work in nothing BUT chains.

Paul said:

Now I've got an image in my head of a beer bottle attempting to rape someone. Awesome.

SikeChick said:

Does anyone else remember Michael Fay? He was the kid back in the 90s who was sentenced to be caned in Singapore for vandalism and theft. I think that might be where the law will be enforce part comes in.

Overall, I haven't any problems with what's written here.

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