Are you prepared?
by Claire Mongeau
Even the most confident college students worry sometimes about the worst-case scenario—becoming a victim of crime or violence, losing a friend, how to help when the decision could mean life or death. Would you know what to do? Take our quiz, test your knowledge and pick up a little more worldly wisdom.
1. You’re at a party on a Saturday night and after a few hours, you decide you want to get your friend to go home. You find your friend passed out on a couch in the corner. You poke him in the shoulder, and then yell in his ear, to tell him it’s time to leave. They don’t respond. You notice that his face is very pale and he is breathing very slowly. When you talk to the hosts of the party, they say that your friend is welcome to sleep it off on their couch, but not to call anyone because they could get in major trouble if the college found out and wouldn’t be allowed to have any more parties. You’re really tired and just want to go to bed. What do you do?
a. Stay at the party and keep an eye on your friend. He should wake up in a little while, and then you two can go home.
b. Although you’re a little worried about his health, you don’t want to call emergency services and get your hosts in trouble. You ask others at the party to check on your friend and you go home to bed.
c. Despite your hosts’ concerns about their party, you call 911 or the campus emergency medical services to come make sure your friend is not in danger. It’s more important that your friend is safe.
2. You’re at the cafeteria with one of your friends and notice that she, as usual, is not having anything more than a salad with no dressing for dinner. You take a closer look and notice that she has been looking extremely thin and pale recently, and even though it’s warm outside she’s wearing a thick sweater. When you ask her if she would like to go get some ice cream for dessert with you, she says, “No, thanks, I had a big lunch earlier so I’m not hungry.” You suspect that she might have an eating problem. What do you do?
a. Tell her, “You need to gain some weight and eat some more. I’m not leaving until you get some ice cream.”
b. Later, in private, talk to your friend and mention what you’ve noticed. Explain as gently and supportively as possible that you’re just concerned about her health because you care about her. If she seems willing to talk about it, discuss some of the hotlines or campus resources available to get help.
c. Mind your own business and do nothing. It’s her body; she can do with it what she wants. You don’t want to interfere if nothing’s wrong.
3. A few of your friends decide that they are going to get some fake IDs so that they can buy their own alcohol and get into bars on the weekends. They ask you to join in on the fun. You know it’s illegal, but you want to be able to party with your friends on the weekend. What do you do?
a. Get a fake ID. The chances the police will catch you are slim to none, and you can just run if they try to catch you anyway.
b. Tell your friends thanks, but no thanks. You could have your license suspended, get a hefty fine, or even be arrested if you’re caught with a fake ID. Having a record isn’t worth the risk.
c. Say no to the fake but borrow somebody’s ID who looks a little like you. Most bouncers don’t really care.
4. One of your friends has been seeming really down lately. She often talks about how pointless her life is and dropped out of all her extracurricular activities. She doesn’t make an effort to hang out with her other friends, which resulted in them not even bothering to invite her out places anymore. She just sits around her room in a baggy sweatshirt. You’re really worried about her health. What do you do?
a. You ask your friend if something is wrong. She says she’s fine, so you decide to leave it be. What else can you do?
b. Ask your other friends if they have noticed anything wrong with your mutual friend. They say yes, but that it’s been so hard to see her lately that they have just given up. You agree and decide to do the same. Someone else can help her out.
c. Talk to your friend and say that you’re really worried because you care about them. Try to convince her to talk to on-campus counseling services or other trained professionals in the area. If she refuses, contact these services or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anyway to see what you can do to help your friend get better.
5. It’s very late at night on a Tuesday and you have been hanging out with one of your friends in her dorm room. You finally realize what time it is and decide it’s time to go home, but your dorm is all the way across campus. It’s a pretty far walk, especially through some areas that get pretty dark and abandoned late at night. Your friend offers to let you stay over, but you need to wake up early the next morning and don’t want to impose. At the same time, you’re nervous about walking alone and the possible risk of being targeted for an assault. What do you do?
a. Call the campus police escort service, which provides an officer to walk you from one place to another at any time of night. Having a trained police officer walk you home will ease your nervousness and will definitely protect you if there’s any trouble.
b. Ask your friend to walk you home. She says she wouldn’t mind walking back to her own room by herself, because she doesn’t get scared by these kinds of things.
c. Decide to walk home, but at a quick pace. You’ll just put in your headphones and distract yourself from your nerves.
6. After a good long talk with one of your friends, he gets very quiet and tells you that a year ago, he was sexually assaulted. He says that it’s not a big deal and he’s fine, but at the same time he often cannot sleep and feels very anxious and depressed. He asks you not to tell anyone because he’s embarrassed about it. You want to help your friend, but when you try to bring it up the next day he shuts you down and says he doesn’t want to talk about it. What do you do?
a. Do nothing. He obviously doesn’t want to talk about it anymore, so you just hope that he’s okay.
b. Ask your other friends for advice. They know him too, so they should have some good suggestions on how to proceed.
c. Contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) or the Online Hotline at rainn.org. The hotlines provide free confidential counseling services 24/7 to survivors as well as friends of survivors, and they can help advise you on how to help your friend. Even if he doesn’t want to talk about it, try to gently let him know that you are there for him and that the National Sexual Assault Hotline is a good step in trying to get help.
1. If you answered C your friend might survive. With those symptoms (slowed or irregular breathing, incoherence or confusion) your friend might have alcohol poisoning. Nearly 1,400 college students die every year from alcohol poisoning or with alcohol poisoning as a contributing factor. Check out the whole list of symptoms at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alcohol-poisoning/DS00861/DSECTION=symptom
2. The answer is B. Public confrontations and eating disorders don’t go well together but a caring supportive friend can be the first step toward a solution (http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/problems/friend_eating_disorder.html#)
3. Running from the cops (A) is never a good idea. B is your answer once again. Laws on this vary from state to state but the guy checking Ids is rarely willing to risk his job so you can party (C).
4. B can be a good starting point but C is the way to go on this one. Colleges have really stepped up the last few years on mental health issues, especially depression and suicide so if she won’t get help let someone on campus know, your RA, her RA, someone in the counseling office or even a trusted professor.
5. Don’t gamble with your safety, suck it up and call security(A). It’ll give you a chance to make a friend in the public safety office, which is a good thing to have. It’s not fair to put your friend in danger, even if she’s not afraid (B) and walking alone late at night with your headphones in (C) puts you in even MORE danger.
6. C may seem obvious but you’d be surprised at how many friends just don’t know what to do with a revelation of this kind and end up doing nothing (A). Talking with others about his experience (B) is exactly the wrong thing to do. He told you because he trusts you, don’t violate that trust! Educating yourself regarding sexual abuse and sexual assault, learning the do’s & don’ts of talking with someone who is a survivor is a great way to help a friend. Encouraging him to seek expert help, especially if he is still struggling with the aftermath is the best thing you could do.