Tips for a safe homecoming

Letter to the Editor

The leaves are changing, the temperature is cooling down, pumpkin flavor is on every menu and watching Panther football is a Saturday staple. What could be better than a UNI football game on the weekend? UNI Homecoming week, of course!

During Homecoming, students get to display their school pride and help cheer the Panthers on to a victory! It is easy to get caught up in all the excitement, which could lead to poor decision making for many students. It is important to consider your actions and the lasting impact they can have on your health and safety.

Tailgating can be a fun way to socialize with friends or family while cheering on the Panthers; however, safety always needs to be a priority, especially if you choose to drink alcohol. 

If you choose to drink alcohol, here are some strategies to reduce your risk: 

• Pace your drinks by drinking only one drink per hour

• Eat something before you start drinking

• Know how much alcohol is in your drink

• Avoid drinking games and shots

• Alternate with non-alcoholic drinks

• Keep your mood in check

• Don’t leave your drink unattended

• Stay hydrated

• Have a plan ahead of time for how much you are planning to drink and stick to it

• Have a sober friend who can hold you accountable

• Respect those who choose not to drink

Another way to help you stay safe while tailgating or drinking in general is to order a B.A.C. Zone card. This wallet-sized card can help you stay below the recommended blood alcohol concentration of .05. The cards are customized because BAC is greatly influenced by sex and weight. To order a card, you can go to, and it will be mailed directly to you at no cost!

Homecoming of course is not just about the game and tailgating, it is also about celebrating the victory after the game.  For some, this may mean at a party or bar. This can be a great way to meet new people who are just as proud to celebrate UNI as you are. Nonetheless, remember to make safe decisions; your future self will thank you.

You will want to have a safety plan. For starters, surround yourself with people who have your best interest in mind, never travel alone, and leave with the same group you came with. It’s also good to have a backup plan, and agree ahead of time to keep a close eye out for one another.

If you or someone else is in an uncomfortable situation, remember it is okay to make an excuse to leave the situation. Some excuses you could use to leave a risky situation are: (1) needing to take care of another friend, (2) an urgent phone call, (3) not feeling well or (4) having to be somewhere else by a certain time. Most importantly, you should stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Go with your gut and trust your instincts.  If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable at any time for any reason, call for help: UNI police can be reached at 319-273-2712 and if it’s an emergency, call 911.

In order to provide you and other students with a fun and safe environment, UNI offers a number of different resources. The Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) sponsors the Weekend SafeRide. This bus runs every Friday and Saturday night during the academic year and is FREE to the public. It stops at a number of different places on campus and the schedule can be found at

There are also other health and safety resources such as:

UNI Police (24/7) (319) 273-2712

Safety Escort Services (319) 273-2712

On-campus sexual assault advocate through the Riverview Center (563) 231-1285

UNI Counseling Center (319) 273-2676, after hours, dial 2 for a crisis counselor

24-hour sexual assault support (888) 557-0310

24-hour relationship violence support (800) 208-0388

More information on all of these services can be found at These services are available for your use not only during homecoming week but also year-round.

If you would like to learn more about alcohol safety, safety in social settings, and campus resources, please join us at the Panther Picnic on Wednesday, Oct. 17th at 11 a.m. to enjoy food while supplies last on the Campanile Plaza (or MU if rained out).

There will be interactive activities such as a field sobriety test, trivia questions, one standard drink game, free giveaways and much more. We hope to see you there!

-Beth Chaney, Student Wellness Services Graduate Assistant