Staying safe over spring break

GVSU departments host event to promote awareness, precautionary measures

By Tylee Bush | 2/12/17 9:36pm

GVL / Emily Frye Shelby Simpson assists Officer Minh Lien, Katrina Rast, and Genevieve Steffes with an alcohol demonstration for ACES on Wednesday Jan. 25, 2016.
by Emily Frye and Emily Frye / The Lanthorn

Spring break is just around the corner, and the excitement is resonating throughout campus. This annual academic recess is a chance for students and faculty alike to take a breather, relax from the stresses of the semester and fuel up for the final stretch to finals.

While spring break is highly anticipated, it does not come without risks. In fact, it has become quite common for students to find themselves in dangerous, risky situations while on spring break. This is due to a variety of conditions, including naivety, unpreparedness or obliviousness to the safety hazards that come with traveling and vacationing.

To decrease these risks and to best equip students to have a safe, enjoyable spring break, Grand Valley State University will be hosting an event called “Safe Not Salty: Staying Safe While Enjoying Spring Break.” This interactive presentation will be held Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room.

Whether students are ready to rest and relax in Allendale or have big travel plans and tropical destinations on their itinerary, all are encouraged to attend this event and learn the fundamentals of how to stay safe over break. This seminar will offer students tips to prepare for circumstances they might face before, during and even after spring break this year.

The upcoming event has been collaboratively coordinated by a variety of GVSU organizations, including Alcohol & Other Drugs Campus Education Services (ACES), the GVSU Women’s Center and the GVSU Police Department.

As the GVPD chief of police, Renee Freeman is tasked with promoting the safety and wellbeing of the GVSU community. Freeman said the mission of the GVPD is to educate and inform students about a wide range of safety topics, “from personal safety to alcohol awareness.”

“We promote preparedness in a number of ways, essentially encouraging students to think ahead and always have a plan of action,” Freeman said.

Freeman will be presenting at the “Safe Not Salty” event, along with Officer Collin Wallace of the GVPD.

“Our portion of the presentation consists of providing safety tips for travel, whether that is how to plan ahead, what to pack, where to stay, how to travel about in the area of destination and practicing situational awareness,” Freeman said.

Freeman said students are frequently at risk without even knowing it during spring break.

“Students oftentimes are inattentive to their surroundings and fail to plan ahead,” she said. “Oftentimes, the mentality is, ‘It—whatever that may be—won’t happen to me.’

“Also, this could be a first time away without family. Students are left to make decisions about a multitude of things which they may be unaccustomed to. Doing so for the first time, especially in a place that is not familiar, can sometimes be difficult.”

Freeman recommended that students attend the event, whether or not they intend to travel.

“There is a wide array of great tips to help students prepare for a fun and safe spring break,” Freeman said.

“Safe Not Salty” is a part of an ongoing series of events for It’s on Us, a campaign dedicated to promoting awareness about sexual assault and educating active bystanders.

Ashley Schulte, the victim advocate at the GVSU Women’s Center, who is also involved with It’s on Us, is eager for the upcoming event.

“Comprehensive prevention and education around gender-based and interpersonal violence is not an isolated topic, so by offering and facilitating collaborative programs like ‘Safe Not Salty,’ (the Women’s Center) gets to broaden our work,” Schulte said.

Schulte is hopeful about the potential of the event and expects a good turnout given the success of the previous It’s on Us events.

The “Safe Not Salty” event is LIB 100 approved and, in the case of inclement weather, a potential snow date has been set for Wednesday, Feb. 22.

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