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Be responsible, be a 'Wingman'

BY GUEST OPINION | NOVEMBER 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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We've all been there. It is 2 a.m., and your drunk roommate calls, wanting you to come pick her or him up. Your buddy has had one too many drinks and might need medical attention. Or worse, you're far too intoxicated friend is put in a sexually victimizing situation. The question is: Do you know what to do?

The Wingman Campaign is about looking out for your friends in a partying environment. A true friend, like a wingman, is always there when you need her or him, especially when your safety is compromised. Friends should always be ready to recognize and respond to drug- and alcohol-related situations that get out of control.

Now, this is not a suggestion to get hammered hoping that a friend will be there to baby-sit you. Being a Wingman is about mutual responsibility. No one can predict how a night will unfold, so it's your job as a friend to not be selfish and instead have one fewer drink if it means you might be able to save your friend's life.

Some people may feel that dangerous binge drinking among college students can be enabled by their friends and social groups. At the same time, the strong bond among friends provides a unique opportunity for students to positively affect each other's behavior. The point is not to remove yourself from the partying environment but instead become more conscious of decisions made throughout the night so you and your fellow Wingman can be in control while having fun.

If your friend is drinking too much, give her or him water. If your friend needs a ride home, call a cab. If your friend needs medical attention, call 9-1-1. While all of these reactions may seem like no-brainers, it's going to be a lot harder to follow through on these actions if you're equally wasted.

There are many ways people can prepare themselves for emergencies. A few minutes can make all the difference in a life-or-death situation. There are three specific tools the Wingman Campaign focuses on: Red Watch Band, Responsible Action Protocol, and late-night transportation.

Red Watch Band is a two-hour course that teaches students how to respond to life-threatening alcohol-related crises. It includes identifying and reacting to alcohol poisoning, CPR, and automated-external-defibrillator training, as well as bystander-intervention training.

The Responsible Action Protocol is an agreement through the Dean of Students' Office that protects students who call to get their friend emergency help. The protocol provides amnesty from disciplinary actions for the person who made the phone call.

And with UISG's new cab partnership, students will be able to get two cab rides per semester in the case of an emergency. An emergency situation can be anything from not feeling safe when you're walking home to removing yourself from an out-of-control house party, but cabs will only take you to your home or to the hospital.

You should always be prepared to act as a Wingman. You never know when a friend is going to need you or when you are going to need them. Be safe, be smart, be a Wingman.

Brittany Caplin is the vice president of the University of Iowa Student Government.


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