Campus Safety Update and Senior Fifth | Parents & Families (2024)

by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. ('92, MA '94)

Today we have two important safety topics to cover: a campus safety update, and Senior Fifth.

Last night, a Campus Safety Update was shared with students, faculty, and staff to alert the community of additional information about an ongoing issue and provide safety reminders. You can read the full message here, but here is your BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):

  • The individual aggressively approaching Wake Forest students has been banned from campus. He will be arrested by University Police if he is caught trespassing.
  • Since Oct. 27, there are no confirmed reports that the individual has returned to campus.
  • Although rumors of multiple reported sightings have circulated, University Police have received and responded to two reports since Oct. 27 related to the individual. The first proved to be a mistaken identification, and the second proved to be a student filing a report about an incident that did not occur.
  • No other reports have been made to University Police regarding this individual being on campus.
  • If verifiable information comes to Wake Forest’s attention that the safety of the campus is jeopardized in any way, the community will be notified as we did when the individual first came to the University’s attention.
  • The full message also outlines steps University Police and the Winston-Salem PD are taking.

I also have had a couple of messages from families about why they had only seen information about this in the Daily Deac, vs. a broadcast email to all families. We do not send every safety advisory to families; you can see when to expect direct communications in our Family Communications Guidelines and Philosophy website.

As we approach the last home football game of the year, it’s time to talk about Senior Fifth. I invited Peter Rives, Assistant Director of Wellbeing, for a Q&A to help explain this phenomenon, and where we invite parents and families to help us. Campus Safety Update and Senior Fifth | Parents & Families (1)

What is Senior Fifth?

Senior Fifth is a dangerous activity that some seniors choose to do at the last home football game. Students attempt to drink a fifth of liquor – an entire 750 ml bottle! – between midnight and kickoff of the football game.

When is this year’s last home football game?

The last home football game this year is 11/19 vs. Syracuse. Kickoff time is 8 p.m.

What does Wake Forest do to discourage Senior Fifth?

Senior Fifth had become a ritual that was perpetuated from year to year within the student culture. It is of course something we have been actively working to change over a number of years.

We have a robust campaign in place to provide students with language to use to resist peer pressure and to challenge assumptions that Senior Fifth is safe or universally accepted as part of our culture. We have a number of Senior Fifth posters in campus buildings that outline the risks associated with alcohol poisoning, or point out the inherent tensions between high-risk drinking and high student achievement. You can see some examples here. These posters are just one small part of a much larger prevention and safety initiative (click to enlarge).

Campus Safety Update and Senior Fifth | Parents & Families (2)

Have we moved the needle any in changing student behavior?

Yes, our Senior Fifth prevention campaigns has made an impact. Though some students continue to participate, there is growing anecdotal evidence that the cultural importance of Senior Fifth is waning and that more students see it as a bad idea and dangerous activity rather than an inevitable part of the college experience. You can see from this graph (click to enlarge) that we have had a substantial reduction in harm since 2015.

Campus Safety Update and Senior Fifth | Parents & Families (3)

How did the pandemic impact Senior Fifth in 2020? And what happened in 2018 that caused a spike?

While we had hoped that the pandemic would interrupt the Senior Fifth cycle, some students continued to engage in this dangerous activity, even despite not having student tailgates in 2020. Luckily, the prevention initiatives continued to be effective in reducing harms.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is influenced by 4 key variables: sex, weight, amount of alcohol, and time. When there is a much shorter time between midnight and kickoff, this tends to result in higher BACs and therefore higher occurrences of students requiring medical intervention for intoxication.

In 2018, kickoff was 12 noon – which was 7.5 hours earlier than the prior year. When you compress the time in which students can consume a fifth of alcohol, that increases the likelihood for much higher BACs and risk to students’ health,

Is there a call to action for parents and families?

Family members and loved ones still have an enormous amount of influence on student behavior. Even if students don’t appear to be listening to you, your words do matter. For parents/family members of seniors, the call to action is this: talk to your senior! Whether that is overtly about your desire that they do not participate in Senior Fifth, or whether you talk about not engaging in high risk drinking behavior in general, it is important for you to stress your expectations for their behavior and that your interest is in their safety and wellbeing.

For families of all other class years, your call to action is to begin laying the groundwork now about high risk behaviors and Senior Fifth – and keep building on that over time.

Having parents and families as partners in this prevention work is critical. Thank you for all you can do to help encourage safe and healthy expectations for your student.

Campus Safety Update and Senior Fifth | Parents & Families (2024)


What changes might be made to improve safety of college campuses? ›

Below are some tips for schools looking to improve safety on their campus.
  • Review who has access. It's important to reevaluate who has access to specific buildings and rooms. ...
  • Create a plan. Develop policies and procedures for responding to emergencies. ...
  • Utilize technology. ...
  • Educate the community. ...
  • Stay alert. ...
  • Consider the cloud.

What are the safety issues on college campuses? ›

The most common crimes that occur on campus are sexual assaults, theft, and physical assaults. Car accidents, fires, and sports injuries can also leave you hurt. Here are eight tips related to the most common safety problems on college campuses and how you can keep yourself safe.

Why is campus safety and security is important? ›

Campus safety departments play a critical role in ensuring that higher education institutions are places where students, faculty, and staff can focus on learning, teaching, and research without the looming worry of security threats.

What is senior fifth? ›

Senior Fifth is a dangerous activity that some seniors choose to do at the last home football game. Students attempt to drink a fifth of liquor – an entire 750 ml bottle! – between midnight and kickoff of the football game.

What are 4 preventive measure and suggestions for staying safe on campus? ›

Campus Safety Tips
  • Always lock your door behind you whenever you leave your room — even if just to go to the restroom.
  • Close and lock your windows whenever you leave your room. ...
  • Do not tape or put any objects in your door jam. ...
  • Keep your backpack in your room when eating in the dining halls.

What three things would you do to improve your college university? ›

  • Ways to Improve Your College Campus.
  • Turn the Gym into a Recreation Center.
  • Keep the Campus Grounds Clean!
  • Improve Campus Mail Services with Smart Parcel Lockers.
  • Increase Parking.
  • Create a Sustainable Student Farm.
  • Focus on Creating Spaces Where Students Can Come Together.
  • Go Green.

What is the #1 problem on college campuses? ›

Mental Health and Wellness Issues

More than 60% of college students met the criteria for at least one mental health problem in the 2020-2021 school year. Many college students struggle with mental health due to stress from coursework or anxiety from friendships and romantic relationships.

What is the number one cause of college campus fires? ›

94 percent of fatal campus fires occurred off-campus. Smoking (29 percent) was the leading cause of fatal campus fires. Alcohol was a factor in 76 percent of fatal campus fires. Smoke alarms were either missing or tampered with (disconnected or battery removed) in 58 percent of fatal campus fires.

Do college students feel safe on campus? ›

65% of current and prospective college students said school shootings make them concerned for their safety on campus. Despite this, nearly three-quarters of current college students say they feel safe on their campus. Over half still say their college should be doing more to protect them at school.

What is the Safe Campus Act? ›

The Safe Campus Act requires universities to educate all adult and student staff on sexual assault and reporting. It also encourages, but does not require the university to provide sexual assault education to the students.

Why should there be more security in schools? ›

Knowing that their school is protected by trained and certified security professionals offers greater peace of mind for students, families, faculty and staff. The presence of school security professionals not only helps students feel safe from physical violence, it also helps support emotional safety, too.

How old is a 5th year senior? ›

Most pupils are 17 or 18 years of age by the end of their Fifth Year. Many secondary schools have Summer exams at the end of Fifth Year to test the student on what they have learned throughout the year.

Does 55 make you a senior? ›

For example, according to Medicare, a senior is 65 years old or older. However, Social Security benefits are eligible for seniors starting at 62, even though the Social Security Office reports that 67 is the age of retirement. Yet if you are 55 and you visit an Arby's or McDonald's you can get a senior discount.

What is a 5th year college student called? ›

The term "super senior" refers to a student who attends a four-year institution (either high school or college) for more than four years. Such students are sometimes called fifth-year seniors, as well.

How can we make colleges safer? ›

10 Ways to Improve Student Safety on Campus
  1. Sexual assault prevention. ...
  2. Crime reporting processes. ...
  3. Alcohol and drug awareness. ...
  4. Well-lit campuses. ...
  5. Campus security. ...
  6. Evacuation training. ...
  7. Protecting belongings. ...
  8. First aid training.
Mar 15, 2020

How can we prevent campus crime? ›

Remain aware of your surroundings; do not get distracted by your phone while walking. Know your way around campus and follow well-lit commonly traveled routes; avoid shortcuts and dark, isolated areas.

How can college campuses become more sustainable? ›

10 Ways to Promote Sustainability on College Campuses
  1. Buy Local. ...
  2. Participate in Campus Sustainability Month. ...
  3. Install Recycling Bins. ...
  4. Start a Bike Rental Program. ...
  5. Start a Campus Garden. ...
  6. Start a Composting Program. ...
  7. Stop Using Disposable Items. ...
  8. Go Digital.

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