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Purple Media Network

NSU students should be aware of the dangers that could occur over spring break

Kallie Bourgeois
NSU University Police captain Wesley Harrell addresses some safety precautions students should take over spring break.

Every year college students relax and recharge over spring break. Whether staying at home or partying on vacation, Northwestern State University of Louisiana students should take precautions to avoid the dangers of spring break.

Thamsanqa Jongile, assistant hospitality management and tourism professor, has experienced many instances in his career where spring break has caused unsafe conditions and even tragedy for college students.

“What a lot of times students try to do is, when they’re drunk, they try to ‘undrunk’ themselves by exercising, so you find them sprinting up and down the hallways, taking cold showers and going near the ocean,” Jongile said. “One time we had three deaths in one weekend, and that was just my hotel.”

Oftentimes, overcrowding can serve as a cause of potential danger for tourists in travel destinations. During an internship in Auburn, Ala., Jongile saw first-hand the crowds of Orange Beach during spring break.

“Usually, it hits the southern states the most because of the location and price, but it was also just overcrowded,” Jongile said. “Overcrowding is a bad thing because it causes a lot of people to drive, which causes issues with the cops. There were too many instances of DUIs (driving under the influence) and substance abuse.”

Traveling in the states is one thing for college students, but traveling internationally is a whole different territory.

“Be aware of the law over there because it’s not the same as ours. If you break a law and say, ‘Oh I’m entitled,’ you are entitled to nothing and they can keep you there,” Jongile said.

Jongile encouraged students to stay aware of where you are traveling, especially when traveling internationally, and to do their research. Since the United States dollar typically holds more value than that of other countries, American tourists are often targets for crime.

“When I went to the Dominican Republic for one of my spring breaks, I went with a group of eight people, four phones were stolen and one wallet that had his passport in it,” Jongile said.

He also added that surveys show students are much more likely to experiment with drugs for the first time over spring break, even if they are unaware of what that drug is.

Maggie Bossier, assistant director of Counseling and Career Services added that students should remain aware, especially when using substances.

“Alcohol poisoning is a big danger,” Bossier said. “Make sure you avoid drinking more alcohol than water while out in the sun, drinking and operating watercrafts or swimming while drunk, wearing life jackets when boating, practicing safe sex with sober consent.”

According to Bossier, sexual assault cases primarily happen due to vulnerability from the over consumption of alcohol or other substances.

“The state law says that anyone consuming alcohol cannot legally give sexual consent,” Bossier said. “Verbal consent is important during this time because you do not want to assume anything. Just because they may not have given a clear ‘no,’ you do need a clear verbal ‘yes.’”

Bossier explained that students should take precautions to notice the signs that they may be in danger.

“Students should limit their alcohol intake, go out with a group and leave with a group, never accept an open drink from a stranger or leave your open drink unattended,” Bossier said. “If your drink appears foggy, your ice sinks to the bottom of the glass, the drink has excessive bubbles or there is a change in color your drink may have been spiked.”

Bossier shared practices which students should implement when traveling to stay safe.

“At the hotel, keep your doors and sliding doors locked, ask the uber driver to call you by name before you enter the vehicle and avoid sitting in the front of the passenger seat, make sure your phone stays fully charged and consider downloading the ‘Life 360 Location’ app so you can be on your friend’s radar at all times.”

Bossier also reminds students that in any unsettling situation they may experience, Counseling Services on campus provides assistance and support.

Wesley Harrell, University Police captain, explained that there are resources on campus to handle these dangerous situations.

“There’s several things that a student can do, if they’ve been assaulted or they know of a student that has been assaulted, they can come to our office and file a report in reference to that,” Harrell said. “They can also go speak to Julie Powell, our Title XI coordinator, who can assist them with the Title XI side of things, they have different outlets and outreaches that they can help and assist students with.”

Harrell also stressed the importance of the CampusShield app. CampusShield is a free app that allows users to submit tips to campus safety officers, set a safety timer or quickly notify authorities in the event of an emergency along with the location of the user. The app can let authorities know about any suspicious activity or other safety concerns, request safe transportation and connect with campus resources such as crisis hotlines.

“If they have issues then they can really use the CampusShield app, because it’s not just useful on campus but also when you leave campus,” Harrell said. “You can get in contact with us pretty quickly as long as you can unlock your phone.”

The well-being and safety of students is the top priority of University Police, Harrel said.

“Students are our main concern and priority, but to say that we need our students to let us know when things are going on,” Harrell said. “Whether it be a roommate issue, relationship issue or whatever it may be, someone will handle whatever’s going on with your assistance.”

Though every spring break experience is not the same, NSU students should still take precautions to avoid the dangers of spring break and enjoy the week off.

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About the Contributor
Kallie Bourgeois
Kallie Bourgeois, Current Sauce - Reporter
Kallie Bourgeois is a freshman communication major, with a minor in sociology at NSU. This is her second semester as a reporter for The Current Sauce. She has had a love for storytelling since high school, where she spent a year as her school’s Editor for their newspaper. Kallie looks forward to continuing her passion for journalism by delivering stories of exciting events happening on campus and in the Natchitoches area.  

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