The buddy system can save students’ lives

A student argues about the importance of students sticking together during nights out.


When Claire Spencer went out with one of her friends last year, she was left alone and had to find her way home by herself in the middle of the night. 

“I’ve had a friend stay at something and I had to go home alone and I had some random man driving me home and I was really on edge and it was late at night and drinking was involved,” said Spencer, a junior film and media arts major.

Feeling unsafe and afraid, Spencer now uses the buddy system on nights out when drinking, meaning she stays with another person at all times. She thinks everyone should stick to the buddy system and stay with their friends while drinking.  

Being drunk and alone can lead to dangerous situations for anyone. Students should always be with at least one other responsible person when drinking, especially when going out to various places surrounded by big crowds. 

“I think it’s really important to have a buddy system, especially as a woman,” Spencer said. “You never know how people are going to act, especially when alcohol becomes involved. I think it’s really important that you leave with the group that you came with, and that nobody leaves anybody behind.” 

Scary situations like Spencer’s don’t always end safely. In late March, social media users quickly latched onto the story of Riley Strain, a 22-year-old college student from Missouri who disappeared on a spring break night out with fraternity brothers in Nashville, Tennessee, and was later found deceased in a river downstream from Nashville. While his story is tragic, it’s not an unheard-of-tale among college-aged students.

More than 1,500 students between the ages of 18 and 24 die every year from alcohol-related incidents, according to a 2024 study by the American Addiction Centers.

Consumption of substances, like alcohol or marijuana, makes situations riskier and impairs students’ ability to make good decisions, said Alex Koehler, the assistant director of the Wellness Resource Center.

“When we put substances into the mix, filters or even the control we have over our body is something that gets a little inhibited, we don’t have as much control over ourselves or what we are saying, what we are doing,” Koehler said.

Using the buddy system means that if someone wants to go to the bathroom, leave a party or bar early or step outside for a breath of fresh air, there should always be another person with them to ensure no one gets lost or hurt. 

Even if a student doesn’t want to step away from the party when their friend needs to leave, they should always be willing to stick by their friend’s side, as it is better to miss out on some fun than letting a friend go solo and potentially get lost or put in harm’s way. 

The buddy system is crucial in protecting against harm when going out, and Lilly Menichiello often uses it with her friends to make sure they are safe and emotionally supported, she said.

“By sticking together, people can start to reduce that risk of being victimized, or even students hurting themselves,” said Menichiello, a junior criminal justice major. “If you have friends who aren’t necessarily under the influence to the extent you are, they can keep a lookout for things such as overconsumption, issues getting overly intoxicated, and they can kind of step in and intervene in case something happens at all.” 

Beyond sticking with a friend, there are some other steps students can take to minimize the chances of tragedy and make sure they have fun while prioritizing safety, like planning their night before they even go out. Students should consider factors like where they are going, how they are getting there and how they are going back home before they even start drinking. 

If they somehow end up alone regardless of attempts to follow the buddy system, students on or near campus can use FLIGHT, the university’s nighttime shuttle service, to find their way home safely after going out. The shuttle route runs seven days a week every 15 minutes from 6 P.M. to 2 A.M. and it covers the patrol zone from Susquehanna Avenue to Jefferson Street, except for 13th to Broad Streets. 

The TUSafe app also offers a service that allows students to be escorted home by an officer either in person or virtually. 

Most students like to party in the city and they should make sure to return home with the same group of friends they went with. Car services, like Uber and Lyft, are particularly common among college students and to prevent unfortunate situations students should never send a drunk friend in a car alone and try to share the ride information with a trusted person.  

It’s not realistic to ask college students to stop drinking, but there are ways for students to participate and enjoy their time at Temple while being safe and taking care of each other at the same time. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and sticking together might make the difference between a fun night and tragedy.

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