The Delicate Balance We Walk

Still at my parents and families conference.  One of the subjects of the conference is parent communications, and this pre-post has to do with the delicate balance we walk with you in terms of talking about student behaviors.

Some students choose to participate in a concerning and troubling event at the last home football game of the season.  It is called Senior Fifth.  My colleague Peter Rives (’98), Assistant Director of Wellbeing – Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention, describes it this way:

Senior Fifth is a very dangerous activity in which some upperclass students have participated in the past. It involves students attempting to drink an entire 750ml bottle (fifth) of liquor the day of the last home football game before kickoff (this year 11/19/16 v. Clemson). This unfortunate activity is not unique to Wake Forest. This prevention campaign seeks to foster a campus culture that questions assumptions that this activity is safe or universally accepted and offers those who wish to decline participation support and language with which to resist peer pressure. The posters specifically invoke the risk associated with alcohol poisoning, the nostalgia that upperclassmen students feel about their time spent at Wake Forest University, the conflict between high-risk drinking and achievement, and research on Self Perception of Adulthood (SPOA). This poster campaign is just one piece of a multi-faceted prevention program aimed at reducing high-risk drinking among Wake Forest University students. 

Peter and his colleagues have developed a multi-pronged prevention for Senior Fifth, which includes a prevention poster campaign aimed at upperclassmen. Students are seeing posters on digital screens, printed posters, and tent-boards around campus in areas strategically chosen to be seen by upperclass students.

Peter says that the primary goal with this campaign is to stimulate discussion about Senior Fifth, to raise questions about the compatibility of Senior Fifth with safety, maturity and academic success, and to give those feeling pressure to participate language with which to push back.

There is a delicate line that is walked every year with Senior Fifth. Some students feel like they are being lectured to, or infantalized when the administration talks to parents and families about the event.  Only you will know if, when, and/or how it might be appropriate to talk to your student about high risk drinking behaviors.

Here are some of the posters that are being used in this campaign.

senior fifth 2016

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