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Campus Life

Safety Week: From Beer Goggles to a Burning Room

Each fall, University administrators face the daunting task of educating new students about potential campus hazards, from cars on Commonwealth Avenue to candles in residence halls. The challenge, says Laura De Veau, assistant director of residence life, is addressing a variety of safety issues in a way that reaches students, who are often focused on other back-to-school concerns.

“With all the distractions kids have in their lives, there’s more risk of people getting hurt if they’re just not paying attention while walking to class,” De Veau (CGS’87, COM’89, SED’95) says. “We want them to be safe, to be aware, to look around them as they’re walking down the street.”

This year, the Office of Residence Life and the BU Police Department, along with the offices of Judicial Affairs and Environmental Health and Safety, are sponsoring Safety Week, a five-day stretch of programs around campus that covers alcohol abuse, property theft, safe sex, pedestrian and bike safety, and fire safety. Safety Week begins today, September 24, with an 11 a.m. Beer Goggles session — where participants wearing goggles that simulate varying blood-alcohol levels navigate an obstacle course — in Marsh Plaza. The week winds up early on Saturday, September 29, when faculty and staff will be available in residence hall lobbies to talk to students about their plans for the evening and offer pointers on staying safe.

The programs, De Veau says, are designed to engage students as they’re going about their normal routines. “Everything is set up in a passive way — you just have to walk by,” she says.


The week’s biggest attention-grabber will undoubtedly be the Dorm Burn, scheduled for Friday, September 28, at 11 a.m. A full-size replica of a Boston University dorm room — constructed by BU’s facilities department — will be set on fire in the Granby Street lot to illustrate how quickly flames can spread. In addition, the state fire marshal’s office will set up a trailer nearby that simulates the visibility in a room filled with smoke; students will be able to walk through the trailer to experience firelike conditions.

Fire safety has been a particular concern for the University this year. Last February, two BU students died and a third was critically injured in an off-campus apartment fire. Discussions for Safety Week had already begun at that point, but “the fire made it that much more important,” De Veau says. “We were saying, ‘We don’t want to rush through this and not really get to the heart of the matter.’”

 A safer-sex party, residence hall fire drills, and Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program demonstrations are also scheduled.

“We want to grab people’s attention,” says De Veau. “And we really want it to be a week that encompasses all kinds of levels of safety.”

A full schedule of Safety Week events is available at the ResLife Web site.

Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu.