Baller: UI Greek Life is pushing Red Watch Band training to teach life-saving skills

The University of Iowa Greek Life is boostiing Red Watch Band training for students. It teaches life-saving skills, how to detect fatal symptoms, and much more.


Nick Rohlman

Icicles form on the Old Capitol on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019.

Kasey Baller , Opinions Columnist

We all have heard the infamous representation of greek life around the country. Horror stories make the news just about weekly, providing an increased concern for the future of greek life.

Numerous schools have shut down or put major restrictions on their greek organizations. Students have died, been harassed, put in danger, etc. This is not an accurate or fair representation, because many schools have a positive and progressive culture.

Again … as many have heard, this winter, four fraternities were kicked off campus. And again … this does not represent greek life as a whole, because there are very positive sororities and fraternities promoting safety and pursuing things in a positive direction. Greek life kicked off the 2018-19 school year with a new program that teaches individuals the precautions and symptoms of a dangerous situation through Red Watch Band training. As the academic year comes to a close, Red Watch Band training can be analyzed on its effectiveness.

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Almost 6,000 students at the University of Iowa have trained in Red Watch Band so far, according to UI Student Health & Wellness. Students are taught skills, confidence, and knowledge to make the call for someone to prevent death from an alcohol overdose. Everyone who completes the training will receive CPR and alcohol-bystander training.

As a member of greek life, I know how crucial it is to show that we are not only made up of students who drink and party extensively. We need to be strong advocates for a safe and responsible campus. Formal season is in full swing currently, so safety is a major priority for these events. Red Watch Band training can be applied to our formals and date-party events as a certain number of members are required to be Red Watch Band trained and “on duty” at events to prevent the unthinkable. This program is effective for greek life because it is realistic. It is not telling students to not drink (that is unlikely to happen), it is telling students to be responsible and watch out for each other.

It is also important to note as an insider of greek life, I want others to know that this program was not created only for greek-life students. This program was created for all students at the UI. Despite the negative light on greek life recently, these dangerous situations with alcohol happen to students outside of the greek community as well. It does not only happen at formals or date parties, so being prepared is the best way to make the campus a safer and more comfortable environment.

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I asked some greek life members about the training to get their take on it. Delta Gamma’s Leila Hagan said, “My favorite thing about the training was what we were taught about keeping ourselves and others safe. As college students, we can especially find ourselves in pressing situations, so I wish everyone completed this training.” Phi Kappa Psi’s Ethan Shafer believes “this training is very important because my brothers and I were taught the procedures to keep each other and the people around us safe.”

Realistic programs such as this, combined with positive efforts to keep students and others safe, can only bring positivity to the UI campus. Hopefully, through Red Watch Band training, greek life will stay out of the negative headlines and back into a positive light. 

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