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At Cornell University, some students have taken matters into their own hands with Cayuga’s Watchers. The student non-profit, founded in 2012, trains and places paid students at events that could require interventions. Its motto: “Keeping the party safe.”
These Cornell students get paid to go to parties with their friends — to help protect them. Watchers get trained, then get paid to go to social events. At parties they look and act like most other people there, holding a red cup, talking, maybe dancing a little — but they stay sober.
They are called Cayuga's Watchers, Watchers for short -- Cornell students working undercover to prevent alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct at parties. Sober, specially trained to intervene in certain situations and paid for their role going to parties and staying sober.
Cornell, with the largest enrollment of the Ivy League schools, has taken significant strides to limit high-risk drinking through organizations like Cayuga’s Watchers that “promote responsible behavior and make students responsible for their peers” by employing watchers to attend parties.
Arriving on campus her freshman year, Maria (not her real name) was struck by the number of parties that included alcohol. Now a sophomore, Maria is a charter member of the student-run organization Cayuga’s Watchers, which sends peer intervention teams to parties.
Since launching in October, student-run nonprofit Cayuga’s Watchers has increased its presence on and off campus by helping classmates drink responsibly and preventing alcohol-related incidents, according to Eric Silverberg ’14, President of Cayuga’s Watchers.
Cayuga’s Watchers and Consent Education will host an inaugural Culture of Consent Week on Ho Plaza beginning Monday, initiating an annual attempt to elevate sexual assault awareness and prevention. Cayuga’s Watchers hires sober monitors to attend parties.