Cayuga’s Watchers is a student-run, 501(c)(3) organization that serves to make Cornell’s campus safer through promoting peer social responsibility to mitigate high-risk drinking on campus. We hire, train, and employ students to attend events to help students avoid unpleasant or dangerous situations. Currently, our Watchers make a competitive $10 per hour to do this, which is in line with, or better than, most jobs on-campus. Our executive board is not paid for what we do- our work is our passion for seeing this organization succeed and becoming the national model of combating high-risk drinking.
With Greeks constituting over one-third of our student population and a vast majority of our social events hosted by Greek organizations, there’s no doubt that members of Cornell’s fraternities & sororities have tremendous social influence in our campus community. Beyond the academic, leadership, service, and professional opportunities that are unique to the Greek experience, Greeks benefit from innumerable social opportunities to relax and unwind, connect with friends, and have a fun, memorable, and safe time.
Cayuga’s Watchers has garnered a great deal of attention for its sober monitors who keep parties safe by watching and intervening with individual party goers before things get out of hand. CW also deserves credit for its efforts to teach bystander intervention skills to thousands of Cornellians across the campus. In the 1960s, interest in bystander intervention was spurred by the brutal murder of Kitty Genovese. Residents who heard her cries for help did not come to her aid. The media were outraged. What went wrong? Since then, we have learned a lot and bystander intervention training has become a well-established technique for teaching students to intervene in a variety of problematic circumstances, including incidents related to alcohol and other drugs, sexual violence, hazing, stress, depression, and discrimination. Last year, CW trained over 2,000 undergraduates in bystander intervention.
Consent Ed was started by a small group of passionate women who were determined to make a difference on Cornell’s campus through peer-to-peer facilitated discussions on sex, consent, and social responsibility. Consent Ed has always been a place where victims and survivors could find solace, where women could learn about the resources available to them, and create a plan to teach the general student body about an issue that statistically affects 1 in 4 women in college. What began as a small group of five women four years ago has now evolved into a 130-member organization where women and men of all backgrounds, genders, and identities can get educated about consent, the reporting and confidential resources for survivors and victims, and the culture on Cornell’s campus.
A recent study out of Cardiff University has revealed that when drunk and surrounded by other drinkers, people’s judgements of their own intoxication are actually determined by the drunkenness of their peers, not by the actual amount of alcohol consumed. The study demonstrated that when surrounded by other intoxicated people, individuals underestimate their own level of drinking. However, when individuals are surrounded by people who are more sober, they are more cognizant of the risks associated with their drinking behavior.
Ahhh, the why. For me, I’ve always been the Mom of the group. Whether I’m trying to keep the group together, holding someone’s hair back and rubbing their back when they get sick, giving that one friend a piggy back ride back to dorm, staying sober to drive people home, or telling off a boy that isn’t quite understanding the word “no.” While I love to have fun, I also love keeping my friends safe.
Watchers performed a whopping 361 interventions throughout SP16, 141 of which were distractions with a non-alcoholic beverage, 181 of which were a distraction with conversation, and 39 of which were stopping an unwanted sexual advance.
On Slope Day 2016, watchers were utilized for two separate shifts that compromised almost the entirety of the day’s events. Watchers performed more than 70 interventions throughout the course of the day which helped to ensure the safety of students during this high-risk end-of-year celebration. Watchers flagged Cornell EMS 12 times during the day, which resulted in 15 EMS transports.
During Wet Week, CW had 85 employees available for work with 23 working events. Each event had at least 3 watchers, at most 6, and an average of 3.3. The busiest day during the period was Monday, 2/29/2016 with 14 Watchers working at once. This may be a result of the fact that it is the first day after the new member period ends, and therefore the first day that new members can attend “wet” events, mainly mixers with fraternities. In fact, all of the events worked by CW during the week were Greek mixers located at Greek houses. On average, events lasted 2 hours and 43 minutes and were attended by almost 100 people.
This past Monday, the Association of American Universities released the results of a survey that included students from 27 universities. Overall, more than 150,000 students detailed their experiences with sexual assault on college campuses.
The full report (which can be found here) includes responses from both Cornell’s undergraduate and graduate population. Our campus had a 19% response rate, which is consistent with the percentage of other student bodies reporting at other universities. More women completed the survey than men, and 1.5 times more undergraduates responded than graduate students.
Welcome back! The Cayuga’s Watchers team is excited to spend another semester serving the Cornell community and keeping the party safe. I’d like to introduce a few new and exciting additions that we have in store for the upcoming fall semester.
The first? This blog itself. On our blog, you can expect monthly updates about our growing organization and how we are advancing our commitment to mitigate the risks of high-risk drinking. Additionally, these organizational reviews will be accompanied by various posts from employees, parents, student leaders and administrators who wish to join our discussion.