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Stay safe, healthy this Halloween

October 28, 2009

Madison’s Freakfest is coming up this Saturday, Oct. 31, and the Offices of the Dean of Students (ODOS) and University Health Services (UHS) are teaming up to wish students a safe and happy Halloween.

Amid the fun of dressing up, UHS is reminding students that a costume will not protect against the spread of H1N1. Although evaluations for influenza cases were relatively low during the past month, students should be aware that this week’s numbers from UHS are trending upward again.

 “If you have friends planning to come for Halloween, please ask them to stay home if they develop any flu-like symptoms this week — which means a fever with a cough or sore throat,” says Sarah Van Orman, director of UHS. “If you get sick, you should stay home and not host any guests. And if you’re healthy and you go out to parties, definitely avoid sharing cups and playing drinking games.”

Lori Berquam, dean of students, echoes that message and suggests students should also go out with personal safety in mind in the wake of recent safety incidents in the campus area.

“Above all, take care of yourself and your friends, and make sure everyone gets home safely,” she says.

If you don’t feel like going out in the crowds, numerous other events are taking place, such as men’s hockey versus New Hampshire and a University Theatre production of “The Imaginary Invalid.” Visit for details.

Should you choose to go out, keep in mind that intoxication may increase your vulnerability to becoming a victim of crime. Among Berquam’s pieces of wisdom gathered from past State Street celebrations:

— Common sense: Go out with your friends. Stay in a group and return home with that group. Walk in well-lit areas. Check in with each other throughout the night. Designate a meeting time and place in case you get separated.

— Housing: Keep in mind that nonresidents will not be allowed in University Housing residence halls on Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Residents may be asked to show their Wiscard when entering residence hall buildings and while in other public areas of University Housing throughout Halloween weekend. Please be advised that nonresidents will be asked to immediately leave the premises on these dates.

— If a friend can’t walk home on his or her own or passes out, don’t leave your friend alone. Call 911 if you are uncertain of his or her condition.

— If you accept a beverage from someone, make sure that you know the person, you’ve observed the drink’s preparation and that you never leave it unattended. Exercise caution in any public setting with any beverage.

— If you plan to host a party, control who enters your residence. Don’t hold an “open” party. People who have access to your residence should be guests who are known to you, not just anyone who walks in off the street.

— Remember to wear closed-toed shoes instead of sandals or flip-flops in the event that there is broken glass on the street.

— Open intoxicants are not allowed on any city street, sidewalk, terrace, alley or other public property, even if you are of legal drinking age. The Madison Police Department will forward any citation information back to the Offices of the Dean of Students and you could face sanctions that could impact your student status.

— Weapons or realistic facsimiles of weapons as part of costumes are not allowed by Madison police.

— On Halloween, don’t wear a costume that inhibits or restricts your ability to see or run. Some people may take advantage of being unrecognizable in a Halloween costume.

Lastly, Berquam is asking everyone to consider everyone’s right to live and feel safe in the Madison community, including fellow students, campus neighbors and downtown business owners.

“You’re free to dress as you choose, but it is my strong belief that racist, crude and culturally insensitive costumes say a lot about the person wearing that costume.” she says. “You don’t come off as witty, but offensive.”

Finally, remember that the anonymity you may feel from wearing a mask or costume does not negate your rights or responsibilities as a Madison resident or a UW–Madison student. Students found to be responsible for engaging in criminal behavior that impacts other members of the university community — on or off campus — can face sanctions up to and including suspension or expulsion.

For more information, visit or