A large group of CU students poses together with their arms around each other outside on a sunny day.

For many of us, college represents a major step toward adulthood. As we grapple with life changes and academic life we may find ourselves taking on additional risks in order to cope with increased academic, social, emotional and financial pressures. Knowing how to take care of ourselves and look out for each other can make all the difference in creating a positive college experience for everyone.

Here are a few ways to look out for yourself and each other throughout your time at CU.

Don’t ignore it

Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Learning how to identify risky or concerning behaviors is an important first step in helping us address and respond to different situations.

Here are some experiences and situations you should never ignore:

Mental Health Concerns

Someone may be experiencing a mental health crisis if they are having thoughts of seriously harming themselves or others, are hearing voices nobody else can hear, have recently experienced loss or trauma, believe their life is in danger or are exhibiting other concerning behaviors.

Find support for mental health crises.

Alcohol- and drug-related emergencies

Signs of an overdose include pinpoint (small) pupils, shallow or no breathing, blue/grayish lips or fingertips, unresponsive or heavy gurgling/wheezing/snoring sounds.

How to party smart and respond in alcohol- or drug-related emergencies.

Experiences of bias or discrimination

Bias and discrimination can include behavior, speech or expressions that are directed toward someone based on their perceived identity (race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc.). Biased speech also includes microaggressions.

How to be an effective bystander or find support.


Hazing includes any activity expected of someone when joining a group that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.

Find support for hazing incidents.


Harassment includes behaviors that are offensive or that make a person feel threatened, intimidated or humiliated. This includes ongoing and one-time incidents.

Find support for harassment or sexual harassment.

Unwanted sexual behavior

Sexual misconduct is a broad term that includes any non-consensual or unwelcome sexual behaviors, including assault, touching, harassment, exploitation, intimidation and solicitation.

Find support for sexual assault and other unwanted sexual behaviors.


Stalking is any pattern of unwanted behaviors directed at a specific person that causes that person to feel fear and/or change their daily routines. Stalking behaviors can include texting, gift-giving, showing up “coincidentally”, spreading misinformation about a person, etc.

Find support for stalking.

Intimate partner abuse

Abusive behaviors can be inflicted by a romantic or intimate partner in order to control a present or former partner, including physical, emotional, financial, sexual or reproductive abuse.

Find support or help a friend who has disclosed a traumatic experience.

Other forms of misconduct

Additional forms of misconduct include violence, vandalism, concerning comments (online and in real life), conduct violations, law-breaking and other distressing behaviors.

Find support for other concerns.

Stay safe

Taking care of ourselves often means practicing healthy habits. There are a variety of strategies and habits you can use to keep yourself and others safe. Here are a few to keep in mind:

If using alcohol and other substances

  • Use mindfully. If you choose to drink or use substances, think through the experiences you want to have as well as those you’d like to avoid. Use this information to guide your decisions around drinking or substance use.
  • Pick and choose. Going out can be fun, but it’s okay to stay in, too. Prioritize your own needs and what will make you feel best long-term, not just in the moment.
  • Eat and stay hydrated. Eat a snack or meal before you start drinking. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the night.
  • Set a limit and stick to it. Alcohol affects everyone differently. Set a limit that feels right for you and stick to it. Enlist friends to help keep you accountable while you’re drinking.
  • Avoid mixing. Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol is the most common cause of overdose. Additional unwanted experiences can include passing out, feeling sick or doing something you might regret later.
  • Get home safe. Make plans before going out and stick to them. If things change, talk about it with the group you’re with. Never leave someone behind with people you just met or don’t know well.
  • Take care of your friends. If someone is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning or an overdose, call 911 for help. Make sure they’re in a safe place and stay with them while you wait for help.

Learn more ways to party smart and stay safe

Sexual assault prevention

  • Give and receive consent. Consent is when people mutually agree to engage in sexual activities, whether it’s kissing, touching or sex.
  • Check in with your partner. If you’re hooking up with someone, check in with each other to make sure you’re still on the same page. Listen to each other, pay attention to nonverbal cues and respect each other’s boundaries. If your partner is having difficulty responding to questions or answering directly, stop until you know what they want.
  • Understand the impact of drugs and alcohol. If someone is incapacitated for any reason, they can not give consent. This can include disorientation, loss of motor control, forgetfulness or unconsciousness.
  • No means no. Consent cannot be given through pressure, coercion or other forms of manipulation. No means no, even if they’ve said yes in the past.
  • Keep your friends safe. Never leave someone behind with people you just met or don’t know very well. If one of your friends is incapacitated, make sure they get home safely.

Learn more about consent and sexual assault resources

Illness prevention

  • Get vaccinated. Since antibiotics don’t work against viruses, it’s important to get vaccinated against illnesses like the flu, COVID-19 and meningitis. CU Boulder students can get free flu shots and COVID vaccines from Medical Services.
  • Practice good hygiene. Washing your hands, sneezing and coughing into your sleeve, wiping down surfaces and using hand sanitizer can help keep you and your fellow Buffs from spreading germs and getting sick.
  • Sharing isn’t caring. Sharing items like lip balm, food and drinks, vape products and eating utensils can spread illnesses. Avoid sharing personal items with your friends.
  • Support your immune system. Your immune system is impacted by everything you do: what you eat, how much you sleep, your stress levels, ect. Keep your immune system strong by building healthy habits.
  • Make time for yourself. When our mental health is cared for, our physical health follows. It’s important to take time to relax, organize your thoughts and find healthy ways to manage everything you have going on.
  • Stay home if you’re sick. If you’re not feeling well, stay home and try to limit your contact with other people.

Learn more about how to stay healthy and what to do if you get sick

Call for help

We may encounter an emergency situation at some point in our lives, and calling for help right away can help ensure everyone makes it home safely. 

When to call 911 for help in an emergency

Emergency services are available for life-threatening situations.

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you or someone you know: 

  • Is experiencing life-threatening situation
  • May be experiencing alcohol poisoning or drug overdose*
  • Is having a serious medical issue (e.g. seizures, choking, loss of consciousness, concussion, uncontrolled bleeding, etc.)
  • Has been in an accident or may be seriously injured

*Helping an individual by calling for help in an alcohol- or drug-related emergency means neither the person who calls for help nor the person who needs help will be subject to formal disciplinary sanctions by the university (i.e., probation, suspension, expulsion). Educational sanctions may still be assigned.

Learn more about the Amnesty Policy

When to call for help in a mental health crisis

Crisis services are available for concerns that are acutely distressing and require same-day support.

Call Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) at 303-492-2277 if you or someone you know:

  • Are heaving thoughts of suicide or are not sure how to keep self safe
  • Are having thoughts of doing serious harm to someone and may act on them
  • Believe their life is in danger
  • Hear voices or see things that no one else hears or sees
  • Have just been discharged from a psychiatric hospital
  • Have recently been physically or sexually assaulted
  • Are in a life-threatening situation (family, friend, etc.)
  • Have recently experienced an overwhelming loss or trauma
  • Believe alcohol or drug use is out of control
  • Believe eating/not eating is out of control

Additional emergency and crisis care resources

Reach out

If you’re concerned about a friend, roommate, classmate or someone else on campus, reach out to see if they need support. We all struggle sometimes, and just having someone reach out to check-in can make a huge difference. Check out the resources below to find support for yourself or someone you know.

Campus resources and support

Office of Victim Assistance (OVA)

OVA provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short-term counseling services to CU Boulder students, faculty and staff who have experienced a traumatic, disturbing or life-disruptive event. To speak with an advocacy counselor, call 303-492-8855 (24/7 support available). 

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

CAPS offers confidential mental health and psychiatric services for a variety of concerns such as academics, anxiety, body image, depression, relationships, substance use and more. CAPS works with students individually to create personalized treatment plans that may include a combination of workshops, group therapy, individual therapy, community referrals or other services.

Health Promotion

Health Promotion offers a variety of wellness programs for CU Boulder students, including classes, events, workshops and more. Students can also meet with a Peer Wellness Coach to help set and achieve their wellness goals.

Collegiate Recovery Center (CUCRC)

The CUCRC provides meetings and support groups, recovery-focused housing, events and activities, peer support and more for students in recovery or interested in pursuing recovery from drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, self-harm, other addictions and unwanted behaviors.

Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC)

OIEC implements and enforces university policies around sexual assault, intimate partner abuse and stalking, and other forms of sexual misconduct. If you or someone you know at CU has been impacted, reports can be filed online. Anonymously reporting is an option as well.

Don't Ignore It

Don't Ignore It is a free online resource to help students, staff, faculty and community members navigate reporting options and get help for themselves or others. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Don't ignore it.

Recreation Services

The Rec can help you stay safe and healthy by offering a variety of services, including self defense classes, flu shots, physical therapy, injury care and prevention and more.

Alcohol and other drug classes

Health Promotion offers a variety of classes that support students as they reflect on their relationship with alcohol and other substance use.

Training opportunities

Health and Wellness Services offers a number of free trainings that can help prepare you for a variety of situations like addressing mental health crises, having important conversations, supporting a friend through trauma and more.

Guardian app

CU Boulder students, staff and faculty have free access to the mobile safety app, Guardian. This app allows you to notify people when you are out and about, so that friends or family know if you have arrived safely at your destination or if they need to call for help.