Sunday, September 15, 2019

At Trinity and Around the World: Nightwatch comes to campus

ANA MEDINA ’16
CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The disbanding of TCERT (Trinity College Emergency Response Team) took the Trinity community by surprise. It left everyone wondering how the drinking situation would be handled on weekends. Would there be an increase in ambulance calls? Would Campus Safety have to intervene more? Such questions kept springing up until Martha O’Brien and Lauren Donais came up with the perfect solution—Nightwatch.

Nightwatch takes a preventative approach to help decrease intoxication incidents and sexual assaults on campus by providing water and bagels to students. Its successful start can be attributed to not only their well-trained staff but also its coordinator, Jessica Fortin ’14.

Fortin is a senior biology major. She hopes to attend medical school and focus specifically on primary care. As a freshman she participated in Trinity’s ISP program (Interdisciplinary Science Program), enrolled in the EMT course, and has been an EMT for two years.

Fortin comments on how she first became involved with TCERT, “my RA was the director of TCERT [during my freshman year] and when I told him I was interested in doing a pre-med program he brought up the EMT course. I took it right away the following semester.” Before taking over Nightwatch, Fortin shadowed Dartmouth’s Green Team, their own version of Nightwatch, and learned how to run the team.

Had TCERT not disbanded, Fortin would have taken a leadership role on their team. However, she used the discontinuation of TCERT as a moment to reflect on what our campus needed. “I don’t think TCERT is needed… they were more reactive and what [Trinity] needs is a more preventative approach.” Fortin believes that sometimes all students need is a friend to say, “Hey, slow down. How about we get you some water?”

However, Nightwatch staff does not just help students who may have had too much to drink. They also take students back to their rooms and give them the option to avoid leaving with someone they may not want to. “Having [Nightwatch] members at events will help students get out of sticky situations. It’ll give them the option to have an out, to stop and think about what they really want,” Fortin explains about having members prevent sexual assault.

Just last week Fortin reports that Nightwatch members have helped prevent ten potential sexual assault incidents and have given aid to over twenty toxic related incidents. Such statistics will only continue to increase and a monthly report will be distributed to the student body on the progress of the program.

So far, Nightwatch has not faced many struggles. However, Fortin hopes more students sign up to do the training. “[Our] big goal is for everyone on campus to be trained in recognizing signs of sexual assault and intoxication. We also want to have no sexual assaults nor any sort of injuries,” Fortin reveals about her ambitious goal. Additionally, she hopes students have begun to recognize the green backpacks that identify Nightwatch members.

With Nightwatch having much success should Trinity expect TCERT to be back at all? “Nightwatch won’t take over TCERT. There is an ambulance service that has the same response as TCERT. [TCERT] was not working out and we weren’t treated well. The difference now is that Nighwatch staff gets paid and that’s incentive for members to join,” Fortin further explains. While TCERT’s services were greatly appreciated by the Trinity community it seems as though Fortin has established a more effective program for students to practice safe party habits.

Fortin hopes that students continue to show interest in the program and encourages people to contact her via e-mail anytime. With this year being her last at Trinity, she hopes to have students interested in taking up the leadership position. As the number of employees rises, one can only expect for the Nightwatch team to continue to make a large difference on campus. For more information contact Fortin at Jessica.fortin@trincoll.edu.

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