During formal senate on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the Associated Student Body passed SR 23-4, putting into place the angel shot initiative on campus and in local bars.
If someone feels unsafe in a bar, they can go up to an employee and order an “angel shot,” a code that lets the employee know the customer needs help.
There are several types of angel shots that carry different codes. An angel shot “neat” or “straight” signals that the person needs an escort to their car. An angel shot “on the rocks” means someone needs a taxi or Uber. An angel shot with a “twist” of lemon or lime means the person needs the employee to call 911 immediately.
President Pro-Tempore Anastasia Jones-Burdick, co-author of the bill alongside External Committee Chair Ben Murphy, said the initiative is a “harm reduction strategy.”
“I first heard of the initiative last year when I was still serving as the chair of the Inclusion Engagement Committee,” Jones-Burdick said. “I was immediately interested in this specific initiative’s ability to empower the community to both improve public safety and student relations with the Oxford Police Department.”
Jones-Burdick said ASB has collaborated with student organizations including Rally Against Sexual Assault and College Family Clinic Council to address many concerns.
Student government also worked with the Oxford Police Department for the past year to refine the initiative. Jeff McCutchen, chief of police, said OPD has held multiple meetings with Jones-Burdick and Murphy since last fall to continue their bar safety collaboration. Previously, ASB helped advertise Safe Ride and Drink Safe Coasters.
“Bar safety has been a hot topic around the country, especially in college towns like ours, and we wanted to be able to reach out and address an area that students were already thinking about,” McCutchen said.
The initiative includes spreading awareness of the angel shot code through posters approved by OPD that will be displayed around campus. Posters will also be put in alcohol-serving establishments to help train employees on how to use the code.
Jones-Burdick said with major tourist events like Double Decker and baseball season this spring, this initiative is crucial.
“OPD has expressed interest in how this will help with crowd management and keep students safe,” Jones-Burdick said.
If an individual is underaged and intoxicated, they can still use the angel shot code without fear of legal repercussion. OPD will not charge underage individuals who are intoxicated and seeking help.
During the period of debate, one senator brought up the concern that spreading awareness of the code may be dangerous. If the perpetrator knows the code and hears someone ordering it, the situation may escalate. Jones-Burdick said OPD will work with local establishments to make sure they know how to react quickly in this scenario.
“So what you would be ordering is an angel shot with lime. If this code is figured out and there is a potential aggressor or perpetrator, that would just call for direct intervention and these two parties would be separated immediately by bar management and Oxford Police Department would be contacted to respond,” Jones-Burdick said.
According to McCutchen, OPD and ASB plan to table outside the student union and at the OPD Safe Site tent on the Square to raise awareness.