Risky Tradition Looms Ahead Of Upcoming Game

This Saturday, Nov. 17, Wake Forest Football will play their final home game of the season against Pittsburgh with a kickoff time set at noon. The kickoff time is causing concern for many, as students plan to partake in the “Senior Fifth” tradition through which they set a goal to finish a fifth of liquor between midnight and kickoff, a tradition made more problematic by earlier kickoff times.

As a result, many facets of university administration — including University Police, student Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the Thrive Office —  have been preparing for the game through preventative campaigns, and express concern about student safety this weekend.

“We are anticipating an increased number of calls, and are prepared to have a Forsyth County ambulance standby on campus should that be necessary,” said junior Taylor Manthey of EMS. “We also will have monitors at the shuttles before kickoff, in case there are any issues there. At the stadium, Forsyth County will be on standby as usual.”

While the early kickoff time is causing concern for many, others note that it may not have as much of an impact as one would initially think, as historical data does not necessarily show that later game times results in fewer students seeking medical care.

“We are definitely anticipating that the noon kickoff time creates a higher risk for students placing themselves in a more dangerous situation because of a compressed time,” said Darren Aaron, the EMS Advisor and an Associate Director for Wake Forest Student Health Service. “However, I do not believe the time alone, looking at historical data, tells the whole story.”

Most surprisingly, the most recent year that the senior fifth game had a noon kickoff time was in 2013 versus Clemson, for which only four students sought medical care for intoxication.

When compared to the 7 p.m. and later kickoff games in recent years, this number is not significantly higher than for evening games.

Aaron cites factors outside of the kickoff time for having contributed to lower numbers in students seeking medical care for intoxication, such as poster campaigns, alcohol education initiatives and administrative partnerships with Greek organizations and Student Government.

“A whole lot more response and prevention planning/strategies have taken place in recent years,” Aaron said. “There is elevated partnership with Student Government, Greek Life, Student Conduct and Residence Life and Housing.”

The “backwards thinking” poster campaign, which many students may see around campus with backwards lettering to draw attention, is a notable effort by University officials.

The “Senior Fifth” tradition is not unique to Wake Forest, and can be found at other schools such as the University of Virginia and UNC-Chapel Hill. It is always placed at the last home game of the season for which students are on campus.

For a student to consume a fifth of liquor, or 17 shots, between midnight and noon, they would have to average about 1.4 shots an hour. This would result in a BAC level of 0.5 for an average female and 0.35 for an average male.

“Senior Fifth itself is dangerous no matter the kick-off time, solely due to the quantity of alcohol people are consuming,” Mathey said. “It becomes much more concerning as kick-off times are made earlier, since individuals are expected to finish roughly 16 shots of liquor between midnight and the time the game begins. The earlier the kick-off time, the less students who choose to participate can spread out their drinks and allow their bodies to avoid a buildup of alcohol.”

While some continue to worry about students completing the tradition in such a short time span, others have expressed that the earlier time will encourage less people to take part in the first place.

“I think fewer people will do Senior Fifth, because the game’s so early,” said senior Lizzie Waid.

Despite the time frame of Senior Fifth being constricted to the day of the football game, Aaron noted that the tradition may impact the prior Friday and following Sunday as well.

“The entire weekend is a higher-risk weekend compared to most other weekends,” he said.

The kickoff time of the game was set by the ACC and announced on Nov. 5. The university has no say in the time.