Students Train as Floaties for Sun God 2015

UCSD hosted the Floaties Training program at The Zone on April 22 to inform students about safe ways to engage in festivals and social events, giving scientific and factual information about alcohols and drugs, as well as instructions on safe alcohol usage and how to be a responsible bystander at social events.

 UCSD Health Promotion Services initially organized the training program in order to promote a safer environment at the university’s annual Sun God Festival and to prevent the festival from having negative effects on the community outside the campus. UCSD Health Educator Lupe Samaniego Kraus explained the reasons that engendered Floaties Training in 2014.

“There was a huge increase in [the] number of students that were transported to the hospitals [during Sun God Festival in 2013],” Kraus said. “Because of so many students being in the emergency department, it really caused a lot of major issues in the community.”

Based on UCSD’s Bystander Intervention Training, Floaties Training program promoted IDEAS, an acronym for Interrupt, Distract, Engage Peers, Authority and Safety.

Moreover, the program tried to clear certain misconceptions about synthetic drugs, such as Molly, that are often mistakenly labeled as “pure.”

Floaties Training statistics showed that only 34 percent of ecstasy sold in 2014 was 100 percent MDMA. The remaining 66 percent was found to be either not MDMA or MDMA mixed with other dangerous substances, such as bath salts and methamphetamine.

Even though drug usage is not encouraged during Sun God Festival, Floaties Training suggested purchasing drug-test kits for students who choose to use drugs, in order to prevent users from consuming drugs that they are unaware of. Students can purchase drug-test kits via dancesafe.org.

Program Director of Floaties Training Iris Crowe-Lerma explained to the UCSD Guardian what the consequences are of possessing illegal drugs during the festival.

“If drugs are found on student[s], they will have the option to dispose of their drugs into the amnesty box and can then proceed into the festival, so long as they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Crowe-Lerma said. “If drugs are found on student[s] and they do not dispose of their drugs into the amnesty box, they may be subject to arrest or other consequences.”

The university will present amnesty boxes at the entrance of the festival and employ drug-detection dogs to discourage students from taking illegal drugs.

Unlike in the past, UCSD is hosting Floaties Training all year, since the promoters judged that the training requires persistent practice in order to be effective.

After the program, Muir College freshman Priya Sheth expressed her opinion of Floaties Training to the Guardian.

“It’s really interesting to see how other organizations are getting involved in making sure that the students here are safe during events,” Sheth said. “If you are going to [be involved in social events], here is the way to be safe about it.”

Additionally, the university and the A.S. Council  launched a social marketing campaign in spring called Stay With Me that aims to promote safer alcohol and drug practices.  Its main goal focuses on risk reduction as a community on campus.