Safe La Crosse Initiative



Safe La Crosse is a community-based initiative that encourages safe and responsible behavior related to alcohol consumption. The Tri-campus Advocacy Group developed the concept as a means of promoting awareness and comprehensive safety practices. The goal is to significantly reduce alcohol related injury in our community. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Viterbo University and Western Technical College are planning a number of activities on their respective campuses to promote Safe La Crosse.


In a key initiative, marketing and communications students from UW-L have developed an ad campaign designed to promote awareness throughout the community. The ad campaign follows the theme: You wouldn’t leave your cellphone, why would you leave your friends? This message will be displayed throughout the community, including at local taverns. The theme will promote safe practices in alcohol consumption through a friend-to-friend approach. Other elements of the student campaign include:

 ·         Safe La Crosse Kick-Off Concert with Rob Gonzalez (Friday, Sept. 14, Viterbo). Free and open to the community. Sponsored by the three campuses.

·         Oktoberfest Sobering Area – A central location where individuals could stop by to get a bite to eat and non-alcoholic beverages before heading home.

·         “Intolerance to Drunk Driving and Underage Drinking” presentation by former Miss America Jennifer Berry (Monday, Sept. 17, Viterbo; Tuesday, Sept. 18, UW-L)

·         Rectoberfest – This is a late night alcohol alternative activity providing food, games, prizes, and fun. Open to the public, the event will be held on the first Friday of Oktoberfest. Last year the event brought over 500 students from all three campuses. (Friday, Sept. 28, Recreational Eagle Center at UW-L).

Other initiatives involving all three campuses:

  • Operation River Watch – This is a tri-campus student initiative partnering with the La Crosse police to patrol the Mississippi River in downtown La Crosse on Thursday-Saturday evenings during the academic year. Student volunteers from all three campuses provide extra sets of eyes to support safety along the river front.
  • Safe Ride – the Safe Ride bus offers a safe travel option between downtown and the three college campuses on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Students, friends, and the general public ride free. Safe Ride began in 2000. 
  • In 2007, the Changing the Culture of Risky Drinking Behavior grant was awarded to La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium by the Medical College of Wisconsin to address the serious burden of alcohol related injuries in La Crosse. The three campuses, along with Gundersen Lutheran and Franciscan Skemp are partners in this effort.

UW-La Crosse initiatives

  • Safety on the Sidewalk (SOS) – The SOS program at UW-L is a campus volunteer service that provides safe walks on campus and up to 13 blocks off-campus. This service is available seven nights a week (when fall and spring term classes are in session) to all students, faculty, and staff who seek a safe alternative to walking alone.
  • Staff support – A new Community Health Specialist position was created at UW-L to connect a broad array of health-related issues for students, including responsible choices with alcohol and other drugs. Sara Burton, a UW-L soccer coach and teacher, has now added a component of her position to connect our athletics programs to our community health efforts and will work closely with the new Community Health Specialist.
  • Reach and Share – A peer educational outreach effort with the primary goal to help create a healthy and productive campus and community environment. Through programming and passive education we hope to give students the information that will allow them to make safe and educated choices.
  • Late Night Programming – Initiated in 2003, the UW-L Office of Residence Life has designated $10,000 to sponsor weekend late night alternative programming.

Viterbo University initiatives

  • VU After Dark with lively and entertaining weekend late night programs will premiere at Viterbo this fall. The new Student Program Assistant will work with Campus Activities and Residence Life to offer exciting on-campus programs every weekend including band battles, bingo, card tournaments, casino nights, comedians, hypnotists, game shows, and mystery trips. Viterbo also plans a greater number of recreational tournaments and outdoor concerts in 2007-2008.
  • Viterbo staff members working in health services, residence life, athletics, and student development will add brief alcohol and drug interventions to their repertoire of alcohol and other drug reduction activities. Such interventions are shown to be one of the most effective ways to reduce misuse of alcohol.  
  • The families of incoming Viterbo freshmen are mailed a letter and brochure from the Vice President for Student Development. The information sent encourages a conversation between parents and students prior to the start of a collegiate career. Issues to be addressed in the conversation are expectations and perceptions about alcohol, encouraging campus involvement and developing a plan for safety of self and others, etc.

Western Technical College initiatives

  • Project 21 – A birthday card project where businesses offer free or discounted food or services to help students safely celebrate their 21st birthdays without alcohol.
  • Western has hired a new AODA/Student Activities Specialist, who is coordinating classroom presentations, speakers/events, and Project 21.
  • Western initiated a Zero Tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs in its residence halls, along with a Good Samaritan Practice to encourage dangerously intoxicated students to seek medical care without fear of formal conduct action. Western has a new student alcohol and drug testing policy to identify students on campus who are possibly under the influence and a possible threat to the safety of themselves or others.
  • Western refers students who have received an underage drinking citation to the AODA Counselor for a discussion about responsible decision making.
  • Western is offering a new course called Alcohol and Drug Intervention Education for the College-Aged Student.


A number of key community organizations have also endorsed Safe La Crosse. As part of this endorsement, these organizations have agreed to promote safe practices within their respective organizations:


·         The La Crosse Tavern League

·         The La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium

·         Gundersen Lutheran

·         Franciscan Skemp

·         The Oktoberfest Board

·         Downtown Mainstreet, Inc.

·         The City of La Crosse Police Department