Promise Committee Debuts Car Flags
By Camille Hunt The Promise Committee, a student-run organization, was created after last December’s fatal drunk-driving accident, which took the life of senior Kelsey Durkin and devastated the W&L community. As our campus continues to heal from last year’s loss, the Promise Committee has helped the W&L community move forward with a safer and more conscious mindset. The committee was responsible for last year’s Generals Week, which featured events like a 5K race, a speech given by alum Eloise Southard, a concert, and a video presentation. The powerful video, which features friends of Kelsey Durkin and students involved in the accident, details Washington and Lee’s history with drunk driving. It not only brought us to tears, but also brought us to terms with the fact that we, as students, must take action to ensure that this past pattern of drunk driving at W&L doesn’t continue into the future.
As the one-year anniversary of last year’s tragedy approaches, the committee has been working with fraternities and other social organizations directly to improve the sober driving system for off-campus parties. On Saturday, November 15th, a caravan of cars marked with yellow flags made its way to and from the Freshmen Quad and Windfall Hill to provide transportation for that afternoon’s Thanksgiving party. As is customary before any party, students were sent via email a list naming the sober drivers for Saturday’s event complete with each driver’s cell phone number. Students were also informed that they would be able to recognize their sober drivers by the yellow flags on their cars, a new addition to the fraternity driving system thanks to the Promise Committee.
The purpose of the yellow flags is to clearly mark and make available cars that can safely take students home from a party, which the committee hopes will discourage students from getting into a car driven by anyone other than a guaranteed sober driver. While the Traveller program does an impeccable job of keeping students safe on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, these yellow flags could make a huge difference on days that Traveller buses don’t run or any time a party is held outside of Traveller’s route. Additionally, though it goes without saying that no designated driver should need cautioning, the yellow flag affixed to any driver’s car will serve as a constant reminder of his or her promise to stay sober.
Though Saturday was somewhat of a trial run for the new yellow flags, it seems they made a good start. Saturday’s sober drivers commented that most students looking for a ride still called the numbers sent via email, but that the yellow flags definitely distinguished their vehicles and ensured that passengers easily found their sober driver. The Executive Committee is working with the Promise Committee to facilitate the distribution of flags to W&L’s social organizations and has gotten confirmation from local police that cars marked with yellow flags will not be targeted. Once the flags have been distributed, recipients are to keep the flags for their next event. Though small, these yellow car flags are slated to make a big difference for students in Lexington. We hope to see this small change go a long way.