Safe Night program looks to improve nightlife

Featured Image: Madison Dzwonkowski and friends enjoy a night out in
the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area. Madison Dzwonkowski 

A huge part of the college life experience is going out with your friends on the weekends, and the Marlins have some of the best locations around. However, it could be challenging to know where the best place to go is, especially while safety is still a top priority. 

The Downtown Norfolk Council (DNC) is now partnering with Safe Night LLC to develop and install safety protocols in the Norfolk area. 

The Safe Night Out program has been noticed and applied in Arlington, Va., Dallas, Texas and now Norfolk, Va.

SafeNight is confident that their practices help in reducing alcohol related harm, establishing trust between businesses and the community, training active bystanders, partnering with public transportation and influencing bar and restaurant staff to comply with the laws. 

This type of program is being implemented to boost the city’s night time economy and improve the relationships and safety between businesses and its customers. 

Due to the differences in operations, the beta phase of this program includes business in the downtown area, including Bacter’s, Brothers and Legacy Restaurant and Lounge. Eventually more businesses will be added, and the model will be extended beyond the entertainment district. 

Legacy Restaurant and Lounge experienced a huge operational change, after a quadruple shooting in August of 2021. As they had just reopened in February of that year, the DNC left a zoning certificate on the business, allowing them to operate with zero alcohol sales, no entertainment and no late hours, ensuring the safety of the community. 

The Safe Night LLC has also hosted training in the past with businesses, and its staff, to enable the program.

This type of program could benefit the community, however, the Marlins don’t believe this will benefit any of the businesses around campus. 

On an Instagram poll, students were asked if they have ever been to these businesses before and they all replied with, “No.” The most popular businesses for our student body included: PBR Waterside, Mojo Bones, Ballyhoos, Hot Tuna and Central Shore.

“Installing something like this may stop people from getting violent at the bars, but it could also result in a loss of profit too,” junior Morris Albritton said. 

Bouncers, however, are there for a reason. Patrons entering an establishment must abide by the rules in place regarding weapons and behaviors, especially as they are about to impair their judgment with alcohol. 

Junior Avery Sutherland said, “I was at Mojo’s one night, and a guy was like, ‘I got my Glock’ and I feel like right there the bounce shouldn’t have even let him in. The guy shouldn’t have even brought his gun in the first place. But, since the bouncers knew the guy, they just let him in. That makes others feel unsafe.”

Safety is a huge issue that should be enforced with bouncers and bartenders. We asked the interviewees what they and their group of friends do in order to ensure they are all safe. 

“My friends and I just have a group chat and when we can’t find someone we just text each other,” Albritton said.

“We ALWAYS use the buddy system. Say someone needs to use the bathroom, we all go together or if we are in a larger group two people will go together. Even if we need a breath of fresh air or want another drink, someone always goes with another person, no one gets left alone. My friends and I always have a DD for the night, and alternate, so we always know when everyone gets home, since we are all together,” Sutherland said. 

Just by these two answers we can observe that girls are more cautious and aware when they go out to business like the ones in the Safe Night Out program rather than boys. 

We also opened up a poll on Instagram asking students “What makes you feel safest when going out on the weekends?” A very popular answer was going with a big group of people they know, whether it be friends or a significant other. 

SafeNight is sought to either thrive or completely miss the nightlife area in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. If the community took it seriously, and looked at the brighter picture, it would definitely make a change.

There is always room for improvement, especially in the entertainment industry; night life is supposed to be fun. People are not supposed to get hurt, or risk their lives.

There is so much violence and unsafety in the world, that it’s hard to know what businesses are trustworthy to go to. If the businesses who participate in this program advertised they are working with SafeNight, students would feel comfortable going there as well.

By Madison Dzwonkowski