For Administrators

WHAT IS failsafe?

FailSafe is a web-based toolkit that engages and empowers student leaders to assess, manage, and reduce high risk drinking behaviors among members of their student organization.

The toolkit takes student leaders through four stages of the FailSafe process so they can: 1) assess their organization’s collective risk and the individual risk level of group members, 2) interpret feedback from the assessment and identify their organization’s alcohol-use patterns, 3) implement risk-management practices, and 4) measure progress in reducing alcohol-related incidents, changing unsafe behavior, and improving the overall health and well-being of their organization.

Stages of the failsafe Process

The process includes four stages. The first stage is Assessment and Planning.  Creating awareness of collective and individual vulnerability to harm and negative consequences; Making a plan to decrease vulnerability by establishing or refining risk-management activities. The second stage is Individual and Group Feedback. Helping individuals and the group as a whole see their alcohol use patterns in order to make individual and collective decisions without judgment or accusation. The third stage is Adoption/Refinement of Risk-Management Practices. Working with group members to put proven strategies and best practices in place to reduce the risk of harm and negative consequences. The fourth stage is Measuring Success. Measuring progress in reduced incidents, changes in behavior, and the overall health of the organization.

How Does failsafe Work?

There are nine tools in the FailSafe toolkit that guide student leaders to enhance their awareness of their organization’s unmanaged risk-taking with alcohol and to take action by engaging their organization’s leaders and membership to create change. The goal of the tools isn’t to make students of legal age stop drinking entirely, but to empower them to make conscious changes to the way they manage risks, enable high risk alcohol use among members, and intercede when situations appear to be headed for negative outcomes.

The tools include:

  • Member Alcohol Profile: An assessment and feedback tool that helps each member of a student organization become aware of their risks related to alcohol use. The tool also provides the organization’s leaders with a profile of the group’s risk-taking in order to identify and address potential problems.
  • Leader Awareness and Planning Tool: An assessment tool to help student organization leaders identify common group practices that can lead to potentially serious consequences.
  • Group Feedback Tool: A tool to help student leaders talk to members about their risk-taking in ways that foster insight and collaboration and minimize defensiveness.
  • Living Policies Tool: A set of templates to help student leaders communicate and model policies that reduce risks in group and individual activities.
  • Risk Mentor Tool: Guidance for having planned conversations between older, more experienced risk-takers and newer, younger members to build skills related to expectations, assessing risk, and making better choices.
  • Stepping In Tool: Templates and talking points to help members intervene with each other when things may be getting out of hand.
  • Party Planner Tool: A complete planning tool to help student organizations host formal and informal events where everyone has fun and the risk of problems is diminished.
  • Check-In Tool: Approaches to confronting a member after a failed risk to help them recognize the impact and make new choices. Includes resources for student leaders and group members.
  • Success Measure Tool: Guidance for measuring a student organization’s success in becoming FailSafe and communicating successes to members, administrators, and others.

Members of student organizations that are participating in FailSafe complete the Member Alcohol Profile at the beginning and the end of the semester (or academic year) to help measure the impact of the program.

Student leaders from across the country connect and share experiences through a private Facebook group.

How Does FailSafe Benefit Your Institution?

FailSafe benefits include the following:

  • Enhances and supports institutional efforts to address high-risk drinking on campus and in the community, and is aligned with best practices and evidence-based strategies.
  • Enables students, especially those in groups known to engage in high-risk drinking, to actively participate in addressing these issues autonomously.
  • Provides your institution with a way to engage and leverage high-risk student groups in addressing the harm and consequences related to their alcohol use.
  • Encourages student leaders to work collaboratively with others on campus and in the community to address high-risk drinking and related harm.
  • Serves as an opportunity for leadership development and can serve as a co-curricular opportunity for students involved in formal leadership programs on campus.
  • Encourages students to access campus resources such as peer education, health promotion, judicial affairs, student leadership development, and counseling services.

What Are We Asking You to Do As a Participating Institution?

Participating in FailSafe does not require university staff time or resources, although providing guidance and support to student leaders is suggested. The following are a few ways you can support the program:

  • Encourage student organizations, especially those that have had problems related to alcohol use, to participate in the program. While we do not recommend using FailSafe as a sanction, it can be offered to student organizations, including fraternities, as a resource to assist them when problems emerge.
  • The personalized feedback each student receives after completing the Member Alcohol Profile is most effective when it compares the individual student’s drinking rates, average and high blood alcohol content, and normative perceptions with those of the student body at your institution. If you have such data for your institution, we would like to use the data for this purpose.
  • Offer to meet with student leaders who are participating in FailSafe to hear about their progress, advise them as they make discoveries or face challenges, and encourage them as they seek to change their policies and practices related to alcohol use. Your support and encouragement as an administrator can go a long way to help student leaders create change.

Creating a Supportive Environment for FailSafe

Research and evaluation of effective high-risk drinking prevention efforts in college communities suggests that interventions like FailSafe work best when part of a comprehensive environmental strategy. Comprehensive environmental strategies focus on creating clear community standards related to alcohol use and intoxicated behavior—standards that are consistently enforced and adjudicated across the campus and the surrounding community.

While all student organizations can benefit from participating in FailSafe, institutions where administrators are able to answer “yes” to the following questions are more likely to be able to support the program, thereby increasing the chances for success.

  • Does your institution use environmental management strategies (policy, education, enforcement) to address alcohol use on campus?
  • Is there active enforcement and adjudication of alcohol polices on campus and in the surrounding community?
  • Do your student leaders know that their organizations are vulnerable to campus and community actions in response to high-risk or illegal behaviors?
  • Is there campus-wide awareness of efforts to address high-risk drinking on campus and in the surrounding community?
  • Does your institution apply judicial sanctions for student organization violations of the campus drug and alcohol policy? Does your policy include jurisdiction for student organization activities off campus?
  • Are there on-campus resources for students who want to change their drinking behavior, including dependency assessment and treatment or referral to treatment resources?
  • Are there leadership development resources and supports for leaders of student organizations?

What’s most important is a willingness to support student leaders who want to try out FailSafe and see how it benefits their student organization.

Want more information or guidance on making your campus FailSafe? Contact Linda Major at or 402.472.3755.


Funded through a generous grant by:

Sponsored and managed by:
University of Nebraska - Lincoln Student Affairs