No new Homecoming security measures despite ‘I’m Shmacked’
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 23:10
Despite recent “I’m Shmacked” events, security precautions taken by university police were not changed for last week’s homecoming festivities. Events including the football game, the homecoming rally and several Greek Life festivities took place throughout the week without any major problems.
Over the homecoming weekend, 47 incidents were reported by Public Safety, ranging from theft and assault to traffic violations. Of the 47 reports, 20 were alcohol-related, according to the Public Safety website. These figures represent a rise in both overall crimes reported by Public Safety and in alcohol cases specifically. During homecoming weekend in 2012, there were 34 crimes reported by Public Safety, of which 16 involved alcohol.
Patrick Ogden, the chief of police for the University of Delaware Police Department, said although security is routinely increased during homecoming weekend, there would be no other changes as a result of the “I’m Shmacked” incidents in early September. UDPD was busy with event security and assembly during most of the week, so the Newark Police Department provided assistance as well, Ogden said.
Ogden said in the past few years, tailgates for football games has become an increasingly problematic issue, as some people simply go to the game as a veil for a party, with no intention of actually entering a game.
The university has now separately defined a tailgate from a party, Ogden said. A tailgate, by the university’s definition, consists of food, drinks, attending the game and possibly, for those over 21, alcoholic beverages, he said.
The tailgate situation has improved over the years due to an increased focus by UDPD on crowds staying in the parking lot after kickoff, Ogden said, but there are drawbacks to that strategy.
“I think the problem is that we have just pushed them off campus, so now there are parties in houses as opposed to in the parking lot,” Ogden said. “It’s not that we are trying to ruin everyone’s good time, but there is dangerous behavior that goes on out there.”
Ogden said the relationship between UDPD and the Newark Police is closer than it ever has been, and the two organizations would be working in conjunction to keep students safe over the weekend.
Although Odgen said he did not anticipate incidents reminiscent of the Sept. 9 “I’m Shmacked” events, UDPD monitored social media over the weekend in attempts to manage possible disruptions.
The arrests following the “I’m Shmacked” visit to campus did not derail the Joint Agency Alcohol Initiative that was announced before the school year, Ogden said.
The initiative, in conjunction with the Newark Police Department, is designed to focus on large parties with possible dangerous behavior as opposed to a zero tolerance alcohol policy. The main concern continues to be student safety, Ogden said.
“The thing that keeps me up is I don’t want to have to call parents and tell them your son or daughter is in intensive care or in the morgue because they got intoxicated and walked out in front of a car or something like that,” Ogden said.
Ogden said he likes to compare drinking on campus with speeding. If someone is going five miles over the speed limit, it is similar to some friends having a beer or two in a dorm room—something Ogden said he is not overly concerned with. However, when someone is going 20 miles over the speed limit—or drinking excessively—that is when he becomes greatly concerned, Odgen said.
Provost Domenico Grasso said he did not expect any problems, which is why the police procedures were not changed outside of the normal homecoming increase.
He said punishments handed out to students after the “I’m Shmacked” incident were in line with student conduct policy, and they would be the same handed out to students found in violation during homecoming.
“We did not set a new precedent,” Grasso said. “The procedures and consequences were similar to our past practices. I am confident that our students in general know how to behave properly and responsibly and reflect the best of UD.”
Grasso said he believes the student body as a whole is better than the behavior displayed on Sept. 9, and he had faith they would live up to the high standards that the university has set for student conduct. Grasso said he hopes for an exciting and safe weekend for students, family and friends.
“The behavior of our students was disappointing,” Grasso said. “But we hope to learn from things like this. I am very proud to be here and I am proud of our students.”
After the festivities on Saturday, sophomore Sydney Scheiner said she thought police presence was not overwhelming, but she noticed some differences from last year.
Scheiner said she heard about several parties that were interrupted by police officers and shut down—something she did not see as often last year.
“I can’t positively say that there were more police or that they were stricter, but I know that more parties were busted,” Scheiner said. “Maybe they were just more vigilant [. . .] I think it could be a reaction to the riots. They would probably take a lot of precautions to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again.”