Although Spring Fling weekend tends to see a rise in illicit activity among students, Penn Police Captain Gerald Leddy explained that “enforcement isn’t the main priority — safety is.”
Though the Division of Public Safety does not plan on significantly altering its Fling procedures this year, students can expect to see a larger DPS presence of both Allied Barton and Penn Police officers than usual throughout campus.
Last year, 51 fling-related incidents were reported, including 30 alcohol hospitalizations. The figure was a 34-percent increase from 2009’s 38 incidents and marked the second rise in a row.
Officers have already started checking bags and making sure that passes and IDs match, Leddy said. He explained that DPS has restricted officers from taking days off during Fling weekend in order to ensure that they have a full force.
Penn’s Medical Emergency Response Team will be present as always and will have a tent stationed at tonight’s concert.
Most students responded positively to the knowledge that DPS would be widely visible during Fling. Engineering freshman Thomas Muse felt that the added security was “a good step in making sure all the students and their guests stayed safe.”
However, Wharton freshman Alex Witkoff does not look forward to the long lines to enter the Quadrangle on Friday and Saturday and feels that the bag checking at the Quad gates is “slightly excessive.”
But though “it’s a hassle, it’s necessary for our safety,” College freshman Allie Houlihan added.
Leddy explained that DPS’ presence during Fling is essential because in the crowded Quad, “horseplay can turn into an injury.”
He stressed that the Quad, which tends to get crowded and messy as the scene of the weekend’s festivities, is still a student residence. “We have to remember that it’s someone’s front yard,” Leddy added.
As to Friday night’s concert, “DPS waits as eagerly to hear the Fling concert musicians as the students,” Leddy said with enthusiasm. Unlike in previous years, however, this year students will be limited to mobilizing within their ticketed seating section “purely for safety reasons.”
Because most of last year’s hospital check-ins were from unaffiliated high-school aged children, this year DPS has made an effort to keep them from coming to the concert alone. To attend the concert, they will have to be “sponsored” by someone older.
Leddy explained that DPS works very closely with Social Planning and Events Committee, “almost from the inception of trying to get the theme.”
SPEC co-director of Spring Fling and College junior Eileen Feng maintained that “safety is our number one priority, and we don’t want to see any serious accidents happen at this fun event.” She added that Flingsafe — a group of students trained to provide assistance to others in trouble — “is ready to go.”
DPS made it clear that it condones safe fun and hopes students will watch over their friends. “Just because it’s Fling doesn’t mean you can walk around alone at 3:30 a.m.,” Leddy said.
But in the spirit of keeping everyone safe and healthy, “medical amnesty is not waived for Spring Fling, and if someone is in need, you should call” for medical assistance, Leddy said.