City curfew spares NSO

Penn Police plans to keep the curfew from affecting New Student Orientation

· August 30, 2011, 10:09 pm   ·  Updated September 7, 2011, 1:34 am

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Incoming freshmen need not worry that the temporary 9 p.m. Philadelphia curfew will interfere with New Student Orientation.

The citywide curfew, enacted by Philadelphia Mayor and Penn alumnus Michael Nutter on Aug. 9, subjects all minors aged 13-17 to a 9 p.m. curfew on weekends in Center City and University City from 38th to 43rd streets between Baltimore Avenue and Market Street. Aimed to combat recent flash mob violence, the curfew is in effect until Sept. 3. While it does apply to Penn students under 18, it should not create any problems during NSO, according to the Division of Public Safety.

“We don’t think this should impede anyone’s freshman experience … No one should have any problem going to any of the NSO orientation events,” Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

NSO coordinators are working with DPS, the Vice Provost for University Life and others “to ensure that everyone is aware of the curfew and that it doesn’t impede NSO events,” NSO Director David Fox wrote in an email. “My expectation is that everything will proceed as planned.”

DPS sent an email to all incoming freshmen Monday, informing them of the curfew ordinance. A mandatory Safe Living workshop will be held during NSO on Sept. 2 to give students an update on the curfew and other safety information.

“If you’re under 18 and want to go to the library, want to get something to eat, use the escort service [PennWalk],” Rush said. All students are also advised to carry their PennCards along with another form of identification stating their age. If stopped by any police in the city — such as SEPTA, Drexel or Philadelphia Police — students should state they are Penn students and “tell them to call the Penn Police.”

Underage students should also avoid going to Center City after 9 p.m., particularly if they are alone, Rush said. “We can advocate for them in the University City area if they are stopped … It will be a lot harder in Center City to explain to police. It will be very difficult for us to assist you in Center City under the [temporary] curfew.”

The curfew has raised concern about safety within the incoming freshman class, but students don’t believe it will keep them from enjoying NSO.

“I don’t think it’s going to change my plans,” College and Wharton freshman Arynne Wexler said. “I was already planning on going out with a group … it just highlights the fact we need to be careful with safety and security when going out.”

While the new curfew has been a “useful tool” in preventing flash mobs, it is not expected to be extended again, according to Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald. The regular school-year curfew — which has been in effect since 1955 — will be enforced after Labor Day; minors aged 13-17 will be subject to a 10:30 p.m. weekday curfew and a midnight weekend curfew.

“We haven’t had any flash mob problems,” McDonald said. “It’s sent a message to parents and young people that they need to observe the curfew, and they face real consequences if they engage in that kind of violent behavior.”

McDonald also noted that police officers will be “enforcing the curfew in a more aggressive way” this year, but would “use their best judgment,” in areas around Penn’s campus.

“I think the best advice is to follow the curfew law and socialize on campus,” he said. “I don’t think Penn students are going to be a problem for the police department, but it’s all a matter of behavior.”

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