Spring Fling sees 168-percent increase in incidents from last year
Public Safety attributed the increase to better weather and increased documentation
April 15, 2012, 11:32 pm · Updated April 16, 2012, 11:19 pm·
This year’s Spring Fling weather brought more than just increased sunshine to campus.
Total incidents saw a 168-percent increase from last year — from 37 last year to 99 this year. These incidents, which include Penn Police citations and arrests, alcohol-related hospitalizations and disturbances and loud parties, occurred between 10:51 p.m. Friday and 2:28 a.m. Sunday. No incidents occurred Thursday night.
Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush attributed the increase to the warm weather over the weekend.
Chief of the Medical Emergency Response Team Daniel Spielman, a junior in the College, agrees that the weather played a definite role.
“Last year was particularly quieter because it rained all day,” he said. Due to this year’s weather, more people were outside so MERT could more easily identify those who needed medical assistance.
He added, “Comparing it to last year doesn’t mean anything to me.”
According to Rush, Saturday was the worst day for the weekend. “There were a lot of students tipping on the border of going to the hospital,” she said.
The number of parties that were shutdown by police also increased from eight to 44 this year.
These included large quantities of off-campus house parties that were forcibly shut down by police — the main problem this year, Rush said.
Penn Police arrested or issued citations to nine individuals this year, compared to zero last year. Additionally, there were 45 hospital cases this year, compared to last year’s 28. Both this year and last saw one incident undergoing investigation.
Rush believes the rise in crime was a normal fluctuation in comparison to previous years. There were 51 total incidents in 2010 and 38 in 2009.
She added DPS successfully cracked down on problem situations. “We did a lot better job of documenting instead of just shutting [parties] down and calling it a day,” she said.
However, Rush is disturbed by the rise in alcohol hospitalization cases. This year saw the most since 2009.
She believes it reflects a lot on society and isn’t something the police can fix. “We don’t control how people drink. There’s only so much we can do from a crime-prevention standpoint.”
DPS was notified of three block parties on Saturday — particularly one on Delancey Street — and prevented them. “Nothing good happens where there are hundreds of people drinking in the street,” she said.
Despite all the preventive measures undertaken, Rush said, “it was still pretty wild.”
There was also a large number of visiting students from other universities — another contributing factor in the incident numbers, she said.
Spielman said of this year’s numbers, “It’s obviously not a trend you want to see.”
However, he was pleased with the number of cases MERT treated and were prevented from going to the hospital.
The concert was particularly busy for MERT, and they dealt with a number of cases involving ecstasy. Spielman isn’t surprised considering the concert’s genre of electronic music.
Additionally, he believes medical amnesty has increased the number of reported incidents. People are more comfortable asking for help, something that doesn’t necessarily suggest an increase in actual substance abuse, Spielman said.
According to Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives Director Julie Lyzinski, there were relatively few incidents at official Fling events. She attributes this to her office’s initiatives in collaboration with the Vice Provost for University Life, DPS, MERT and FlingSafe volunteers.