The Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement for the District of Philadelphia will “likely” be on campus during Spring Fling again this year, continuing last year’s presence of undercover officers, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.
In addition to the undercover officers, Penn Police officers, Philadelphia police and fire department will also be on campus throughout the weekend of April 11.
Last year, the Bureau issued 31 citations to students at two off-campus parties. All students either admitted to drinking or had an open container of alcohol in their hand.
An underage drinking citation carries a $500 - $1000 fine for the first offense, as well as a 90-day driver’s license suspension - even if the license is from a state other than Pennsylvania - and in some cases, alcohol education and community service. Furnishing alcohol to minors carries a penalty of $1,000 for the first violation and a fine of $2,500 for each subsequent violation and up to a year in jail.
While the undercover officers are making a return appearance, Rush said DPS has taken a critical look at Fling security and may make some changes. Each year, the DPS puts together a program to critique the event for future reference.
“Any special event - regardless of what the event is, annual events like Spring Fling, the Penn Relays and Commencement - we look at after ... Do we have enough officers, etc. ? What would we change in the future?” Rush said.
Last year, DPS focused on Quad security because there had been records of property damage in the college houses. Only Quad residents were allowed to enter the buildings. As part of a coordinated response, the college houses, with Penn Police, succeeded in reducing property damages in the Quad, Rush said
DPS will also work cooperatively with the college houses and the Vice Provost for University Life and the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives this year, Rush said.
Penn’s Medical Emergency Response Team has been planning their Fling strategy for several weeks.
“There are lots of components to Fling, and it is very important that we plan well in advance to ensure smooth operations and adequate coverage,” MERT Captain and College junior Omar Sobh said in an email.
In addition to outreach events in the days leading up to Fling, the team will work alongside DPS, the Social Planning and Events Committee, Student Health Services and several other organizations.
MERT will expand their normal service hours and be in service 24 hours a day from April 10 to 12, and multiple crews will be on duty at all times to minimize response times. All MERT volunteers are required to volunteer for at least one shift during Spring Fling. Penn’s alcohol amnesty policy ensures that students will not be penalized when they call for medical assistance for themselves or a friend who is severely intoxicated.
This means that Penn Police will not arrest the student who called police under the medical amnesty policy or the one who was intoxicated. However, if students were to break other laws - such as assaulting another person - while in the presence of police officers, they would be arrested for that offense.
“As we know spring fling over the years has had its challenges. I have to say it’s gotten much more organized and less chaotic than it has been in past years,” Rush said. “The main concern here is to make sure everyone Flings safely.”
This article has been updated to clarify that Penn Police will not arrest students for intoxication if they call for medical amnesty.