Twenty-two Penn students were taken to the hospital over Spring Fling weekend for alcohol-related reasons, according to the Division of Public Safety.
In addition to these students, 10 other individuals were treated for alcohol-related problems, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said. Some of these individuals were not affiliated with the University, and others were not transported to the hospital.
This weekend, there were 78 “Fling-related incidents” — which include citations, alcohol transports, criminal investigations and disturbances or loud parties. This is just six more incidents than the 72 reported at Spring Fling in 2013, but is significantly less than the 99 incidents in 2012.
In 2012, 45 students were sent to the hospital during Fling, as compared to the 22 sent both in 2013 and in 2014. However, only nine alcohol-related citations were given in 2012, as compared to the 33 issued by Penn Police and Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement officers in 2013. This Fling, the total number of citations was even higher, with 43 issued by BLCE or DPS officers.
Rush said the increase in citations from 2012 can be largely attributed to the increased presence of the BLCE on campus, which began at last year’s Fling. This year, the BLCE issued 35 of the 43 citations; in 2013, the state agency issued 31 of the 33 citations over Fling.
“The BLCE operates in a very different way from Penn Police Department. They are specialists in underage drinking and liquor laws in the state of Pennsylvania,” Rush said.
BLCE officers work covertly, without wearing uniforms or identifying themselves as officers, Rush said. They have been trained specifically to infiltrate parties and identify people who are drinking underage.
Before Fling this year, DPS held a meeting with seven or eight “problem houses” that had raised public safety concerns throughout the semester. The BLCE, the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life, and the Office of Student Conduct attended as well, all emphasizing the need for the houses to help promote a safe Spring Fling, Rush said.
“We wanted them to understand the potential consequences from the BLCE if they held tumultuous parties,” Rush said. “I think that students rightfully took notice and behaved accordingly.”
This year’s Spring Fling was “very successful” and “one of the best,” Rush said. “Although there were 24 people cited on Thursday and Friday nights, by Saturday people were out enjoying themselves instead of stumbling around and becoming ill.”
There were no criminal investigations of individuals related to Spring Fling this year, while there were five investigations conducted last year. Rush said she hadn’t heard of any property damage in the Quad this year, which has been a concern in previous years.
Seven of the 13 “loud parties/disturbances” over the weekend that caught DPS’s attention were shut down by Penn Police, Rush said. The rest of the parties were allowed to continue more calmly, at a lower volume that wouldn’t disturb members of the community, she added.
“On a few occasions, I and other police commanders approached houses and asked them to turn music down due to the late hour,” Rush said. “In every case, the houses cooperated.”
As to whether the BLCE will be at next year’s Fling, Rush said that the BLCE is its own agency and that it will have to make that decision when the time comes. “If the BLCE chooses to assist us next year, we will absolutely be happy to work with them,” Rush said.
Rush added that DPS was aware that many students also attended off-campus parties away from the West Philadelphia area over Fling weekend, and was hap py to see that they were using public transportation instead of driving.