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As of March 20th, the University began bag checks to everyone entering the quad prior to Spring Fling. In the past years, the process has begun earlier and earlier as the administration attempts to curb alcohol and alcohol related problems during fling. In the recent past, students have attempted to enter the Quad with alcohol in packages as diverse as guitar cases or food deliveries. Credit: Gustavo Centeno

Bag checks in the Quad began at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning — almost a week later than last year .

The later start to bag checks and a new room check policy mark the University’s new approach to ensuring student safety during Spring Fling this year.

“Later bag checks doesn’t mean we’re not keeping an eye on things,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

Fisher-Hassenfeld House Dean April Herring explained that the decision was made to allocate resources elsewhere.

This year, residential and graduate advisors began room checks to make a “visual inspection for stolen furniture, tampered smoke detectors and alcohol,” according to an e-mail sent to some residents by Fisher Hassenfeld residential advisor Christine Nieves.

One Ware College House resident — who wished to remain anonymous to avoid tension with his RA — had a bottle of vodka confiscated during a room check. “Such a measure ... should be firm across the board,” he said. “I know some students who had the luck to have nicer RAs get off with just a note.”

In addition to room checks, the Division of Public Safety, Penn’s college houses and the Office of Alcohol and Drug Program Initiatives are working to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents over Fling weekend.

Efforts include campaigns to promote safe and healthy behaviors and advising on the consequences of not following University policy and state law.

Herring also said University administrators have “developed strategies” to respond to incidents of “egregious behavior” in a more immediate fashion. Rush declined to elaborate on the specifics of the strategies.

Last year, the Medical Emergency Response Team set up an “observation area” in the Quad to provide medical aid to the heavily intoxicated or injured, according to Herring. MERT will again have a presence in the Quad this year, as well as at Friday’s concert at Franklin Field.

Also observing the Quad and concert grounds will be state police from the Liquor Control Enforcement Agency.

“The officers from the LCE are undercover police who look like college-age kids, and they will infiltrate parties,” Rush said. “They have full access to cite students for incidents.”

According to Rush, LCE has been coming to Penn’s campus since the mid-1990s, and not just during Fling.

If charged, students stand to have their driver’s licenses suspended for up to three months, regardless of the state in which it was issued. They may also have to pay a fine. Rush added that international students will not be exempt.

Rush also said bar owners are working closely with DPS to confiscate “IDs that look illegal.”

“Our goal is to ensure the highest level of security, and make sure our kids will be medically OK,” she said.

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