While 31 students were cited Thursday night of Spring Fling weekend by state police officers, the citations did not continue during the two days of official Fling activities.
Officers of the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement — a division of the Pennsylvania State Police — issued no citations for underage drinking on Friday or Saturday. Instead, they choose to focus on “speakeasies” — houses selling alcohol — over the weekend, Dan Steele, district office commander of the BLCE’s Philadelphia office, said. The BLCE was unable to find any instances of students hosting a “speakeasy.”
Plainclothes BLCE officers entered two off-campus residences Thursday night, one on the 4000 block of Sansom Street and another on the 4000 block of Walnut Street. BLCE officers issued all 31 citations, but Penn Police officers employed by DPS were at the scene “to ensure order” and “to be representatives of the Penn community,” according to Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush.
In the Quadrangle — home of many Spring Fling musical acts and activities — AlliedBarton security guards and Penn Police officers were joined by several other branches of law enforcement, including emergency responders in uniform Rush said. No citations were written inside the Quad.
Director of Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives Julie Lyzinski Nettleton and Rush both said they did not have any knowledge of BCLE agents inside the Quad.
Steele said he did not know whether BLCE agents were stationed in the Quad on Friday and Saturday. Rush referred to the Quad as an “open place” that both BLCE and DPS officers were free to enter.
Before Fling, Rush stressed last week that “nothing’s changed about medical amnesty,” adding that amnesty does not cover students who become involved in a crime.
Nettleton said that while medical amnesty stipulates that students who request medical help for intoxication will not receive academic consequences through the Office of Student Conduct, it does not absolve students of potential legal consequences of revealing their criminal activity.
“Medical amnesty prevents University sanctions for students receiving medical treatment for alcohol or other drug intoxication. This University policy does not prohibit students from receiving legal sanctions,” Nettleton said in an email.
Hospitalizations due to alcohol fell to 22, from 45 last year.
Steele said he could not comment on whether medical amnesty would hold when the BLCE was dealing with intoxicated students, as the organization never had to deal with any cases related to this over the weekend.
Some students expressed concern that a citation or arrest on their record might pose a problem for potential employers. Director of Career Services Patricia Rose said that it is impossible to generalize about the effect a conduct violation or criminal conviction may have, since it varies by offense, contract signed and employer.
“If the conviction is for underage drinking, my sense is for many employers that would not be a deal breaker,” Rose said. “But you can’t generalize.”
She added that while some employers and graduate schools ask applicants whether they have been convicted of a crime or cited for a violation of a code of conduct, it is illegal to require applicants to admit to solely an arrest or criminal charge. She stressed that students with questions about their citation should be honest with their potential employers, and consider consulting an attorney.
“When in doubt as to whether to report to a school or to a prospective employer, we advise students to err on the side of caution and notify the school or employer, with an explanation that demonstrates maturity and a willingness to take responsibility for whatever the infraction might be,” Rose said in an email.
Rush said that the six “problematic” houses which sat down with the BLCE and DPS for a meeting several weeks ago about the liquor enforcement agency’s presence during Fling had no citations over the weekend.
The effort, she said, “achieved what our goal was,” which included fewer hospitalizations and disturbances.
“This was not a punitive measure. It was a safety measure,” she added.
In response to speculation that increased policing of underage drinking could push illegal activities further underground, Rush said that this fear should not deter action from legal authorities.
“We cannot sit idly by and watch as illegal or harmful activities effect our students on the fear that any change may prove harmful,” she said.
DPS became aware of the BLCE’s possible presence when Steele called Rush about a month ago and talked about the office’s interest in reducing underage drinking across the state. Rush said that the BLCE presented “an opportunity to partner to create a safer Fling.”
Steele said that his BLCE officers “took the lead from Penn Police” during the weekend. In contrast, Rush said that the BLCE acted “mostly on their own” when patrolling campus. She would not speculate as to what role the BLCE would play on campus in the future.
She noted, however, that even if DPS had not been receptive to their presence, they could still enforce state drinking laws as they wished. “If they come unannounced, which they can do any day of the week, we wouldn’t even know about it,” she added.
Steele noted that the BLCE’s presence might be felt in the coming months. “Our relationship with Penn Police is very strong,” he said, “and we hope to be able to work together in the future.”Comments powered by Disqus
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