At least 30 students must attend court hearings due to the underage drinking citations they received at parties over Spring Fling weekend.
According to Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush, 31 citations were issued Thursday night by the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement — a branch of the state police — at two off-campus parties.
Division of Public Safety and the BLCE could not be reached by publishing time Sunday for comment or clarification on the exact number of citations issued throughout the rest of the weekend.
DPS officers were on hand while the citations were being written “to ensure order,” Rush said.
Everyone who was given citations either had a container of alcohol in their hand or admitted to drinking that night, according to DPS.
At one off-campus event on Thursday night, plainclothes BLCE officers entered the house, and separated those who were under 21 from those who were of age. Most under-21 attendees were issued citations for underage drinking, according to a freshman member of the student group that hosted the event.
He said that while others were asked about what they had to drink, the officer that questioned him did not do so, and he did not have a drink in his hand when police arrived. Instead, the freshman said, the officer asked another officer about what drink was in a keg at the party, and noted on the citation that the student was “observed possessing and/or consuming” Coors Light.
The student said he and several others are considering pleading not guilty at their court hearings because they did not admit to underage drinking at the time.
Another attendee of the same party said he was able to negotiate his way out of a citation. He added that several people expressed frustration that the BLCE had raided their smaller event, rather than larger open parties.
Rush described the parties which received the attention of state police as being “rambunctious and noisy.”
Citations were issued at the two houses to students both inside and outside, Rush said. She added that she was aware of students being cited at a Center City nightclub Thursday night, but said this event was not specifically part of the BLCE’s enforcement of liquor laws over Spring Fling weekend.
One sophomore was at a party thrown by his fraternity Saturday night, where he served as the point person when Philadelphia and Penn Police entered the house with the complaint that the music being played was too loud. The fraternity had consciously chosen to not serve alcohol at the party and to check PennCards of those entering the house to prevent undercover officers from entering, he said.
“It was simply a crackdown on social gatherings in general, which seems like a huge overstep on people’s rights to get together in a social setting without alcohol,” the sophomore said of the weekend’s police presence.
He added that police entered the house themselves by using PennCards which allow them swipe access to all Greek houses, and were not let in by anyone in attendance.
Medical Emergency Response Team Chief and College junior Maxwell Presser said that his organization responded to fewer calls during this year’s Spring Fling compared to the weekend last year.
“I believe the actions of the PA Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement definitely scared some people,” Presser said in an email.
He also cited the poor weather on Friday and reduced attendance at that day’s Spring Fling concert as a cause for the decline in calls.
Pennsylvania raised the penalties for underage drinking citations last fall. The maximum fine for the first offense is $500, and $1,000 for the second. A person cited also faces a potential driver’s license suspension on top of the fine. One of the freshmen at the Thursday night party, however, said that the officers issuing citations contradicted each other on the size of the fine and steps required to remove the citation from the student’s record. Each citation comes with a date to go before a judge.
The BLCE’s presence at Penn this weekend was part of a crackdown on underage drinking by the organization. In addition to actions at Penn, there has been an increased campus presence at Temple, St. Joseph’s and La Salle universities.
District Officer Commander Dan Steele of the BLCE’s Philadelphia office promised a zero-tolerance policing of underage drinking before Spring Fling weekend.
The BLCE also gave out a combined 143 citations for underage drinking at two Philadelphia Phillies games this season.
Anyone wishing to comment or with additional information about police activity during Fling weekend should contact authors Alex Zimmermann at (301) 520-2700 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and Harrison Fallon at (703) 489-3581 or email@example.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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