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Penn Fling Credit: Rachel Bleustein

Undercover cops, deported international students and the arrest of fraternity presidents — these were just some of many rumors that circulated campus during last year’s Spring Fling.

The Undergraduate Assembly recently formed a Commission on Alcohol Safety and Communication to increase transparency at this year’s Fling festivities and prevent the types of rumors that abounded last year. But despite clarifying some information about alcohol policy, concerns remain over this year’s Fling alcohol-related initiatives.

One of the main issues was that during Fling last year, fraternities were not adequately informed about whether or not they could register events until the last minute, said the co-chairs of the commission, College sophomore Daniel Kahana and College junior Andrew Robertson.

This year, the policy is much clearer. The University will allow eight registered events with alcohol for the entire weekend of Fling — four Greek and four non-Greek. Some students find the concept of eight registered parties for an undergraduate student body of almost 10,000 to be unrealistic.

“In the grand scheme of things, these events can only hold a certain number of people — even for students who are 21, [eight parties aren’t] enough,” Robertson said.

As a caveat to this year’s policy, the ratio of Greek to non-Greek registered events must be equal — so for every Greek event registered, there must also be a non-Greek party registered. “I don’t think it should be a requirement to have non-Greek events in order to have Greek events,” Robertson said, adding that most student groups aren’t hosting the same type of social events as fraternities.

Students have raised several reasons as to why expecting non-Greek student groups to host an equal number of registered parties could be problematic.

“I think it’s kind of stupid to have it be a one for one ratio,” College sophomore and 34th Street writer Harley Geffner said. “There are a lot more Greek organizations that will want to throw registered parties, and a lot of those places don’t have houses to do it at even if they wanted to — it just doesn’t make sense.”

It is difficult for most student groups to host registered parties because they cannot use the Student Activities Council funding they receive to pay for alcohol as part of University policy.

On and off campus, Penn Police and Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement agents, both undercover and not, will monitor parties and alcohol consumption. Guest riders from some agencies such as VPUL and Penn Athletics will also tag along. This is the third year the BLCE will be on campus for Fling weekend.

The BLCE’s purpose on campus is to enforce state liquor laws. Young undercover agents may enter houses to observe whether liquor laws are being broken, and undercover Penn Police officers are more focused on watching for individuals who may want to take advantage of students over the course of the weekend. The BLCE did not return requests for comment before the time of publication.

The commission co-chairs said they had proposed an event on the College Green where students over 21 could be served beer in a safe and supervised environment, like the senior class’ annual Octoberfest event. But the proposal was rejected by administrators, they said.

Both co-chairs ultimately expressed discontent at the administration’s hesitancy to allow parties and other events with alcohol to be registered.

“Drinking is going to happen anyway — nothing they do is going to stop alcohol consumption and things that students do during Fling. Anything they can do to make sure it’s safer for the students should be done,” Kahana said.

They added that having a limited number of registered events makes it so that students do more off-campus drinking, where they will be away from University resources such as the Medical Emergency Response Team.

For some, the rules associated with partying on campus makes going off campus the more desirable option.

Fling’s off-campus parties, even though they aren’t registered, will still be subjected to much scrutiny from Penn Police and the BLCE, according to the Division of Public Safety.

“Yes, the BLCE is very much aware of the Spring Fling season for all the universities including Penn,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said. “They are looking forward to meeting our students who are wanting to meet them.”

Rush said that DPS’s goal for Fling is to ensure that students have a fun and safe time, and that off-campus parties done in a moderate way with safety precautions in place will not experience trouble from the BLCE or Penn Police. “However, if you are hosting a party that is getting numerous calls for noise to the Penn Police, or if we’re taking people to the hospital, the Penn Police and [B]LCE will take action.”

As it concerns on-campus parties, Rush said DPS will be working with the College Houses and Academic Services, the Vice Provost for Student Life and MERT to insure students’ safety. Rush said as well that medical amnesty is granted for students who call for help from MERT or Penn Police and those who receive help due to over-intoxication. “You will be appreciated for saving someone’s life, and you will not be cited,” she said.

“If your house is having a manageable party, you can have a great time,” Rush said. “If your house has a backyard that has 500 people, and people that are loud and throwing bottles at 1 or 2 a.m., you will come to Penn Police’s attention.”

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