It may have been a big weekend for nightly festivities among students, but for Penn’s Division of Public Safety, Hallo-weekend was business as usual.
In past years, the weekend before Halloween has not shown any significant uptick in crime, DPS Vice President and Superintendent of Penn PoliceMaureen Rush said. Because of this, she explained that no additional police patrol shifts were added this year and the weekend of Oct. 27-29 would be treated like a normal weekend.
“I don’t see Halloween as being problematic here,” Rush said. “I don’t look at it as another Spring Fling weekend.”
College sophomore Kevin Rosen agreed that Halloween is not a particularly dangerous time of year at Penn. He said that last year, there were plenty of groups outside at night and that he never felt unsafe.
The weekend did not require extra security measures on campus, Rush said, but Philadelphia security officials and business owners are extra vigilant during the holiday.
“People have costumes on, and people have masks on,” she said. “I think store-owners are usually aware to be cautious. All across, the city police departments have heightened sense of security.”
She also noted that trouble on Halloween night itself would likely be limited, since it falls on a Tuesday this year.
Since 2012, an average of 16 crimes have been reported each year during the weekend of Halloween, the Penn Almanac reported. During this span of time, there were 15 or fewer crimes reported every year, with the exception of 2015 when there were 26 crimes reported. Out of the 26, 12 were citations for underage drinking, and all of these citations occurred at the same location.
Rush said that while many students consume alcohol and throw parties for Halloween, event observers who patrol campus three nights a week to locate parties that break University regulations for social events, did not operate by different protocols. Rush added that in her view, the event observers have been doing an effective job, and this weekend would be “business as usual.”
President Amy Gutmann recently clarified that the purpose of event observers and other recommendations from the Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community is to keep students "safe," though some students disagree.
Rosen said the new event restrictions have motivated students to organize and attend parties in off-campus locations, which he thinks has made Halloween more unsafe this year.
“If it forces people downtown or off campus, it will be worse because you’re further from home; you’re with people you don’t know as well; you’re with people who might not be taking care of you,” he said.
College sophomore Karina Valadez agreed, adding that the new rules restricting social events at Penn are not an effective response to Penn’s social scene, and that students have continued to break the rules.
“If there’s a will there’s a way,” Valadez said. “They are going to find a way to keep partying.”
College sophomore Charlie Dolgenos agreed that in the context of Halloween, the presence of event observers encourages students to attend off-campus social events. He also added that he thinks the new rules on campus will worsen alcohol consumption by students, citing observations his friend made at a recent registered event.
“It literally increased binge drinking because people were just going to different parts of the party [away from observers] and, just like, quickly chugging a bit of a handle, and then going back to the [main area of the] registered party,” he said.
In response to these comments, Rush said that in her view, students attending off-campus social events at bars and clubs is not a concerning security issue because these venues have regulations that students must comply with.
“If they go downtown and work with a restaurant or a bar, they are working as an organized party, so they need to comply with the rules of the bar,” Rush said.