The University of Dayton will increase police patrols and restrict residence hall visitors from March 13 to 17, as part of a plan to maintain order during anticipated St. Patrick’s Day festivities, officials said Tuesday.
Last year, more than 1,000 people were involved in a “disruptive, disorderly and destructive” event that “came out of nowhere,” said Bruce Burt, director of public safety and police chief at the university.
The event in UD’s student housing area left broken beer bottles and 11 damaged cars including a police cruiser on Kiefaber Street. Police from multiple jurisdictions responded to the event. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are not university-sanctioned, Burt added.
Since last year, officials have been discussing plans to address this year’s celebration, including meeting with a Philadelphia-based consultant who offered suggestions for improving university response.
UD has 30 sworn officers, 27 full-time and three part-time. All will be working 12 hour shifts and administrators also will be present.
“Our goal is to prevent it from happening again,” Burt said.
Many of the people involved in last year’s event were not students. To help curb out-of-town visitors, parking will be restricted throughout the weekend. “If they come here, they’re not going to be able to find a parking spot,” Burt said.
“Students who belong to our community have a far greater investment,” said Chris Schramm, dean of students. “We’re hoping they partner with us to keep our community safe.”
Burt said social media added to the convergence of people last year on Kiefaber. “We use social media monitoring as one tool in our toolbox,” he said.
Other new guidelines the university unveiled on Tuesday include:
- An increased public safety and student development staff presence in residence halls and student neighborhoods. The school is working with Sinclair Community College police, the Dayton Police Department and the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
- Students will be held responsible for their behavior and could be cited through court and student discipline systems. Sanctions could include fines, probation, suspension or expulsion and possible criminal charges. “Loss of merit scholarship can result from a first violation this weekend,” according to officials.
- Non students found in violation will be cited, removed from campus and ordered not to return under trespassing laws. They will be arrested if they come back.
- Officials will be checking university identification throughout the weekend.
- Letters were mailed to all students — on and off campus — and to parents emphasizing the need to: act responsibly, treat themselves and others with respect and follow the law.
- Additionally, the university has planned a variety of alcohol-free events as they did last year, Schramm said.
Junior Sarah Dickson said she and other students were embarrassed by last year’s events. “I don’t think students are proud of it and don’t want to see it happen again,” she said. Dickson said she planned to celebrate the day by hanging out with friends “responsibly.”
Senior Brian Bruening said he had friends come to celebrate last year but doesn’t plan to extend the invitation this year. Everyone, he said, has last year in the back of their minds and they don’t want to have a repeat.
“It’s better when everyone stays safe. I think the sentiment is to keep your friends at home and it’s going to be more domestic,” he said. “I think that’s kind of a direct result of last year.”
Bruening said he has been questioned by future employers about last year’s incident.
“It’s kind of hurting our reputation,” he said. “I don’t think any of my friends or anyone here is really proud of that moment.”
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