Saturday, April 26, 2003

OSU students warned not to party too hearty



The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Ohio State University officials have set up video cameras in strategic locations and are making plans to bring in extra police and liquor agents to keep parties under control this weekend.

The university's annual African-American Heritage Festival, a street party known as Chit Fest and the Buckeyes' spring football game are expected to bring thousands of people to the campus area today.

Last year, 26 people were arrested and seven students were suspended as a result of disturbances during Chit Fest.

The event is named for Chittenden Avenue, a street near campus. Chittenden Avenue is six blocks from a residence where five students were killed earlier this month in a fire that's been ruled an arson.

University officials have prepared for the weekend by having student "ambassadors" and police canvass neighborhoods and ask for cooperation. Ribbons have been given to students who pledged not to "be destructive to my community."

"We intend to try to do a better job of identifying people who are breaking the law," said Bill Hall, OSU's vice president of student affairs.

The university isn't saying where or how many cameras to record parties have been set up.

Hall said small parties are fine, but he's concerned about events for which several kegs of beer are purchased and crowds spill into the streets.

"When they (parties) get big, we know from past experience that the students can't control them," Hall said. "It's naive to think you can."

He said parties should be limited to one keg of beer.

About 20 cars were damaged and 49 people were arrested in campus-area rioting last fall after Ohio State's football victory over Michigan. That led to creation of a task force which this month issued recommendations to prevent disturbances.

Last week, Hall sent a letter asking parents of students to tell their children to call off large parties and warning that students could be immediately suspended if they are arrested or caught "endangering the safety of the community by hosting a party that gets out of control."

The letter also said Columbus police are prepared to make mass arrests if necessary.




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