College pushes safe partying tips

The Dean of Students office hosted a presentation on tips for safe partying on Monday, Oct. 17. The talk, titled “Party Smart,” featured speakers who offered advice on all aspects of party culture and life. 42 students were in attendance.

At least one student from every house, off-campus location, or dorm in the North Village I, North Village II and Allegheny Commons was required to attend, though the event was open to all.

Michael Tautin, assistant chief of police for the city of Meadville, offered the perspective of a police officer on party culture.

“It’s all about being a good neighbor,” Tautin said. “I just wanted to open people’s eyes to the reality that is. You have families that live in your neighborhoods, and their right to peace sometimes overrides your right to party.”

The Party Smart talks are a continuing event that happen every semester, according to Kimberly Ferguson, dean of students and vice president of student affairs. The talks started in the spring 2016 semester, and were modeled after a similar event that Ferguson helped coordinate at Ohio State University.

Ferguson developed the series of talks as an information session to ensure that students who lived off campus understood the expectations of the local police department, Public Safety and the community.

According to Ferguson, the number of calls and complaints made resulting from the use of alcohol or partying has decreased significantly.

“We want to say thank you to the students for being great citizens,” Ferguson said.

A handout was given out to students who attended the talk, which included the Allegheny College Alcohol Policy, guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, tips for “Responsible Partying,” common citations issued for Meadville public offenses and tips for avoiding contact with the police as a result of partying. A checklist for safe partying and a small recipe guide for snacks was also included.

The amnesty policy was highlighted in the talk and the brochure. Under Allegheny College’s amnesty policy, students who seek help for their peers with drug or alcohol poisoning, sexual assault or violence will not be sanctioned by the college for drug or alcohol violations.

Assistant Dean of Students Joe Hall provided the registration policy for parties, and outlined the regulations for the total amount of alcohol per person allowed at any given time.

After the talk, Tautin described a typical process of police involvement with underage drinking. An officer faced with this scenario may choose to arrest the student and issue a citation.

“If you are disorderly in public, and a danger to yourself or other people, you can also get a public drunkenness [citation], which means we have to house you for six hours until you sober up or are sober enough to be released to your own devices,” Tautin said.

The most common factor in any police citation tends to be alcohol, according to Tautin, who has worked with Meadville Police for 17 years.

“When we have to deal with something, it’s usually alcohol-related, whether it’s partying, littering, underage drinking, or arguments,” Tautin said. “Most of the domestic disputes I’ve gone to had alcohol involved.”

Director of Public Safety Ali Awadi described a new policy directed at linking students with Meadville emergency medical services.

“In the past, students have called to ask us to take them to the Meadville Medical Center,” Awadi said. “We are going to come and we are going to call EMS to take you.”

With only one or two public safety officers on duty at any given time, any officer occupied with transporting a student from campus to the hospital would result in a lack of coverage for the rest of the campus, according to Awadi.

Furthermore, any officer that transports a student in a medical emergency becomes liable for anything that happens to that student during the trip. The policy is the same for most police departments, including the Meadville City Police department, according to Awadi.

“If anything happens on the way [to a hospital], we’re not trained to deal with it,” Tautin said. “So we bring EMS to you, and they provide constant care from wherever they pick you up all over to the hospital.”

The message, according to Ferguson and Tautin, was that any student holding a party should let their neighbors know, and plan in advance for anything that might happen.