RUSA addresses security on campus, Rutgersfest concerns
All outdoor on-campus events scheduled for Friday, April 20 are canceled because of concerns that students may emulate Rutgersfest through parties and makeshift festivals.
Campus Dean of Students Tim Grimm said at the Rutgers University Student Assembly meeting yesterday that a University task force is taking preventative measures against Rutgersfest replacements, such as “Ragefest.”
“After last year’s Rutgersfest there’s been great concern, especially since students intended to hold it anyway,” Grimm said at the Student Activities Center River Lounge on the College Avenue campus.
Grimm said he realizes much of the problems the University faced last year — particularly the multiple shootings that occurred on the College Avenue campus — were not because of University students.
“We understand that most of the problems weren’t related to Rutgersfest,” he said. “It was mostly high school students who heard Rutgers was party city on that day.”
Grimm said the task force wants to keep students safe, not restrict them.
“Our concern is not with the students and how they celebrate,” Grimm said. “Our intent is not to control off-campus students. Our intent is to stop the kinds of behavior that cause the most significant problems.”
Everyone wants to do whatever is possible to create a safe campus but it is a little superstitious to preemptively cancel all events to prevent crime, said RUSA vice president John Connelly.
“They made the month of April a taboo,” Connelly, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
Connelly said he wished the task force consulted with the student body and had gotten more student feedback before coming up with this decision.
Grimm said the task force has collaborated with local law enforcement and landlords in order to ensure that those significant problems are prevented.
Grimm said students should keep parties in control, emphasizing that it would help the goals of the task force greatly.
“If you’re having a house party, please keep it confined to you and your friends,” he said. “I don’t think any of us want people coming here to trash our campus, fire off guns and possibly hurt someone and cause damage that ultimately you have to pay for,” Grimm said.
Connelly said he thinks people will still have house parties but a solution suggested during the meeting was having the University host a non-alcoholic campus event for students.
Grimm said no outdoor events can be held April 20 because it is one of the dates identified as most likely for widespread parties.
“General rules apply,” Grimm said, referring to students may throw parties off campus. “We are working to have extra police throughout the evening and day to ensure things don’t get out of control.”
Grimm said the task force does not intend to punish University students for the actions of others after the final Rutgersfest.
“I’m looking for safety of students on a day that’s been getting worse and worse and last year, hit a tipping point,” he said. “I can’t turn Rutgers into a police state, nor do I want to.”
Acting Lt. Michael Rein said safety is the main goal for the Rutgers University Police Department.
“The University police department is community oriented, and there is no community without you,” Rein said. “The University police exist to support the University.”
General campus parking was another issue brought to attention at the meeting.
Jack Molenaar, director of the Department of Transportation Services, said the department is not looking to penalize students who may get tickets — rather it is done to open up parking spaces.
“Enforcement is done to make sure people follow all of these policies,” he said. “If you don’t make it hurt a little bit, people start to calculate how many times they can do it before they get hurt.”
Molenaar said the enforcement system is not money-driven, though the money collected from parking violations stays within the transportation department.
“If we wanted to make money off of you, I’d put meters on every campus and then make you drive everywhere and charge whatever I wanted,” he said. “The rules and enforcement ensure that you have a spot.”
Molenaar said the signs in parking lots around campus would be redone during the summer to reduce student confusion.