The University and the city of Scranton made it a point to crack down this year on the Parade Day activities in the Hill Section.
The University closed all on-campus housing at 8 p.m. the Friday before Parade Day, whereas it left the dorms open to students until the Sunday after Parade Day in past years. This caused disagreement between students and the administration. Many students signed petitions trying to get The University to keep the dorms open, but the administration remained steadfast in its decision. The celebration went on in the Hill Section, but it was not as rowdy as in previous years.
Donald J. Bergmann, director of Public Safety and University Police chief, spoke about students’ behavior during the parade.
“There were virtually no incidents on campus, unlike previous years. We would usually spend later in the day dealing with drunk or sick students,” Bergmann said.
According to the day’s crime log, only 11 crimes were reported, seven of which involved public drunkenness or underage drinking. Other crimes included criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
Bergmann said most of the issues that The University police and Scranton Police dealt with involved students of other universities or residents of the city.
“Huge events like the parade bring in students from other nearby universities. They are either invited by University of Scranton students or just hang around looking for parties. By shutting down the dorms and restricting guest privileges, we greatly reduced incidents involving our students,” Bergmann said.
The University’s police received only 17 service calls from students this year, as opposed to 56 last year and 72 the year before.
Bergmann commented on the behavior of students living in off-campus housing in the Hill Section as well.
“Most student housing was very careful to stay on their own property. For the most part, they stayed on the porches instead of spilling out into the streets. Most of the issues we had didn’t involve University students,” Bergmann said.
Barbara King, interim dean of students, said The University put a significant amount of effort into working with off-campus residents before Parade Day.
“Student leaders went and knocked on off-campus students’ doors to talk with fellow students. That student-to-student interaction is very important,” King said.
King also noticed some students questioning their peers via social media when the decision on housing was met with backlash.
“Many students spoke out on social media pointing out that if fellow students’ behavior was not so bad, housing wouldn’t have needed to be closed,” King said.
While the lower number of students on campus for Parade Day affected The University, local businesses noticed their absence as well.
CK’s Pizza, a restaurant on Mulberry Street, saw far fewer students than previous years. Luis Martinez, owner of CK’s, worked in the restaurant from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Parade Day.
“We absolutely had less students come in than in previous years. It had an impact on business, but it was much easier to manage,” Martinez said.
Martinez said CK’s, which offers specials to students, has always been treated well by Univer-sity students on Parade Day.
“For the most part, the students that come in are always respectful. Most were drunk, but they never caused any problems,” Martinez said.
Despite The University’s optimism about Parade Day, many students were dissatisfied. Michelle Post, a junior off-campus resident, agreed with many students’ frustration regarding the dorms closing.
“It was not fair because for the past few years we have had good experiences on Parade Day,” Post said.
Post believes that The University’s decision to close the dorms fueled a resentful response from students.
“I think that people got mad about the new rule and that caused people to rebel and just stay,” Post said.
The lack of meal choices was a concern for many students, including Post. The first floor of the DeNaples Center was open, but meal swipes were not available. Students needed to use cash or Flex to make any purchases.
“Not having a food option to come to throughout the day made it worse on students. A lot of times food can help people sober up and we didn’t have that option this year,” Post said.
Post also linked the lack of dorms to a potential increase in drinking and driving.
“People probably had a higher chance of driving drunk because they figured they would sober up for a few hours and then go home that night. If the dorms were open they would be able to go and get a good night’s sleep and sober up before going home the next day,” Post said.
Vinny Sottile, a first-year campus resident, opted to go home when the dorms closed instead of looking for a place to stay.
“I figured it was a hassle. I would have to take all my stuff out of the dorm, leave it in some random house and sleep on someone’s floor. I wasn’t feeling it,” Sottile said.
Despite the inconvenience, Sottile knows many students who chose to stay.
“I know a good amount. They found places to stay,” Sottile said.
Sottile admits that the situation for those students who stayed may have been unsafe.
“Is it safe? No. They should have kept the dorms open,” Sottile said.
While students felt that The University’s decision put them in danger, the administration is very pleased with the outcome.
“This year was a vast improvement in regard to University students’ behavior,” Bergmann said.
March 27, 2015.