Students say police were ‘respectful’ during Blarney weekend

By Morgan Hughes

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

This year’s “Blarney Blowout” was safer and more successful than years’ past in the opinions of University of Massachusetts students who were interviewed Sunday night.

The precautions to prevent another “Blarney Blowout” like the one in 2014 began before the weekend even started.

Both the Amherst and UMass Police Departments made sure the laws and expectations were clear on and off campus. They refused to allow non-residents into Puffton Village and increased patrols throughout the North Amherst area. Townehouse Condominiums did not permit guest parking.

The University contributed to crowd control by implementing a restricted guest policy that prohibited non-university students from being signed into residence halls or swiped into the dining commons all weekend.

“(Police) went to all the houses and apartments in neighborhoods that have high levels of activities and talked to us about how the day would go,” said Matt Lask, senior and brother of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity on Phillips Street. “I thought that the police did a great job at alerting students in the area… to make sure that we all be careful and make sure to have a good but safe time.”

Mikey Greenstein, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, said he had positive interactions with police throughout the weekend. While walking from a house to a friend’s car on Friday, he was approached about suspicious activity involving theft in the area. He noted that police were respectful and understanding of his plans for the day. He said they just wanted to make sure he wasn’t getting into or causing any trouble in the area.

Thomas Fuccillo, a sophomore math major, said he believes the increased police presence helped keep things calm, but was unnecessary.

“Obviously it wasn’t crazy or anything because they had police everywhere but in my opinion it was just a giant waste of money,” he said. “Yes it makes sense to have police in the area but they overkilled it hugely.”

While he was happy with this weekend’s student-police interactions, Lask said he wishes there was more room for fun and safe gathering on Saturday.

“Hopefully over the years the cost for police presence will decrease,” he said.

Last year the University spent over $300,000 on police from other communities and activities to deter students from partying. This year hundreds of police officers from surrounding communities helped patrol Amherst and the University offered a free concert featuring artists Migos, Capital Cities and Jason Derulo.

Tara Graham, a freshman hospitality and tourism major, said she thought the concert was a “good alternative to day drinking.” She liked the artists that performed and felt the concert was “pretty under control.”

Lauren Baldwin, a freshman environmental science major, and Jill Hynes, computer science major, decided not to attend the concert and met up with friends off-campus. They said they felt the police did a good job at respectfully controlling crowds at off-campus gatherings.

“The police came and were very polite, and the owners of the house really respected them and asked everyone to leave,” she said.

Baldwin said she felt the “strict” police presence was warranted because of the celebration’s history, but “made it hard to have fun.”

“There were a lot of police present and (they) seemed to do a really good job controlling crowds,” she said. “I feel like they didn’t need that (many) police since there were already so many restrictions in place.”

Hynes added, “The police were very respectful and did their job well in my opinion. They kept everyone’s safety in mind without being rude.”

“They allowed it to be a safe and fun day while preventing people from getting hurt,” Lask said. “This Blarney seemed to go very smoothly and definitely improved the relationship of the students and police.”

Morgan Hughes can be reached at [email protected]

Editors Note: A previous version of this story included an error regarding the paraphrasing of a source. It has since been updated.