University and town prepare for annual Blarney Blowout

UMass is working hard to prevent chaos


(Collegian file photo)

By Abigail Charpentier, Assistant News Editor

With Blarney Blowout quickly approaching, the University of Massachusetts and surrounding towns are working hard to try and create a safe environment for students and community members.

During Blarney, large groups of students celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the weekend before spring break by day drinking in local bars and off-campus housing complexes. In 2014, 55 people were arrested and several were injured. Since then, UMass has worked closely with the town of Amherst to try to prevent arrests as well as property damage.

According to Mary Dettloff, deputy director of news and media relations, the University has a “very comprehensive plan in place, similar to past years, that has proven to be successful.”

Dettloff said, “It includes outreach to the town of Amherst and local businesses and property managers, increased police presence in the town of Amherst and the Mullins Live event.”

Mullins Live is a free concert for UMass students as an alternative activity during Blarney that was first held in 2015. This year’s lineup includes 21 Savage, GoldLink and Big Sean. As of Tuesday at noon, about 4,500 tickets had been given out, according to Dettloff. In a tweet from the Mullins Center, it is predicted 100 percent of the tickets will be given out by Wednesday or Thursday.

In a Daily Hampshire Gazette article, Amherst Police Chief Scott Livingstone said he feels “really confident about where we are” in regard to preparing for this weekend. Livingstone explained how about 150 to 200 officers from surrounding towns will be placed around Amherst as well as two K-9 units.

According to the Gazette, “Many of the officers, with detail costs covered entirely by UMass, will be positioned in areas where off-campus incidents have occurred, including North Amherst at Townehouse Apartments and Hobart Lane, next to the campus on Phillips and Fearing streets, and on lower Main Street.”

In addition to an increased police presence, the campus will issue a parking ban and put guest restrictions in place for residence halls.

From Thursday, March 1 at 8 p.m., to Sunday, March 4 at 11 p.m., non-UMass guests will not be permitted in residence halls. Students will still be able to sign in up to four UMass students as guests. UMass considers “any person who is not a resident of the hall” a guest.

In an email sent out to students on Tuesday from Parking Services, only UMass students with parking permits will be able to access parking lots on campus this weekend.

“Parking restrictions are in effect from 5 p.m. Friday, March 2, through 5 p.m. Sunday, March 4. During these dates, all campus parking lots will be considered 24-hour restricted lots. Vehicles parking on campus without a valid UMass Amherst parking permit are subject to ticketing and/or towing,” the email stated.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.