UMass prepares for ‘Blarney Blowout’ weekend

‘It’s against everybody’s best interest to have gatherings’

By Aidan Poole, Collegian Staff

The University of Massachusetts Police Department is working with the Amherst Police Department to prepare for possible “Blarney Blowout” parties this weekend, despite restricted student activity policies due to COVID-19.

As the University remains at its “Elevated” operational posture, the school’s Deputy Chief of Police Ian Cyr said he thinks “this year is a little challenging to identify what, if anything, is going to take place on campus.”

Cyr said the UMPD is “working with Amherst police to assist them as needed, but as far as on campus concerns, we don’t have too many concerns with regards to this weekend or St. Patrick’s Day.” Although the UMPD will be “monitoring the pulse” of campus activity this weekend, Cyr said, “it’s against everybody’s best interest to have gatherings.”

According to Ed Blaguszewski, a University spokesperson, “a number of campus offices are already at work with campus and town partners to ensure a peaceful environment for both students and local residents.”

Blaguszewski said the University “expects our students will be respectful to community members, which is more important than ever as we navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.” He hopes that students will “limit outdoor gatherings to their household members and follow public health protocols including social distancing and wearing masks.”

“The University will monitor the situation as needed,” said Blaguszewski, noting that “students should anticipate a visible law enforcement presence in Amherst on certain days.”

Marc Aronis, a junior mechanical engineering major, predicts “there’s not going to be too many full out parties” on campus due to student activity restrictions. For this reason, he thinks “people are just going to go off campus anyways,” with UMPD’s heightened on-campus presence being rendered useless.

Joel Delgado, a sophomore biology and film double major, agreed that increased UMPD activity “won’t have much of a difference” because “there will definitely be more people going off campus” than usual.

“I think cases would definitely rise fast,” Delgado said, predicting that the school “could shut down again” if people decide to gather. Aiman Elfakir, a junior economics major that expressed a similar sentiment about a possible shut down, said, “I hope not but I can’t say for sure.”

Aronis thinks it “definitely could be enough for another lockdown” if “there’s another spike,” but he hopes it won’t come to that. “It’ll be nothing like past years,” he said.

Aidan Poole can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @aidanmpoole.