Police, U boost efforts in time for Spring Jam

University administrators will monitor social media sites to help police track parties near campus this weekend.

by Raya Zimmerman

As tonight marks the initial kickoff of Spring Jam festivities, the weekendâÄôs 14 different events are expected to attract waves of students âÄî along with heightened concerns for safety.
The University of Minnesota Police Department is staffing extra patrols and the Minneapolis Police Department is bringing in additional officers from outside the precinct to maintain control during an annual celebration that has been tainted by 2009âÄôs riot.
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart attributed part of the party-goersâÄô extreme actions that year to police failing to intervene at the onset of the disturbances.
This year, police will make a more concerted effort to address problems earlier in the day, University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said.
UMPD is also collaborating with the Office for Student Affairs to check social media sites such as Facebook to ensure that if students are planning any big parties, they will be on the authoritiesâÄô radar.
Rinehart said as of Tuesday, they have not seen any ominous activity thus far.
âÄúIâÄôm pretty optimistic that our students know how to have fun and be respectful at the same time,âÄù he said.
University and city representatives took a tour of University neighborhoods earlier this week, knocking on doors and reminding residents to keep their parties under control this weekend.
The Minneapolis Police Department responded to roughly 2,400 complaints of loud parties in 2010, according to a press release sent out Wednesday. The department also issued several hundred citations for underage drinking.
If weather is agreeable, more underage drinking tickets are generally issued around Spring Jam weekend, Miner said. Police crackdowns peak in April.
Overall, campus activities during Spring Jam are well under control, Rinehart said.
He said the events on campus are well-planned, although some students off campus âÄúhave their own agenda.âÄù
Before 2009, safety was not one of the UniversityâÄôs chief concerns during Spring Jam. However, the riots that broke out two years ago among party-goers in Dinkytown are still fresh in the minds of some.
On the Saturday morning of Spring Jam, parties started as early as 9 a.m. and culminated into a chaotic fiasco. People jumped on cars, rode in shopping carts and started fires in the middle of the streets. Twelve people were arrested and warning letters were sent out from the University to students most heavily involved.
âÄúStudents have to remember why they came to the U in the first place,âÄù Rinehart said. âÄúA bad weekend can ruin your future and hurt the reputation of the U.âÄù
He said the primary concern of the University is studentsâÄô welfare.
âÄúWeâÄôre hoping for another [Spring Jam] like last year âÄî a good celebration with no damage to people or property,âÄù he said.
Bars in Dinkytown, such as the Library Bar and Grill and Blarney Pub and Grill, will also enforce security measures and bring on more staff.
Contemporary Services Corporation security will be stationed at this weekendâÄôs concerts, Alec Bronston, communication co-chairman of the Spring Jam Committee, said. CSC security personnel are stationed at sporting events and were employed at the Kid Cudi concert last fall.
Bags will also be checked for alcohol and any substances, and if any is found, students will not be allowed into the venues, Bronston said.
He anticipates the weekend will run smoothly because of the security measures the committee, as well as the police, have taken.
âÄúWeâÄôre extremely excited to see it all come together,âÄù Bronston said. âÄúItâÄôs a time where we can all come together as one and celebrate unity and community at the U.âÄù