UW boos Halloween visits

by Elizabeth Cook

While many University students are planning on going to Madison, Wis., for Halloween next weekend, this year they’re not welcome.

Even people from other schools in Wisconsin are being told to stay away.

“We don’t mean to target Minnesota,” said John Lucas, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

People can still come to Madison, Lucas said. But this year the school is not allowing guests in the residence halls.

“Our residence halls aren’t hotels like they were in the past,” Lucas said.

The residence halls hold 7,000 people; in the past, there have been 3,000 to 5,000 more trying to stay in the halls, Lucas said.

In the past, visitors have trashed the halls, Lucas said.

Lori Berquam, interim dean of students at University of Wisconsin, said residents of the halls are going to have wristbands, and if a person does not have a wristband, they are not allowed in.

If guests try to come in, and are confronted, they will have to leave regardless of the time of day, weather, or availability of another place to say, Berquam said.

Wisconsin’s university police department said it will enforce residence hall rules and campus parking will be severely restricted.

The raucous Halloween tradition started in Madison in the 1970s, but in the past two to three years there have been store windows broken, fires and riots on State Street, Lucas said.

Last year, more than 300 people were cited or arrested over Halloween weekend. Twenty-seven percent of those were Minnesota residents.

Berquam said that out of all the arrests and citations last year, 85 percent were issued to people not from the University of Wisconsin.

People should also know that if they do decide to go to Madison, they will be held legally responsible for their actions.

Mike Hanson, a public information officer for the Madison Police Department said the police don’t target out-of-towners, and will issue citations to anyone who breaks the law.

This year, police have tactics to deal with the Halloween weekend’s 60,000 to 70,000 visitors, including more than 200 officers, horse patrols, floodlights, limited access to State Street and a ban on glass bottles.

Hanson said the reason there are more visitors committing crimes is because they don’t have a sense of ownership since the area is not their town.

Berquam said that if people want to come to Madison, they can come another time, just not for Halloween.

Jeremy Schwach is the owner of Gofer Bus, a bus service that takes University students to Madison and Milwaukee for holidays and breaks.

Last year, Schwach said, approximately 30 students used his service to get to Madison for Halloween.

This year, he doesn’t know whether he’s going to run buses, but assumes so.

It’s not to defy the University of Wisconsin, Schwach said. But a lot of students use the bus because they live in Madison or Milwaukee.

University of Wisconsin student Shauna Kubina said Halloween in general is what causes some of the crime, not out-of-town students.

“I think it’s really stupid. I think it’s going to cause more problems,” Kubina said.

Martica Kenney, also a University of Wisconsin student, said it’s going to make the situation worse.

“It’s going to make people want to do it more,” Kenney said.

After hearing of the news release, first-year genetic cell biology student Risha Mathur said she’s still planning on going.

Mathur said she rented a hotel room in September and that she doesn’t think people are going to heed the warnings.

“It’s the No. 1 party school in the nation,” she said. “(It’s) a lot of fun even if you’re not drinking.”

Amelious Whyte, Office of Student Affairs director, said the University can’t punish students who go to Madison and get in trouble.

“It’s not a University event,” Whyte said. “What goes on in Madison has nothing to do with the University.”

Last year, the students who got citations or were arrested received letters from University administration stating that they were aware of what happened and what the expectations of students are, Whyte said.

Officials haven’t decided whether that will be done this year, Whyte said.

University of Minnesota computer science senior Eric Sodomka said he isn’t going.

“I’ve never been (to Madison); I don’t see what the big deal is. I’ve heard it’s a good time, but you can have a good time here.”