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IUPatty’s weekend resulted in a significant increase in arrests from last year’s event, increased overtime pay for police and a call to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to prepare the university for next year.
A cellphone video of the Seventh Street “riots” during IUPatty’s, which has more than 924,000 views, shows large groups of students blocking the roadways and fighting in the streets.
“This is not how we want our university to be known,” Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations Michelle Fryling said in a phone interview.
This year’s IUPatty’s celebration – the unofficial Indiana University of Pennsylvania student celebration of St. Patrick’s Day – brought with it 107 arrests, up from the 17 arrests last year, according to Indiana Borough Police Chief and Borough Manager William Sutton. This 529 percent increase does not include university police arrests.
Of these 107 arrests, 96 were summary citations – disorderly conduct, underage drinking, etc. – and 11 were criminal complaints, Sutton said.
“A majority of the activity was not criminal,” Sutton said. “It’s not a crime to yell, scream and drink. It is a
crime to block the streets.”
A total of 138 charges make up these 107 arrests.
“Of the 138 charges, a total of 71 were against IUP students,” Sutton said.
Separately from the other arrests, university police reported a total of 52 arrests made over the course of the
weekend, 17 of which were arrests for IUP students, he said.
IUPatty’s weekend also saw a 206 percent increase in average calls for service over a three-day period from last year’s IUPatty’s weekend, Sutton said.
Calls for service are made up of all calls made to the borough police department. Typical calls from IUPatty’s weekend included noise complaints, fighting, public drunkenness and disorderly gatherings. More serious calls included rape, aggravated assault and several simple assaults, Sutton said.
Social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram played a role in helping to identify several suspects, according to an Indiana Borough Police Department Incident Supplement Report.
Dominic Devon Brown-Haley, 19, of Aliquippa, and IUP students Jay Fisher, 19; Michael Joseph Ellwood, 19; and Caleb Gage Deuschle, 19, are among the individuals identified from the videos that were posted online. A known male juvenile from Aliquippa was also identified as one of the males engaging in the altercation with Brown-Haley along the 200 block of South Seventh Street, according to the report.
The four men were all charged with riot, disorderly conduct, obstructing a roadway/highway and failure to disperse, with some receiving other charges individually. An investigation of this incident is on going and subject to change, the report said.
In addition to an increase in arrests, IUPatty’s 2014 also brought an increase in overtime costs for the borough police department.
A total of $4,199.12 was paid in overtime costs this year compared to $2,644.21 that was paid in 2013, Sutton said.
“As calls for service increase, cost increases,” he said.
The events of IUPatty’s weekend also resulted in a number of participants requiring medical attention.
“We had over 50 party-related incidents over the weekend,” said Mark Richards, vice president of marketing and public relations at Indiana Regional Medical Center in an email interview. “The main complaints were intoxication, assaults, hang over symptoms and a sexual assault.”
In order to be better prepared for next year, IUP is bringing in the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Fryling said.
“PEMA’s mission is to save lives, reduce suffering and protect property and the environment by leading and coordinating common wealth agencies and resources to prevent, protect, prepare, respond and recover from any man-made or natural disaster,” according to readypa.org.
PEMA will analyze the events of IUPatty’s 2014 and provide IUP with the steps necessary to prevent problems encountered this year from happening again, Fryling said.
“We are not trying to prevent the students from having fun,” she said. “We just want to keep the celebrations
legal and safe.”
“What we don’t want is for IUPatty’s to become a secondary Homecoming,” Sutton said.
Fryling said the negative publicity surrounding IUP as a result of IUPatty’s could have an impact on university enrollment.
“We always worry about the reputation of the university,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be a shame if one person’s video kept someone from finding success at IUP?”
The impact that this year’s IUPatty’s weekend had on the relationship between the borough and the university remains to be seen, Fryling said.
“Students consider Indiana their home during their time here,” she said. “I hope that, in spite of this event, we can continue to move forward without losing the progress that has already been made.”