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Ohio State: Party safe or you’ll be sorry

Courtesy of Amanda Grunenwald

An Ohio State official warned students about having large parties this weekend, like last weekend’s Woodfest ’11, citing that legal action can be taken if laws are broken.

Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of student life, sent an email to students at about 11 a.m. Wednesday. In that email, she said the university was aware of several large parties being planned for the weekend.

“Your safety is our top priority. That is why the university strongly urges you not to host large parties or attend them, and why we support police in enforcing laws and shutting large gatherings down at the first signs that they are becoming unsafe,” Adams-Gaston said in the email.

On Facebook, there are several groups getting attention from students and others interested in throwing fests similar to Woodfest. One of those groups has a party scheduled for Saturday, which they dubbed “ChittShow 2011.”

As of Wednesday night, the group has more than 2,600 people attending and about 4,500 more waiting to reply. In the information box of the event it suggests roping off the yards to keep people out of the streets.

Several attempts to talk to creators of the group were unsuccessful.

Representatives from the Columbus Police Department were not immediately available to comment on Chittshow.

Adams-Gaston also mentioned several of the laws that are applicable in a large party situation, like the situation at Woodfest last weekend.

“When police issue an order to leave the area (disperse), this is not a suggestion. It is a command, and failure to follow it is a violation of the law. When the order is given, you should immediately leave the area or go inside your house and shut the door,” Adams-Gaston said.

Saturday evening into early Sunday morning, several houses organized Woodfest, a block party that spilled into the street, blocking traffic on East Woodruff Avenue between High Street and Indianola Avenue. Columbus police dispersed the party around midnight with the use of pepper spray.

At Woodfest, two OSU students and a Columbus State student were arrested and charged with assault on a police officer. The three students — Matthew Coleman, 19, majoring in biology, Brian Witt, 21, majoring in civil engineering and Michael Shivak, 21 — have all posted bond and have a court date set for May 25, according to court documents.

Several attempts to reach Witt and Coleman, the OSU students involved, were unsuccessful.

Adams-Gaston said students who host parties like this could face university sanctions. She also added that anyone arrested — like the three at Woodfest — could be placed on immediate interim suspension from OSU.

“This would mean you could not complete the quarter,” Adams-Gaston said.

Andrea Goldblum, director of Student Judicial Affairs, stressed that each case is considered on an individual level and could not comment on whether her office will be taking action against Coleman or Witt. Goldblum said typically in instances involving allegations of assault, the Office of Judicial Affairs becomes involved.

Goldblum said in cases where the student was involved in assault or another form of dangerous activity, they were “typically suspended from the university.”

Brittany Hampton, a third-year in fashion retail studies, said she does not expect the email to be taken seriously.

“I don’t really party that much on campus, but even if I did, I’d probably just disregard the email, in all honesty,” Hampton said. “OSU has a responsibility to warn students about these things, but I doubt that many people will take the warning seriously.”

Adams-Gaston mentioned that several parties in the past resulted in much worse consequences for those involved, and she does not want to see a return of that.

“There were many injuries to students, a number of arrests and dismissals from the university, hundreds of thousands of dollars of property damage, strained relationships between the community and students, and harm to the reputation of all students,” Adams-Gaston said.

Morgan Hojnacki, a first-year in exploration, said students will generally ignore the email because the punishments for parties are not as severe as they are made out to be.

“Though some students will take the safety email to heart, I’m sure there will be many more who won’t, just because they feel that the consequences for partying are generally blown out of proportion,” Hojnacki said.

Adams-Gaston urged students to think carefully about the information given.

“I hope that you will make good decisions. Warm and sunny weather is predicted for this weekend,” Adams-Gaston said. “Let’s enjoy it safely.”

Maria McGillivary contributed to this story. 

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