Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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'Be Smart, Be Civil, Be Safe' Halloween weekend

For nearly 30 years, students from all over have flocked to Athens, Ohio to take part in the city’s Halloween festivities.

The best way to make the most out of your Halloween weekend is to abide by the rules set out by Ohio University and Athens officials, try to avoid owing multiple fines for parking violations, and, of course, stay out of jail.

Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi urged students to stay safe during Halloween weekend.

"There are many individuals who come to Athens for Halloween who care less about our community and students than you do. Spend time with people that you trust, stick together, and look after each other," he recommended.

With anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 visitors joining the roughly 20,000 students who already reside in Athens, the one-way streets quickly become clogged and the parking lots and garages fill up instantly. Ohio University Parking Services has set multiple parking restrictions that will be effective beginning Friday, Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. until Sunday, Oct. 30 at 7 a.m.

The only vehicles permitted to park in university lots will be those owned by university faculty, staff and currently enrolled students. Any students, staff or faculty who do not currently have a parking permit will not be permitted to park in these lots over the weekend.

Having your car cited and/or towed would not be an ideal ending to your weekend, so it is important that your visiting guests know where they are and are not allowed to park.

The Athens County Fairgrounds will be available for Halloween weekend parking starting at 11 a.m. on Friday. The cost of parking for the entire weekend is $10, and they will have shuttle buses running to transport people from the fairgrounds to campus, and vice versa.

For those living in the residence halls, there are rules set in place for students as well as their guests. Students are allowed to have one guest stay in their room. Guests must be preregistered online through MyHousing anytime between Oct. 17-22, a process that includes a $25 fee if your guest checks in during the weekend.

The fee was instated four years ago as a way to compensate for the funding and resources that are needed to ensure that the appropriate safety and security measures are met.

After registration closes, roommates must approve the presence of all guests. This can be completed through MyHousing between Oct. 23-25. If a roommate denies the presence of a guest, the registration will be canceled.

Once guest registration has been completed, costumes have been bought, and the weekend has finally arrived, residents and their guests will be issued color-coded wristbands branded with the name of their residence hall. The wristbands ensure that only OHIO students and their registered guests are entering the buildings.

Without a wristband, students and/or guests will not be permitted into any residence halls. Students can present their student ID to gain access into their own residence hall.

As an additional security measure, the locks on the doors of each residence hall will be changed. Students will only be able to enter the building through the main entrance.

"The safety and security of our residential students is our number one concern during Halloween weekend," said Christine Sheets, executive director of Residential Housing. "We employ a number of precautions to ensure safety during a time when visitors come to town who may not respect our campus and the OHIO community in the same ways we do."

The City of Athens and the University teamed up last spring to create the "Be Smart, Be Civil, Be Safe" campaign, a public service campaign geared towards keeping our community safe.

The campaign also stresses that the pictures and comments you and your friends post on social media websites stick with you forever. It is important to monitor what you post from weekends uptown, because those pictures are easily available to everyone from your grandmother to future employers, as well as the police and school officials.

Halloween in Athens is sure to be an unforgettable experience for everyone in attendance. By following the rules and regulations that have been set forth, you can ensure that your night is safe and fun with no lasting repercussions.