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Monday, October 4, 2004
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City of Athens, Ohio University take proactive approach to curb incidents associated with Halloween street party

ATHENS, Ohio ? A door-to-door information campaign designed to visit with Ohio University students who reside in Athens neighborhoods highlights steps being taken by the City of Athens and the university to meet the challenges of the unacceptable behavior that has surrounded the Athens Halloween Street Party in recent years. This year?s event is scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 30.

Beginning Oct. 18, members of Student Senate will join Off-Campus Living Office staff members in canvassing student residences in the Mill and Stewart Street areas, which were especially hard hit by unruly behavior during last year?s event. Should time allow, the effort will be expanded to other neighborhoods with high numbers of student residents.

?The visits will offer an opportunity to remind the student-residents of their rights and responsibilities as members of the local community,? said Jim Hintz, coordinator for off-campus living. ?Since many of the arrests last year did not involve Ohio University students, an emphasis will be placed upon the responsibility residents have for their guests? behavior and how to deal with houseguests who may behave inappropriately and unlawfully, including whom to contact should a problem arise.?

Student Senate members? involvement emphasizes the effectiveness of face-to-face meetings with students and involving them as part of the solution.

Members of the Task Force on Civic Responsibility, a joint city-university effort, began meeting in March to develop short-term and long-term approaches to limit the difficulties that have arisen from Halloween and other events and to design educational approaches to inform students of their civic responsibilities when they move off-campus and into Athens neighborhoods.

?Last year?s events clearly demonstrated that it is time for a proactive approach to curb the risk of future trouble, and the Task Force on Civic Responsibility responded to this challenge,? Ohio University President Roderick McDavis said. ?We continually stress to our students the importance of being good neighbors and taking responsibility for the well-being of their community. Athens is a unique, vibrant community, and we all have an interest in its welfare. We don?t want the unfortunate actions of some individuals to tarnish the reputation of this wonderful community and our great university. As an alumnus, I feel strongly about this issue.?

The Off-Campus Living Office, which opened Oct. 1, is an outcome of the task force?s recommendations. The office is designed to educate students about the civic responsibilities associated with neighborhood living.

To further increase positive interactions between full-time residents and student neighbors, two picnics were held by community members to become acquainted with student-residents in their neighborhoods. The Athens Near Northside Neighborhood Association sponsored a Congress Street picnic, and the Athens City Council sponsored a Mill Street picnic. Future events are envisioned in the future to build upon the goodwill generated by these events.

Once again, the university expects to spend more than $90,000 in labor, material, supplies and other costs to ensure the safety of the campus and its residents during the weekend of the Athens Halloween Street Party. Among the precautions:

? Parking Restrictions. To reduce the flow of visitors through campus, university parking lots are restricted to vehicles that display a valid university parking permit for the weekend. Most campus parking lots are limited to one entrance/exit to control the flow of traffic.

? Residence Hall Restrictions. Each student living in a residence hall is allowed one guest, who must be registered with the residence hall. All guests are given wristbands, which must be worn to enter residence halls. Ohio University students can wear wristbands or display their university ID cards to gain entrance.

? Alternative events. Each year, the university plans a slate of social events on Friday and Saturday nights as an alternative to the Halloween festival.

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Media Contacts: Associate Vice President of University Communications and Marketing Hub Burton, (740) 593-2200; Pager: (740) 290-4479

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