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Bellingham
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

University Police and community prepare for Halloween weekend

 

Be aware.

That’s what students and University Police are saying as they both prepare for Halloween weekend.

Halloween is one of the most common drinking times amongst first-year college students, according to a study published in the Journal of American College Health. Halloween is the fourth most popular time for drinking. Only orientation, the first week of classes after winter break, and the December holidays rank higher.

The average first year college student consumes six drinks during Halloween weekend celebrations, according to the study. The study defined a single drink as either 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of a mixed drink.  Males will typically drink approximately eight drinks, while females will drink around four.

“Historically it’s a busy, busy weekend,” University Police Sgt. Ron Carpenter said.

Despite that, typically the bulk of activity seems to occur off campus, Carpenter said. Students may start on campus, but will typically make their way downtown or into surrounding areas.  

“On campus there’s some drinking. Maybe swimming in the fountain,” Carpenter said.

University Police won’t be resting on their heels though. University Police plans to have more officers on duty than on the typical night, Carpenter said. The officers will be out observing and monitoring the area. Their goal, Carpenter said, isn’t to cause an incident, but simply to watch out.

Additionally, Public Safety Assistants, or green coats, will be riding the student shuttle buses that serve the Western area, Carpenter said. They will be in contact with University Police and will inform them if there is any problem with students on the shuttle buses.

Opinion on the police presence on and around campus seems to be mixed, however.

“I’ve seen a lot of cops show up to parties and park out front to try and get people out,” freshman Britta Springer said.

However, sophomore Casey Rae wondered if that presence has been reduced.

“I feel like since the riots, they’re afraid to get involved in big situations,” Rae said.  

The riot Rae refers to occurred in 2013, and was the result of police attempting to break up a large gathering of students partaking in destructive behaviors. Two arrests were made in the wake of the riot.

However, Aaron Haddeland, Dustin Diemond and Lucas Takeuchi all seemed to agree that patrols seem to be increased on Halloween.

“I’ve been pulled over on Halloween just driving a drunk friend,” Takeuchi said.  “At least they’re trying to crack down on potential drunk driving.”

The best advice Carpenter had for students was to be aware.  

Western students have proven that they’ve at least taken that advice to heart. Ahead of the weekend, students already have a list of things to be aware of.

“Definitely don’t get too drunk,” Springer said. “There’s going to be tons of people out there, and a lot of bad situations can happen if you get separated from your friends.”

Rae also added to watch out for and not drink from random cups, which could have been tampered with or tainted by illicit substances.

“I definitely know people that have had their drinks spiked,” he said.

Students and authorities alike said what matters most in the end is personal safety and awareness.

“Take some personal responsibility,” Carpenter said. “Watch your alcohol intake.”

Having a designated driver or a buddy to call in difficult situations can also be important as recommended by Diemond and Takeuchi. And in the case of an emergency, students can call 360-650-3911 to speak with University Police.

 

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