Bloomsburg University President David Soltz is not a fan of Block Party. When asked about his general feelings regarding the event, Soltz was fairly blunt.
“I wish we didn’t have it,” said Soltz. “I understand that students would want to unwind a little, being that it’s one of the last weekends before finals week, but it creates so many problems for the university.”
Growing Popularity and Non-Students
Soltz has been president since January 2008, and in that time he has seen Block Party develop into the annual problem that it has become for the school and the town. He was prepared for what would come when he learned that the Block Party the year before he became president was a particularly “hostile” one.
“Apparently there was a lot of altercations with students and law enforcement that year, so I was definitely aware that this would be something that would require some attention in thefuture.”
Block Party has gained quite a bit of steam in the years since then, due in no small part to social media, according to Soltz. The natural progression and outreach has led to more and more people hearing about the event, which leads to more out-of-towners flocking to Bloomsburg.
“The non-students are certainly a factor,” said Soltz. “Since they’re guests and they don’t go to school here, they must figure they have nothing to lose and they start causing problems.”
Since Block Party is not a campus event, there are efforts by the university to provide alternatives to partying. Springfest is an event that takes place on campus the day of Block Party, and it features several activities for students to partake in within the safe confines of the university. Soltz believes that students who are underage should be taking advantage of this alternative.
“I think the event is mainly going to attract students who weren’t going to go to Block Party anyway, but it’s important that the option is out there for underage students. We’re incorporating a lot more alumni events, athletic events, and so on, so there’s no shortage of activities at Springfest. What we really want to drive home is that it’s a safe alternative for underage students.”
Bloomsburg’s Reputation & What More Can Be Done
Students who choose to attend Springfest will be spared from the possibility of being involved in some of the raucous behavior that can go on downtown. It seems that every year, there is a new viral video that emerges showing some of the wild antics of Block Party. Soltz acknowledged that it’s discouraging to see the amount of traction that the videos of Block Party get.
“When you type in ‘Bloomsburg’ on YouTube, videos of Block Party are some of the first items that appear, so it’s definitely a concern that our school is not being represented in the best way to the general public.”
It can be difficult for the school to get involved with Block Party since it is not a campus event, but Soltz affirms that there is a responsibility to tell the students to be safe. As far as what other steps to take to discourage wild behavior, Soltz says that there is not much else that can be done.
“I’m not sure what more we can do other than tell students to be safe and respectful residents of the town,” said Soltz. “Since it’s not sanctioned, we have no control over what goes on. If you do have parties, we can only advise that you be responsible, and that you should do your best to know who is at your party.”
When asked if he had a message for the participants of Block Party, Soltz gave a response that essentially summed up his feelings on the matter.
“I encourage you all to do other things on campus, but if you do choose to participate, don’t drink underage, be safe, and know that the police are there to enforce.”
Block Party is this Saturday, April 16. Do you plan on attending? What about Springfest?
Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.
This article originally appeared on BlockPartyInsider.wordpress.com, a project for Mass Communications’ Spring 2016 Journalism Workshop. You can view all of the workshop’s work there.