By: Kara Hallissey and Jessica Campbell
These are the opinions of two Bloomsburg University students on Block Party and a bust that occurred the morning before. These events in Bloomsburg happened a couple weeks ago so we have had time to reflect on how we feel about the situations. In order to receive the honest thoughts of other students without making them feel vulnerable, we promised to use just their first names. We’d like to hear what you think? Why not leave your comments at the end of this article, ok?
In the wee hours of the morning on Friday, April 16th before Block Party, the Bloomsburg Police made a statement by busting one of the last known party houses on Lightstreet Road. They set up tents, had spotlights, and questioned the students who were in the house. According to bloomutoday.com, the police gave out 16 underage drinking citations and 6 criminal charges for supplying and selling alcohol. Many wondered if this was an attempt to scare everyone when Block Party arrived the next day.
We all know what the ordinance stated, and that no one obtained a permit this year because of its outrageous terms. This year’s Block Party was a lot different with everyone terrified about what the police were going to do next. Students were not sure what to expect this year and were concerned about the extent of police interaction.
Overall, there were 155 arrests made, and most charges were for public intoxication. Most students were worried that the police’s biggest concern was going to be underage drinking, yet that was not what most of the charges were. This could be because there was nowhere to gather and underage students were scared to leave the confines of their houses or dorms. On the other hand, public drunkenness may have been the most prevalent issue because there was nowhere to safely gather. This resulted in people being scattered all over the town.
“This year’s Block Party was nothing like last year. If I wasn’t in a sorority I probably would have never left my apartment,” said Lauren. “At least last year I could go to East Street to hang out with all of my friends, but this year I had to walk all around to go to individual parties,” Lauren continued to say.
Students who agree with Lauren, questioned whether or not it would have been safer to keep everyone in a confined area. The issue did not only affect underage students. In fact, students who are 21 years old were afraid to partake in the weekend’s activities.
“I saw my friend get tackled and pushed into a police car for exercising freedom of speech. I’d like to know how that constitutes public drunkenness; especially while on private property,” says Paul, a student at University of Pittsburgh.
According to many ‘of age’ students, the only apparently “safe” place from police seemed to be the bars. However, when asked how the bar scene panned out over Block Party weekend, most remarks were negative.
“It was too cold to walk to any of my friend’s houses, so I waited in line for a half hour outside of Hess’ Tavern, only to get to the front and realize I could barely see the actual bar when I walked in. If you think that’s bad, I wish you could see how long I waited for a drink,” said Ashley.
It appears as though being ‘of age’ on Block Party did not produce all that many advantages over being underage. The general consensus about Block Party 2010 was that it did not even remotely compare to previous years. Most Bloomsburg and visiting students were highly disappointed.
According to bloomutoday.com, the ACLU plans to sue the town of Bloomsburg for their alleged unconstitutional ordinance that targets college students.
Before the new ordinance was voted on, the ACLU sent the Town of Bloomsburg a warning letter. The issue is important regardless of the outcome of Block Party. The ordinance apparently violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
What do you think?