Q&A: The University Prepares For St. Patrick’s Day

Liz Kyle
News Editor

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up on Saturday, the University has been taking steps to ensure students’ safety and to help them make responsible decisions while having fun. The campus community has the responsibility of protecting their fellow Flyers, as well as protecting the reputation of the University.

Flyer News sat down with members of UD’s community, including police chief and executive director of public safety Rodney Chatman, associate vice president for student development and dean of students Christine Schramm and president of the university’s student government association Jamie Vieson, to talk about upcoming preparations for St. Patrick’s Day.

What goals and expectations do you have going into this upcoming St. Patrick’s Day?

Chief Chatman: Our goal is to be smart. We have outstanding student leaders on campus who know the right thing to do. I’m very happy the collective University takes a very comprehensive approach to safety on a day-to-day basis, but particularly on special events like this.

I’m very pleased with the advertisements for alcohol free, alternative events students can participate in, as well as, the consistent messaging on how to have fun in a safe way.

Jamie Vieson: As SGA, our goal has been to promote the message that Chief Chatman and President (Eric) Spina have been giving out to students. As the voice of the student body, we strive to communicate to students so those messages are being heard so that safety can be a number one priority.

SGA is sponsoring a cookout that will happen on St. Paddy’s Day from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at ArtStreet. We’re really looking forward to having our members there to promote safety at an event that is alcohol free.

We’re implementing the hashtag, #IGotYourBack, I know there will be a Snapchat filter students can use as well. We really just want to make sure we are being a safe community during this time and not leaving any of our fellow Flyers behind.

Christine Schramm: From a dean of students perspective, we want to educate our students about staying safe. There are ways we need to watch out for ourselves and for others, that’s the underlying theme of what our community is about. We want students to also take responsibility for themselves.

There’s lots of guests that come on campus during this time, and sometimes they’re more of the problem than our own students. Those people aren’t invested in the success within this community, so we want our students to make sure to watch out for their guests, too. This is their degree. This is their community.

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, are there any new actions being enforced in terms of controlling traffic and maintaining safety?

CC: We plan for this in the respect of acknowledging there will be more students out, so we will have more resources out and about. The expectations are the same: you’re still dynamic students on Monday as you are on Saturday, so we still have the same standards.

CS: We’re absolutely cognizant that St. Patrick’s Day is on a Saturday, that certainly impacts the type of programming and educational initiatives. We’re ensuring we have an array of activities throughout the day and throughout the weekend. We’ve worked with athletics. We’ll be hosting and sponsoring a baseball game on that day, so those are the initiatives that will be different.

Plus, with it being on a Saturday, there’s different activities we can organize. We hope we can provide for students to make good decisions and good choices for themselves. In terms of the response from Public Safety, it’s the same as it would be on a regular Monday.

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There tends to be a stigma of fear on campus when it comes to calling Public Safety if a student’s friend, or even themselves, is in trouble. How do you recommend students going about acting in a troubled situation?

CC: I’m not sure if we can put the message out any stronger: there’s nothing more important than your safety. I don’t want someone to be in trouble and remain in trouble by a perceived stigma. Give us an opportunity to assist someone you may feel is in trouble. It is the right thing to do. As far as we’re concerned, we’re not out to be a “gotcha!” police department. If I had my druthers, I would love to see everyone in the student neighborhood having a great time responsibly.

JV: To give a student perspective, SGA had some conversation with Chief Chatman and President Spina at a forum we held a couple of weeks ago. What was taken away from that conversation was although we recognize St. Patrick’s Day brings more people into our community and presents a higher risk situation, Public Safety is still responding and available to students in order to keep us safe.

There may be a stigma on campus that you can’t reach out to Public Safety, but I think it’s important to know that it’s not just on St. Patrick’s Day that Public Safety can help in a bad situationit’s all days of the week.

CS: The University has made some bold statements about wanting to assure safety. We just wrapped up a full week of Green Dot Week where we talked about redirect, talking about ways students can say something when they see something. Green Dot certainly applies for a lot of bystander intervention situations.

It’s not just the police that can do something, you can do something too. If you see someone in distress, we have a policy where it doesn’t matter that they are in violation of the code of conduct with underage drinking. You call us, so we can assure that student is safe, we refer to that as medical amnesty. We want students to know where our real priority is, and that’s in their safety.

Not only is safety the utmost concern for the University during St. Patrick’s Day, but students being respectful and upholding the University’s policies follows too. What methods can students follow in order to avoid policy violations?

CS: Follow what police say. If this was an occurrence that happened in your hometown, we have an expectation that any law abiding citizen will do as a law enforcement official tells them to do. Whether it’s on Lowes or on Main Street, Hometown, U.S.A., this is about safety and obeying the law. My expectation is students taking responsibility for themselves, so when the police say, “please step aside,” you will step aside.

CC: Even though Public Safety will be fully resourced that day, we can’t be everywhere. Most of the behaviors we see in group settings, you can predict when something is about to happen, you can see it crescendoing. We’ve had incidences where students have said, “officer, can you please assist us?” when they’re houses are becoming out of control. We really encourage thatyou can head off something before it builds steam and catches momentum. I have every faith our students can and will do that.

CS: Not only will Public Safety be present on St. Patrick’s Day, but the City of Dayton police will be around as well. They will certainly have their rights and own responsibilities to ensure a safe environment as well.

It’s not just University of Dayton police, it could very well be the City of Dayton because these are Dayton city streets. We can’t forget that. These aren’t just University policies, these are laws.

To find out more information about St. Patrick’s Day programming, visit the University’s website here.

Photos taken from udayton.eduafjn.org and taken by Christopher Santucci/Former Staff Photographer.