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OU getting tough on Halloween party offenses



Published: Sat, October 28, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Alcohol-related offenses are down this year, a university official said.

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) -- The thousands of partygoers in Athens this weekend for an annual Halloween bash should expect more police surveillance and tougher penalties for students for alcohol violations, Ohio University and city officials said.

The holiday party typically attracts more than 20,000 people to downtown streets. Last year, 95 people were arrested for alcohol-related offenses. Only six were students.

The city will spend an extra $7,500 to put officers on patrol who have experience in handling large crowds.

The university and city also organized safety teams this year that will walk the campus and streets to help people and keep an eye out for trouble. They also sponsor several events without alcohol, such as a parade and midnight movies.

School cracking down

The annual party comes at the same time the school is getting tougher on underage and binge drinking by students. First-time offenders receive six months to a year of probation and a $100 fine, and must attend an alcohol education class.

Students caught again within their probation are suspended for a quarter.

"We believe 95 percent of our students get it," OU President Roderick McDavis said. "The early results are that students are responding in a positive way."

Alcohol-related violations are down this school year, said Kent Smith, vice president for student affairs. Last year, 458 students faced discipline for alcohol offenses before a school judiciary board, and 309 have so far this year.

Municipal Court Judge William Grim also has started requiring students convicted of a second underage drinking offense to spend a weekend in jail.

Despite the warnings and potential penalties, some students said it won't affect their partying.

"I don't think it's going to deter a lot of people from drinking," said Mat Bowen, 20, of Hebron. "I think pretty much what it's going to do is just make people try harder not to get caught."




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