IUP trustees toughen fines
With the alcohol-fueled rowdiness that occurred during the IUPatty’s Day celebration not far from mind, IUP trustees on Thursday voted to double student fines for running afoul of the university’s conduct code.
Under the measure, which was approved unanimously, the fines generally will be increasing to $100, $150, and $200, depending on the sanction to which they are attached. In addition, the trustees approved the creation of two new fines, a $100 penalty for students who fail to attend an administrative hearing and a $200 penalty for missing a conduct board hearing.
Rhonda Luckey, vice president for student affairs, said that, off the cuff, she thought the sanction most commonly imposed is one that carries a $75 fine, which will now increase to $150. Luckey said that particular sanction, a suspended removal from a residential building, typically results from violations of alcohol laws, such as underage drinking.
In seeking the increased fines, President Michael Driscoll said out-of-control parties and the resulting publicity overshadow all the good that the university does.
“More important than the damage to our reputation, people are hurt, lives are ruined and we are left with fewer resources to do good. We must, as a community, do everything we can to help our students and others make sound and safe decisions. And we must hold accountable those who put others at risk,” he said to trustees.
“Curbing a repeat of March’s incidents makes for a healthier Indiana community, as well as a healthier IUP community,” he said.
IUPatty’s is the student observation of St. Patrick’s Day, taking place on the weekend before students leave for spring break. Although the event, which is not sanctioned by IUP, has been around for a few years, it hadn’t reached a tipping point until last year.
Indiana Borough police Chief William Sutton has said that in terms of size, and the resources needed to police it, the drinking holiday is approaching the scale of homecoming weekend.
This year, police were summoned to incidents throughout the borough, but the most significant occurred on the afternoon of Saturday, March 9, as students and out-of-town visitors congregated on South Seventh Street, blocking traffic. Fights broke out, and some jumped on cars that had been stuck in the congestion.
Several are facing felony riot charges as a result.
Following the party weekend, IUP officials asked the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to conduct what’s known as an after-action review, a look back on the incident, the response to it and how that response might have been handled better.
PEMA director and IUP Trustee Glenn Cannon said on Friday that his agency routinely performs such reviews, but this is the first time it has done one for a university, he said.
As part of the process, PEMA has been interviewing a number of university officials and community members. The agency plans to bring those parties together for a summit on May 16.
Driscoll said he anticipates the summit will “connect dots for various facets of crisis moments like this one and help us all better prepare for them, do everything we can to eliminate them, and when they do happen, minimize their negative impact.”
Meanwhile, Indiana Borough council has established its own group to review the events of that weekend and others.
That group, the college-age activities committee, is made up of council President Nancy Jones, Sutton, Mayor George Hood, the chairmen of the public safety and community development committees, and police Sgt. William Vojtek.
The committee is eventually to report its findings to council.