In part three of this three-week series about alcohol consumption, The Volante focuses on the presence of underage drinking at the University of South Dakota.
Come the first week of October — and the red solo cup activities that follow — the Vermillion Police Department is implementing new equipment and more manpower to deal with an influx of drinkers for Dakota Days.
One possible cause of concern that motivates VPD’s attention during homecoming week is the 73 percent increase in disciplinary referrals for alcohol violations from 2011 to 2012, released Monday in the Jeanne Clery Report. It also reported a 42 percent increase in liquor law violation arrests.
VPD Chief Matt Betzen said officers are setting up cameras in downtown Vermillion in high foot traffic areas. These camera feeds will offer real time surveillance of the downtown area.
“We’ll be able to see the front of every bar,” Betzen said.
The cameras will also download information right to VPD’s hard drive, so police can go back and look at video of certain areas if someone reports a crime. Along with setting up cameras to watch potential trouble spots such as alleyways, VPD will also bring in extra manpower from outside of Vermillion.
“State troopers will be bringing in an entire squad to just do DWI enforcement,” Betzen said.
Along with state troopers, Betzen also said there will be units of plain-clothes officers focusing on out-of-control house parties.
University Police Lt. George Rice said the department’s main focus during D-Days is student safety. Rice said during this time of year, they catch a lot of underage drinkers.
UPD is also concerned about an increase in vehicular traffic during the week, said Rice. Their concerns focus on the groups of students who will be out roaming the streets close to campus on foot who might not be paying attention to drivers on the streets – a potentially dangerous situation.
While UPD will be patrolling campus and citing people for a slew of alcohol-related crimes, Rice said issuing citations is not their main goal.
“We want students to understand that our number one priority is not to bust you but to keep you safe,” he said.
An organization also working to make sure students at USD stay safe during D-Days. Lauren Shuur, coordinator of Prevention Services at USD’s Counseling Center, said the Vermillion Prevention Coalition, in partnership with the Counseling Center and the Sanford Medical Center, will run a detox center during the weekend for anyone who needs medical attention.
“With Hobo Day and D-Days being the same weekend, no one is certain as to what to expect,” Shuur said.
Sophomore Traci Kuelsa said when it comes to D-Days’ alcohol-oriented atmosphere, she tries to stay away from most of it.
“I don’t really partake in that aspect of D-Days,” Kuelsa said.
Sophomore Sydney Prenger, a community adviser, is not excited about this year’s D-Days. She expressed her concerns about the amount of vomit she is expecting from intoxicated students.
“It’s going to be hell,” she said.