Despite safe bonfire, weekend arrests still up

by Nick Lambrecht | 10/30/00 6:00am

Continuing the trend of a rising number of reported incidents during Homecoming weekend, the College saw more arrests and alcohol violations this year, following Safety and Security's effort to heighten security in the wake of the Texas A&M bonfire accident last year.

"We didn't have any assaults reported at the bonfire or over the weekend, which is a good thing, but the total number of reports were up," College Proctor Robert McEwen said.

The number of incidents reported to S&S rose to 66 this year from 50 a year ago. The largest increase came in the area of alcohol violations, which rose to 27 incidents from 18. The number of vandalism reports fell the most, from seven to three.

"All in all it was a very busy weekend, but I thought it went fairly well," McEwen said.

Most of the arrests over the weekend came during the Homecoming Bonfire. According to Hanover Chief of Police Nick Giaccone, there were five arrests on Friday night. 14 other students were detained that night.

Soon after the start of the Freshman Sweep the official lines of caution tape set up by S&S workers were broken as runners moved closer to the fire.

"The tape is there to act as a barrier," McEwen said, "but we know it's not going to stay."

The Hanover Police and S&S officers then patrolled close to the bonfire, moving onlookers back and detaining students who they felt might have threatened the group's safety.

In addition to improved safety measures at the bonfire itself, white ribbons were distributed to freshman runners this year to wear in honor of those who died at Texas A&M, and letters of caution were sent out to students prior to the event.

The students arrested and detained at the bonfire were held for charging the structure, holding open containers of alcohol and possessing what seemed to be weapons. A few intoxicated students were placed under protective custody, and one student was arrested for "lewd and lascivious conduct."

According to McEwen, officers removed about half a dozen students for touching the bonfire, although many more violated this regulation.

McEwen said that students detained for this kind of action will not face consequences from the police, but "may face some type of college internal disciplinary action."

Giaccone noted that among the freshman runners were members of the swim team who "were carrying what appeared to be weapons, but were imitation weapons." A few of these students were detained, but as of Saturday it had not yet been decided whether the students will face charges.

Three students were also arrested at the Harvard-Dartmouth football game on Saturday when they rushed the field at the end of halftime festivities. The Hanover Police plan to charge them with trespassing.

The students rushed the football field after repeated calls from upperclassmen and alumni in the stands for freshmen to carry on the time-honored game tradition.