Police rethink Tubestock presence

by Ben Zimmerman | 8/18/05 5:00am

Questioning the wisdom of swimming in the Connecticut River while intoxicated, local law enforcement officials are taking a hard look at the rules and regulations surrounding the annual Tubestock weekend.

"The New Hampshire Marine Patrol believes it's a tragedy waiting to happen," Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone said.

This year's Tubestock was without major incident, but of the estimated 800 people that participated, not all returned to campus unscathed.

"There were injuries, and some people were brought to the hospital, but nothing too serious," Norwich Police Chief Doug Robinson told The Dartmouth.

If police were to strengthen their presence at the annual event, Giaccone said that they would consider plans to curb alcohol consumption and require organizers to obtain a permit.

"If a permit was not granted and students decided to hold the event anyway, we would have to consider means of punishment," Giaccone added.

However, Robinson emphasized that no major decisions would be made in the immediate future, citing an annual pre-Tubestock planning meeting between Dartmouth students, local police and state agencies as the likely source of any significant changes.

"At least a month before Tubestock, we have a planning meeting," Robinson said. "We brainstorm every year about how to handle the event."

Robinson said Tubestock's safety has been discussed before.

"We've talked about greater enforcement in the past, but sometimes it's about the manpower to do it."

Though much of the rhetoric surrounding Tubestock highlights alcohol abuse, recent calls for reform have been made from angry riverside residents.

"This year resulted in a greater number of post-event complaints involving river debris," Giaccone said. "That's what caused the recent wave of concern."

The recent death of Tuck Bridge program participant Valentin Valkov, who drowned early Friday morning in the Connecticut River, has also impacted the Tubestock debate, Giaccone said.

"The drowning is obviously on our minds," he said.

Yet, despite the somber tenor surrounding the present situation, Brendan Neff, summer social coordinator for the Greek Leadership Council, remains optimistic.

"I expect Tubestock to remain pretty much the same for the average student next year and the following years," Neff said. "The only major change will be an increased responsibility and accountability in the Greek community to make sure the event is safe and the river is cleaned up afterwards."

To ease the burden on future Tubestock planners, Neff and other members of the GLC have catalogued the steps necessary to bring the summer tradition to life.

"It's just something to make sure we have the necessary institutional memory, so that subsequent officers have a better idea of what to expect and to make sure that the cleanup happens faster and goes more smoothly," Neff said.