In an ongoing effort to prevent future incidents like the events on Fountain Avenue last May, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) unanimously passed a resolution last Sunday creating the Fountain Avenue Policy Commission, which will generate policies regarding safety and enforcement at social events, as well as educate the student body on related issues.
WSA President Mike Pernick ’10 suggested the creation of the Fountain Avenue Policy Commission to follow-up on a report created by the Fountain Avenue Working Group, of which Pernick was the sole student representative. The report detailed the Fountain Avenue incident and included 11 points of ongoing concern, but did not incorporate any definitive policy recommendations.
According to Pernick, the Fountain Avenue Policy Commission is the second phase of a three-stage process—the first being the Fountain Avenue Working Group, and the last being the actual execution of the policies and committee recommendations.
“All [issues discussed in the report] were contributing factors to what happened on Fountain Avenue and will be revised, amended, replaced and created (in regards to handheld cameras and criteria to call police) so that doesn’t happen again,” said WSA Vice President Saul Carlin ’09.
The Commission is comprised of five students who were elected internally during the WSA meeting this past Sunday: Jared Keller ’09, Karl Grindal ’09, Aubrey Hamilton ’12, Cesar Medina ’09 and Becky Weiss ’10, who will head the Commission.
According to the Fountain Avenue Policy Commission Resolution, the Commission will begin to work with students, the Fountain Avenue Working Group and members of the administration to make policy recommendations regarding all issues concerning the Fountain Avenue incident by Oct. 19.
“[The Commission] will come up with policies, present them to the WSA and take them to the appropriate University committees, such as Student Life [Committee], which makes many important decisions on campus,” Weiss said. “The goal is to create effective policies that will make a difference.”
According to Weiss, the Commission will focus on most, if not all of the suggestions included in Fountain Avenue Working Group Report. Some of these concerns deal with party policies and regulation, procedures for Middletown Police intervention on the University campus, education for students on legal matters, the relationship between students and Public Safety (PSafe), as well as the Middletown Police Department (MPD), and regulations on the use of handheld cameras.
The WSA felt that a principle concern was the lack of guidelines for Middletown Police intervention. There currently is no written course of action for PSafe when they desire aid from the MPD.
Weiss stressed that, beyond invoking specific policy changes, the Commission also hopes to educate students on issues such as party size regulations and the role of PSafe and MPD.
“We need to get information into peoples’ heads through a form of education that will be effective,” Weiss said.
The Commission will also work on creating a policy for the use of handheld cameras, for which there is presently no clear guideline.
“Last year we passed a camera policy for stationary cameras, not handheld,” Carlin said. “This is important because obviously student privacy is an issue. The presence of cameras contributed to the overall sense of complication that night.”
Because the efforts of the Fountain Avenue Policy Commission relies upon collaboration with students, the WSA encourages the students to get involved with its policy making and have their opinions on the issues heard.
“We are looking for ideas, and plenty of students already have ideas that will be effective and useful for the University,” Weiss said.
Student involvement in the process will begin through the WSA Open Forum being held today, Sept. 23, in the Daniel Family Commons of Usdan at 4:30 p.m. to gather input for the Commission’s policy recommendations.
“I think [the forum] will be a success,” Carlin said. “I think we are going to see a broad range of ideas and tight, concrete proposals, well-crafted by students over the summer. It is the job of the Committee to listen to these specific proposals and broad ideas and wrap them together into a document of written policy recommendations.”
According to Pernick, the WSA is confident that the efforts of the Commission will be approved and enacted.
“Every few years something like Fountain Avenue happens here on campus and students get the message for a while,” Pernick said. “Then they graduate and something happens again. The only way to break the cycle is to create policy that will last to make sure that what happened on Fountain Avenue never happens again.”