After two months of meetings, proposals, and finalizations, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) announced on Wednesday that it has completed a list of specific recommendations in response to last spring’s incident on Fountain Avenue. The compilation of proposals incorporated concerns about multiple issues, ranging from student awareness of their rights to University camera policy to Public Safety (PSafe) and Middletown Police Department (MPD) protocol.

As the WSA explained in Wednesday’s campus-wide e-mail, the recommendations serve as a jumping-off point for future University discussions about ways to prevent incidents like Fountain from occurring again.

“Real change is possible, and we will work to make it happen,” the e-mail read.

The assemblage of recommendations were formulated by the Fountain Avenue Policy Commission, an internally-elected group of five WSA members: Jared Keller ’09, Karl Grindal ’09, Aubrey Hamilton ’12, Cesar Medina ’09 and Becky Weiss ’10. Weiss served as the Commission’s chair.

Since the formation of the Commission in mid-September, its five members have met with numerous administrators, Director of Public Safety David Meyer and other relevant authorities in an effort to formulate suitable and productive recommendations in response to the Fountain incident last May.

“Even if we disagreed with them, it didn’t mean we necessarily changed the recommendations at all—we just wanted their input,” Weiss said.

Each of the final recommendations, which were presented to and voted upon by the rest of the WSA over the past few weeks, was approved nearly unanimously.

Within the recommendations, the WSA suggested that a pivotal force in last spring’s incident was a lack of student knowledge and awareness concerning both University policies and general laws.

“The Commission believes that the incident that occurred on Fountain Avenue during the early hours of May 16, 2008 could have been avoided if students had been better educated about their legal rights and obligations, as well as University policies,” the Fountain Avenue Commission Recommendation reads.

In response to this concern, the WSA suggested that some of the most essential University policies and Middletown laws be assembled and put together in a concise and accessible format, such as a pamphlet or wallet-sized tip sheet.

In addition, the WSA suggested amending the University’s party polic—o exclude backyard gatherings from typical party rules, for example. It also suggested the creation of an on-campus pub or, if a pub is determined to be unfeasible, a public space where students can congregate and bring their own alcohol. Additionally, the WSA suggested that the University obtain a permit for a block party on Fountain Avenue at least once a year, and that alcohol be served at a block party during senior week.

“The most important thing is the overall direction that we’re going,” Pernick said. “We want to try to maintain the culture we enjoy here while making Wesleyan a safer place.”

In addition to educating students and amending current policies, other recommendations proposed ways to ameliorate student relations with PSafe, MPD and members of the Middletown community. As part of these efforts, the Commission suggested the instatement of programs such as Public Safety-MPD-student intramurals and woodframe barbeques with members of PSafe or the MPD. Proposals to improve University-community relations included the formation of a babysitting list for area residents—possibly funded by the University—as well as a block party that would include both student and non-student residents.

The WSA also suggested amendments to the current camera policy so that handheld cameras cannot be used as a scare-tactic or to prosecute individual students. It also proposed general protocols for both PSafe and MPD while shutting down parties that would be more clearly defined than current rules.

In an all-campus e-mail sent yesterday, Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley announced that the MPD has released an investigative report of the night of the Fountain incident. According to the e-mail, MPD concluded that its use of force was appropriate, however, the University is determined to work with both the police and the student body to ensure that situations like Fountain do not happen again.

“We are encouraged that the report stresses the need for greater partnership and communication between all entities involved in this troubling incident,” the e-mail read. “This is consistent with proposals developed by the student’s commission on Fountain Avenue as well as the Fountain Avenue Task Force.”

Weiss noted that PSafe has also been very receptive to the Commission’s ideas, although most of the specific recommendations have not yet been discussed in detail.

President of the WSA Mike Pernick ’10 noted that the recommendations will now be passed on to the relevant bodies that have the power to enact them.

“We haven’t talked to President Roth about the specific proposals, but we did agree that these recommendations would be the starting point in every committee discussion about these issues,” Pernick said.

According to Weiss, getting the recommendations put into action will take time and effort on the part of all those involved.

“It’s hard because everything is a process,” Weiss said. “The things we’re asking to change are kind of controversial. There will have to be lots of discussions.”

Despite this fact, Weiss remains hopeful that the Commission’s hard work will see fruition in future University policy.

“We’ll probably have to make some compromises, but I know we’ll work as hard as possible and I hope we’ll see a lot of the recommendations enacted,” Weiss said.

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