On the night of Friday, April 23, Wesleyan’s annual wine-drinking scavenger hunt, Tour de Franzia, sent at least nine students to the emergency room, according to the Public Safety (PSafe) Awareness Report. According to Director of PSafe David Meyer, more students ended up needing medical assistance at this Tour de Franzia than any time before. Meyer said this is part of a larger trend on campus, as incidents of this nature have been increasing in volume and severity in recent years.
“Normally activity increases during warmer weather,” he said. “September, October, April, and May are our busiest months, but the behavior of students is becoming pretty unacceptable. Lately there have been some serious issues where people are coming close to getting arrested.”
According to Meyer, several students not listed on the report were transported in ambulances to the ER over the course of the night. Over the past several weeks, PSafe has been working with the Middletown Police Department (MPD) and coordinating with the MPD patrol captain each weekend. Although there were no arrests on the night of Tour de Franzia, MPD conducted several cruises around campus while PSafe was clearing a party on Fountain Avenue.
“[PSafe] coordinated with the Middletown Police Department, the Middletown Fire Department, and Hunter’s Ambulance,” Meyer said. “We were basically flooding the emergency room.”
A Facebook event, titled “TOUR DE FRANZIA 2010” had 925 confirmed guests and provided details about its location and organization. On Friday April 23, two messages were sent to members of the event. The first message earlier that afternoon served as a warning.
“The University knows about the event, and is going to be on the lookout,” read the message. “So just be smart tonight. Conceal your franzia, avoid p-safe [sic] etc.”
Later in the evening, another message was sent out informing attendees that University Party Policy applied to this event and that only students 21 and older should be drinking wine.
PSafe officers were on duty throughout the night at locations such as President Michael Roth’s house, the Foss Hill Graveyard, and outside McConaughy Hall (MoCon). Meyer declined to say whether PSafe officers were strategically placed before the start of the event.
“I’d rather not discuss our specific plans for these kind of things,” Meyer said. “As we found people going to specific areas we deployed our officers as appropriate.”
Although no students or PSafe officers were reportedly assaulted over the course of the night, Meyer pointed out the parallels between student behavior as of late and the Fountain Avenue incident nearly two years ago, when an end-of-the-year party flooded onto the street and resulted in altercations between students, PSafe, and the MPD involving police-use of pepper spray, dogs, and taser guns.
“Even though it’s the end of the year, students need to understand the need to comply,” Meyer said. “We’ve come close to having much more serious incidents.”
According to Meyer, PSafe plans to use a more heavy-handed approach when next year’s Tour de Franzia rolls around.
“Next year when this event comes again, it will be dealt with differently,” he said.