Saturday saw the return of the Tour de Franzia, an unsanctioned drinking game and scavenger hunt that has historically taken place at the end of the spring semester. Breaking with tradition, the Tour did not occur this past spring, which was seen by many as an indication that the administration’s attempts to end the hunt were successful. In an email sent to all students on campus on April 11, 2013, Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Whaley outlined the consequences that participating students would face for participating in the Tour.
“[W]e want to make clear that students who choose to participate in any way (even if not drinking) will face judicial charges,” the email read. “….We have determined that typical participants in the Tour will be assigned a minimum of 6 judicial points. Students should be warned that those who have already accrued points as well as those who engage in egregious behavior during the Tour may face immediate suspension (loss of tuition and this semester’s work). Seniors who participate in the Tour will be prohibited from participating in commencement.”
Despite these seemingly successful warnings, the Tour resurfaced during Homecoming and Family Weekend. The event was announced through a text forwarded among students which instructed them to meet at a shed in the backyards between Fountain Ave. and Pine St. at 11:30 p.m.
“We got to Fountain at 11:30, and a lot of people were there, but no one really knew if it was going to happen for sure,” said an anonymous participant in the Class of 2016. “[T]hen everyone started singing the fight song and then when everybody yelled ‘go Wes,’ they threw the sheets up in the air. PSafe was watching but didn’t seem to really care.”
In the past, the administration has been able to roughly predict the date of the Tour given that it typically happens on one of the last weekends of the spring semester. This year, Public Safety (PSafe) was not aware of the event until Saturday; because of Homecoming Weekend, however, there were already extra officers on campus.
“We were informed through the Dean’s office,” said Interim Director of PSafe Tony Bostick. “We had staff working already just because it was Homecoming Weekend, and we always staff up for that weekend anyway. That didn’t really affect us as much as compared to if it were just a regular weekend. Besides, on Friday and Saturday nights we maybe have a little extra staff on too, depending on activity.”
Dean of Students Rick Culliton described the administration’s involvement in the night’s events.
“When we learned the event was a possibility, Public Safety locked down many of the buildings that had been damaged in the past and residential life staff were alerted,” Culliton wrote in an email to The Argus. “A number of administrative staff were also called in to assist [P]ublic [S]afety and to dissuade students from participating.”
According to Bostick, buildings were locked down if they had historically been included on the list distributed by anonymous organizers to participating students. Similarly, PSafe cars were stationed at areas that were highly trafficked in the past. This was done in an apparently successful attempt to prevent vandalism.
“We didn’t really have any bad incidents as far as vandalism like we’ve had in the past,” Bostick said. “In that end it was really minimum—almost nothing.”
Yet, participation in the Tour, according to Bostick, was still high.
“It was a pretty big group circling,” he said. “It appeared to have pretty good participation. I’m not sure of the exact numbers.”
Some students were transported to the hospital for intoxication; these numbers did not exceed those seen on a typical weekend night.
“We had some transports,” Bostick said. “I wouldn’t say it was more than a usual Saturday night. We’ve been pretty consistent with transports throughout the semester, unfortunately.”
Middletown Police were also present during the Tour because an officer had already been on call to assist with Homecoming Weekend.
“It all happened to be in place at the time,” Bostick said. “It had nothing really to do with the Tour de Franzia. They were involved in crowd control more so, just in the streets, because that is their jurisdiction.”
In past years, PSafe has videotaped students participating in illegal activities such as Tour de Franzia so that administrators can later identify them for disciplinary action. This year, according to Bostick, this technique was not employed.
“We don’t automatically just videotape; it has to be something where we may need to identify people,” he said. “That’s mostly when we videotape. It did not happen this time like in the past. We didn’t think we needed it at the time.”
The anonymous participant The Argus spoke with found the Tour to be tamer than expected. As a member of the Class of 2016, he had no former experience with the event.
“I thought it was going to be a little crazier than it turned out to be,” he said. “I felt like the tasks were a little tame, and the administration is sort of making a big deal out of nothing.”
According to Bostick, some students were identified by PSafe and had their names taken. Given that it was Halloween weekend and many students were in costume to begin with, it was more difficult to determine which were participating in the Tour.
“There were students with costumes on; there were students with bags of wine and stuff like that,” Bostick said. “…It’s Halloween weekend, but if you stop them and they say ‘I have my costume on because it’s Halloween,’ that’s something where the Dean’s office would have to decide [if they were participating.] We weren’t there to decide on the spot if you were participating or not.”
According to Dean Culliton, students whose names were taken will appear before the Student Judicial Board to face the consequences of participating in the Tour.
“Several Tour participants were transported to the hospital for intoxication, and others were involved in confrontations with administrative staff and Public Safety,” Culliton wrote. “Those students identified as being involved will be charged with violations of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct and will face punishment up to and including suspension.”
Given these potential consequences, of which students were warned last year, some chose not to participate.
“I didn’t participate in Tour because I didn’t think it was worth the risk,” said Hannah Rimm ’15. “Based on the email we got last year, I would have gotten six points if I was caught, and that didn’t seem worth it.”