Police hope to avoid College Fest conflict

Katherine Schaeffer

With rumors swirling that College Fest, the annual block party thrown by College Ave. residents, might be making a comeback this Saturday after last year’s hiatus, Kent Police are preparing to keep festivities in check.

Officer Jim Prusha said although College Fest is not a confirmed event, Kent Police will be calling in reinforcements to encourage would-be partiers to follow the law. Throughout the day, the Metro SWAT Team, Portage County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Kent State and Brimfield officers will patrol College Avenue with Kent Police.

“We will have officers out walking in teams, and as long as we can handle things with those walking teams, we’ll continue to do that,” Prusha said. 

Two years ago, police dispersed College Fest after drunken revelers began tossing glass bottles and rocks at police officers and other partiers alike. Four thousand people, mostly Kent State students, attended the event, which escalated to rioting, causing the SWAT team to lob tear gas canisters into the unruly crowd.  

The ordeal cost the city of Kent $25,000, an unbudgeted expense, for bringing in reinforcements and paying for damages.

As a result, the city and Kent State have taken initiativeencouraging students to take responsibility for throwing parties.

Starting at the beginning of April, university representatives canvassed student residences, raising awareness about the consequences of violating noise and nuisance ordinances, said Shay Little, associate vice president and dean of students. Canvassers educated residents about the city’s new party-registration process and discouraged them from advertising parties via social media. 

This spring, the city issued letters to landlords, outlining the consequences of violating the city’s nuisance ordinance. If police are called to break up a party at a rental property, the landlord can be fined. 

Prusha said while increased police presence on College Avenue should discourage wild behavior, he does not expect throngs of people crowding the streets, stealing patio furniture and collapsing porches, as in previous years. 

“If I had to look in a crystal ball, I would say that it probably will not happen to the degree that it has in the past when it’s turned into riots,” Prusha said. “There might be a few people having some parties. Hopefully they’ll remain within the law, and we won’t have to take any intervention.”