Residents warned about College Fest 2013

Submitted Photo.

Submitted Photo.

Alexis Pfeifer

Residents of College Avenue were warned to restrain from hosting College Fest Saturday and threatened actions from landlords, Kent City Police and the university if the event disrupted the peace.

Police will patrol College Avenue Saturday with more forces coming later in the day, backed by other stations and the SWAT team, if necessary. Consequences of hosting the event scared some residents, while others still plan to host the event.

College Fest takes place every April on College Avenue. The block party attracts students to the street, but after excessive unruly behavior last year, more than 30 people were arrested. The SWAT team responded with tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the crowd as people threw bottles into the street and at officers.

The event, which is unaffiliated with Kent State, has made headlines for riots in previous years as well, including the 2009 College Fest where couches were set on fire.

This year, Kent City Police Lt. Jim Prusha said they are making efforts to stop the event from getting out of hand before the block party begins.

“We’re going to be ready in case [College Fest does happen],” Prusha said. “There will be more officers enforcing every law. There were too many injuries and laws broken last year.”

In addition to the regular Saturday morning-shift officers, extra officers will be present in the morning, monitoring the street with extra help from the SWAT team if needed, Prusha said.

One College Avenue resident said he still plans to host a party, regardless of the threatened consequences, if cops aren’t posted on the street early in the morning.

“We were informed that if people are found drinking on our property that [police] will give out either an underage or open container [charge] to every person,” said Tim McDonough, a junior technology student. “I think they’re trying to scare us.”

While Prusha said he hopes the event doesn’t happen this year, he will be patrolling just in case. Prusha said he will not end small gatherings of behaved residents, but if it gets to the point where punches and beer bottles are thrown, he will have to step in.

“Cops just react,” Prusha said. “We try our best for what might come up.”

Prusha said the most common violations from previous years have been underage drinking, assault, disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and theft.

Other residents, including junior Katie Brentlinger and senior Ben Linkel, said they are not hosting the event this year because of the consequences they may face.

“We can get evicted by our landlord, be faced with insane fines, as well as be expelled from Kent State,” Brentlinger said. “The consequences are not worth it.”

Although police will be stationed on the street to prevent an event like last year from happening, Prusha said all laws that apply 365 days a year will be watched Saturday.

“I think people are actually going to take it serious this year,” Brentlinger said. “The fact that they are going to expel students I think is scaring everyone. Cops will be here again on the street, ready for action.”

The expected size of the crowd this year is undetermined. Prusha said the police department has taken every action to stop the event from getting out of hand before it even starts by contacting landlords to warn their residents.

“I expect the crowd to be smaller,” McDonough said. “I feel a lot of Kent [State] students are playing it by ear because of all the rumors [of the cancelled event] going on.”

Linkel expects a higher police presence because of how out of hand the event got last year. McDonough believes the presence of police trying to stop the event is because College Fest is giving the university a bad name.

“This makes Kent State look bad,” Prusha said. “It’s not a good reputation for the university.”

Contact Alexis Pfeifer at [email protected].