Lefton, Ruller tout positive city, university relationship after riot

Christina Stavale

WATCH President Lefton’s Thurdsay afternoon press conference.

WATCH an exclusive in-office interview with President Lefton.

READ Lefton’s message to the university this week wherein he addresses last weekend’s riot.

President Lester Lefton and City Manager Dave Ruller said they plan to look beyond this past weekend’s events to continue a positive environment between the city and university.

As far as the rest of the semester is concerned, safety is their most important goal, the two said in a joint press conference yesterday afternoon.

“It’s unfortunate that this past weekend a few students and some people from outside of the city came and created some disruptive behavior that escalated into a very difficult situation that involved the police,” Lefton said.

Ruller said he and the rest of the city – which he considers the “extended family” of the university – was disappointed by the College Fest riots but is optimistic about the future.

“I’m confident that this is a blip on the radar screen; we’ll learn from it what we can,” Ruller said.

Moving forward, he said the city is ready for this weekend with more enforcement regulating the early evening hours, and he is hoping things will stay in moderation.

Lefton added that a task force is in the works to monitor crowd control and partying responsibly. Other universities have the same problems, he said, and that’s why it’s so important to look at possible solutions.

“We’re not the only college town in America,” Lefton said. “There are other college towns with lots of students and beer drinking and parties (that) tend to be problematic.”

Lefton advised students to remember police are charged with enforcing the law, noting especially the open container and underage drinking laws.

Ruller said students should beware of people they don’t know who come and crash their parties.

He also pointed out that Kent has limited resources in terms of its police and fire departments, and things like bonfires in the street can tie up critical resources if there were to be an emergency.

Lefton suggested possibly having a university-sponsored bonfire in an open field to allow students a safe way of having fun.

“Maybe we can find a field where we can say, ‘Let’s have a bonfire. Let’s everybody come with wood, and let’s everybody come with matches, and let’s do it in a legal, safe, responsible way that doesn’t involve alcohol,'” Lefton said.

Contact public affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].