Kent police could have done more

If the Kent Police Department’s estimates are correct, about 20,000 revelers lined the streets of campus and downtown Kent Saturday evening.

They were there to celebrate Halloween in a way only college students can get away with: one big, drunken costume party.

But as the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

For the students and officers stationed on South Lincoln Street, the fun and games ended shortly after midnight. It was then, after a man was struck and seriously injured after allegedly being pushed into the side of a moving truck in front of the Delta Upsilon fraternity house, that the party stopped being fun.

The incident raises two big issues for the city and university.

First, the police could and should do more to protect the students and party-goers on Halloween. Yes, there were several dozen officers on street corners and in cruisers looking out for students too drunk to look out for themselves (see this point below). That’s a definite step in the right direction. However, cops yelling “get back” and “stay on the sidewalk” aren’t going to protect all the partiers who drunkenly stumble or purposely step into oncoming traffic.

The drivers, for the most part, understood the basic rules of the situation: Drive very, very, very slowly, and keep your foot trained on the brake at all times. This, however, assumes every driver is both sober and not distracted – say by talking on a cell phone making plans for the evening or gawking at the crazy costumes.

But really, who in their right mind wants to drive through a crowd of drunken students dressed up as penises and beer kegs? Main Street may be the most convenient route to travel from one side of the city to the other, but there are alternative, less crowded (and therefore less dangerous) routes through which traffic could easily be diverted through for one night a year.

There is no good reason why the major party routes, including South Lincoln Street, Main Street in downtown and Franklin Avenue, are not blocked off on Halloween. There were thousands of people crowding the sidewalks at the slowest of times. This puts stress on the drivers as well as the officers on duty and students trying to have a good time.

The second point is perhaps the most important and obvious: Students are adults and need to take responsibility for themselves. They shouldn’t get to the point where they are too drunk to know not to dart into traffic or so angry they’re starting fights.

Being an adult old enough to consume alcohol implies that you should be mature enough to know when enough is enough and how to behave under the influence.

No amount of protection by the police can protect dumb students from themselves.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater.