House Parties Across Campus Spark Increased Law Enforcement Presence

Campus Safety cites “an uptick” in complaints from nearby neighborhoods as reason for increased surveillance
A group of college students look on as officers from Wooster PD and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department make their rounds on Beall Avenue (Photo: Samuel Boudreau ’23).
Samuel Boudreau, Editor in Chief

Shortly before 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 16, 2023 on the north side of The College of Wooster’s campus, upwards of five Wooster City Police officers and a Wayne County Sheriff’s Department Deputy responded to a complaint from a Wooster resident of an “out of control party” at Bryan House, according to Campus Safety records. According to an incident report from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, the party had upwards of 100 students outside of the house. A Sheriff’s Deputy was called in to assist members of the Wooster Police Department in breaking up the party.

  Bryan House was not alone in Wooster residents’ calls to local and college law enforcement, as Campus Safety received complaints regarding Keiffer House, located on College Avenue, at 1:28 a.m. on Sunday morning. According to The College of Wooster’s “College Policies: Functioning and Property of The College,” quiet hours on College grounds are from 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. Wooster’s city ordinances’ quiet hours run from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. 

  Joe Kirk, Director of Campus Safety, said that dispatch called Campus Safety regarding reports of vandalism from the party at Bryan House. “My understanding is that we got a call from [dispatch] that there were individuals urinating outside and throwing beer bottles at houses,” said Kirk. The Voice’s attempts to contact members of Bryan House were unsuccessful. Kirk said that Wooster PD and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department normally let the College’s Campus Safety Department handle incidents on campus. “They try to see if we can resolve the situation without them, because if they get involved, they’re likely to make an arrest,” said Kirk, “so if they can reach us and get this matter resolved, they don’t need to do a report.” 

  Campus Safety officers initially reported to Bryan House but were met immediately with four Wooster police and Wayne County Sheriff Department units that were on the scene by 12:55 a.m., according to eyewitnesses on the scene. Ann Venditti ’24, a resident of Iceman House, attended the party and said that immediately after Campus Safety arrived on the scene, and began asking students to leave, four units from Wooster City Police and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the house. Vendetti said that the arrival of the sheriff and police departments seemed to catch everyone, including Campus Safety, by surprise. “People were starting to really leave at that point,” said Venditti. 

  Despite the police presence, Wooster PD did not write an incident report on the party at Bryan House. According to Kirk, no arrests were made at the party. After clearing out the party, multiple officers patrolled campus from the north to south end of campus, stopping students along the way. Eli Kuzma ’26 was walking home down Beall Avenue and said that he saw officers flagging down students. “I saw the officers make a girl pour out a drink,” he said. Lauren Ganson ’23 was walking home from the party with friends when two Wooster Police officers stopped the group and questioned them about having open containers of alcohol. “Then, not even a minute later, they stopped us again for the same thing so we walked the long way home to avoid them,” said Ganson. 

  According to the Ohio Revised Code, Section 4301.62, it is illegal for a person to be in possession of an open container of beer or intoxicating liquor in a public space. According to Luftman, Heck & Associates, a law firm in Columbus, “An open container charge is a minor misdemeanor punishable by up to a $150 fine.” Additionally, the firm states that the “charge of alleged beer or intoxicating liquor consumption may lead to larger open container fines as well as the potential for imprisonment.”

  Kirk said that there has been an “uptick” in neighborhood complaints this year, partly due to COVID-19 and more people working from home. “The more complaints they get from community members causes them to come more to our campus to see what is going on,” said Kirk, “so there are a number of community members who are getting frustrated with the process or the way things are happening or not happening or feel like they need outside help to deal with the unruliness of our students sometime.” According to Kirk, the Dean’s office and Campus Safety received complaints from community members regarding I.S. Monday.

  The majority of complaints received by Campus Safety are noise complaints but also vandalism concerns. “They were complaining about one house that was hitting golf balls across the street and were landing in their yard.” Kirk told The Voice that an effective way to restore relations with Wooster residents is to openly communicate with neighbors about a planned party beforehand. Additionally, the College’s Residence Life department holds required meetings that cover campus policies pertaining to students living in houses at the beginning of the semester. 

  If one is stopped by the police, Ohio law requires an individual to state their name, address and date of birth, if the individual is suspected of committing a crime. Refusal to reveal said information may result in a misdemeanor in Ohio. Outside of said personal information, one has a right to remain silent if stopped by the police in public, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Additionally, the ACLU states that individuals have the right to reject a police officers’ search of you or your belongings, unless the officer has a warrant or suspects you have a weapon. An individual also does not need to reveal their U.S. citizenship or birthplace, if asked by a police officer. The ACLU also recommends remaining calm, keeping your hands up, and telling the truth to help reduce risks when confronted by an officer. 

  If you are arrested or detained by the police, the ACLU advises an individual to say that you wish to remain silent, ask for a lawyer, and not make any decisions without the advice of one’s lawyer. If arrested or detained, one has the right to make a local phone call. Police are not allowed to listen to phone calls with a lawyer. If you believe your rights are violated, the ACLU recommends recording these interactions, either through our phone or written notes to the best of your ability. Police officers do not have the right to confiscate your phone without a warrant (ACLU). 

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