OU Spring Fests May Fall Flat

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Firetrucks- scores of arrests- SWAT Teams.

Doesn't sound like something you'd expect to see on an residential street in Athens, but all were there at Palmerfest last spring when the street party was declared a riot zone.

"I didn't even know what was going on until I saw the National Guard coming down the street and like everyone was leaving but … it was definitely scary."

Renee Horton was one of the students there when the party was shutdown.

While this year's fest scene is not certain to be free of such problems, the switch from the academic quarters to semesters may limit street fests:  Putting students on the same academic schedule as many other colleges means students from other schools will still be in class when OU's springfests get underway.  

OU Interim Dean of Students Jenny Hall says the change may keep rowdy visitors away from the campus during those events.

"On the quarter system before all of the students on semesters were out and they would come down and join Ohio University students in the parties. We've always talked about how our school students kind of respect Athens and our students respect Ohio University's rules and often times it's the friends of students who don't respect Athens."

And the Numbers are there to prove it: Of the 330 arrests made during last quarter's house parties – more than half were visitors – not OU students.

The semester switch also presents partiers with a weather dilemma: In the past, fests occurred in late spring during warmer weather.

Now, with a school year beginning in August and ending in May, warm-weather parties may be forced into fall.

This weekend marks the first of the new set of these fall-fests: Ark Fest.

No one knows what to expect, but Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle says his department is prepared to respond – quickly.

"We can mobilize our whole department in 30-minutes or less, and we've done that in the last twenty-years on several occasions.  Having a plan in place is a comfort-thing, but certainly if we feel we've fallen short we're prepared to mobilize a lot of resources in a short amount of time.

As for students, change is not something students like Horton seem worried about.

"I think it just depends on what happens. I don't really think it will change much. I think there will always be a select few people that will ruin it for everyone."