Students pitch in to ensure Carnival safety

Strolling down Midway at Carnival last weekend, Sewickley resident Anna Torrance continued a tradition. A Pittsburgh native, Torrance has attended CMU?s annual Spring Carnival all her life. Last week, toting four youngsters through the Morewood parking lot, Torrance felt comfortable bringing her children to the college carnival she fondly remembers. ?It?s very kid-friendly!? she said.
For Emily Leathers, assistant security chair on Carnival Committee, such a reaction means success. ?If you don?t notice security or safety issues, then we?re doing our job,? she said. As evident by the thousands of adolescents on the midway last weekend, Torrance wasn?t the only parent who felt comfortable having children at Carnival.
The Carnival Committee ensured the safety and security of the booths by making each organization sign a contract outlining its rules. According to the student advisor for Carnival Committee, senior computer science major Eric Faden, the campus fire marshal and faculty member Larry Cartwright tested for the booths? structural integrity before they were permitted to open.
Booths that did not meet the safety standards did not open until the organizations made the necessary changes, and at least one booth closed due to safety issues.
According to Leathers, three groups of individuals assisted in making sure Midway was safe. Donning fluorescent yellow-green jackets, members of the Carnival Committee served as Security Watch, while booth representatives patrolled as Midway Watch throughout Carnival. Campus police provided the overarching security, always having at least four police officers on the Midway, according to CMPD Lieutenant John Race. Stationed outside of the comedian and the band, campus police could quickly notify the Pittsburgh police if an altercation occurred.
In his more than 30 years with the Carnegie Mellon Police Department, Sergeant Rich Sima has seen a notable decrease in the amount of crime during Carnival, noting that during previous Carnivals, jewelry theft was common. Sima cites the increased security as a possible explanation for the crime reduction. ?It has quieted down extremely over the last six years,? Sima said.
?Crime is sporadic. Anything can happen at any time,? said CMPD Sergeant Bill Ricci. ?[But] it?s a lot different during the day. At night it?s a different complexion.?
According to Sima, the number of alcohol citations that campus police dispense increases almost fivefold during Carnival ? from an average of four or five during a typical weekend to approximately 23 during Carnival.
Race notes that students weren?t the only people on campus to be cited with alcohol violations. According to the lieutenant, alumni are typically the most problematic group, engaging in activities such as public drunkenness and trying to pry open locked doors.
?The only sanction that applies to them is a court session,? said Race, referring to the punishment that alumni receive for alcohol violations.
During the evening, campus police added the fraternity quadrangle to the list of areas to patrol. According to Sima, six police officers patrolled the area from 11 pm to 4 am, in contrast to the four officers who normally patrol during Rush.
?We?re always on alert for alcohol consumption; it?s just a little more intense these three days,? said Sima.
With the heightened restrictions on the fraternities following alcohol incidents last semester, fraternity brothers have noticed the effect. ?There are [fewer] drunken people [at Carnival] than last year,? said Emil Tarazi, a Kappa Delta Rho brother and senior ECE major. Tarazi said that as a result, the majority of alcohol consumption has relocated to off-campus venues.
As CMU students moved off campus this Carnival, hundreds of students from area colleges moved on to attend the festivities. According to both Leathers and Race, the outside population never posed a problem.
It appears that non-CMU students felt safe at CMU?s Carnival. According to Washington & Jefferson College sophomore Nadia Mills, ?I wasn?t too thrilled with the smells emanating from the Hall of Mirrors, but I felt very safe in the student-built structures.?