Homecoming 2017: town and gown gear up

 

The Indiana Area Collaborative Team rallied on Monday at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, Oct. 2, 2017. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

By Logan R. Hullinger

INDIANA – A wide cross-section of the local town-and-gown community met Monday to discuss carrots and sticks to prod the coming weekend’s Indiana University of Pennsylvania Homecoming celebrations to pass with safety, sobriety and a positive spin.

About 60 public-safety representatives, campus administrators, students, landlords and others attended the hourlong late-afternoon meeting of the Indiana Area Collaborative Team at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. The by-reservation-only gathering allowed limited public view of a group that has been quasi-secretive from its start three years ago.

On Monday, IUP President Michael A. Driscoll recalled the formation of the I-ACT group in the aftermath of the March 2014 IUPatty’s weekend that drew widespread headlines for its frat-row rowdiness.

“I-ACT started after very unpleasant activities in the community fueled by alcohol and lack of common standards,” said Driscoll.

Driscoll discussed activities designed to draw Oct. 5-7 celebrants to university-sponsored events. But discussion turned to concerns about public-relations problems that rowdy celebrations create for the campus and for the community.

“We are prepared to act in case things get out of hand,” Driscoll said.

 

PREPARATIONS include a doubling of police presence, enlisting landlords in the patrol effort and centralizing of public information, according to the I-ACT discussion.

“We have prepared a detailed plan and we will have extra patrols in force throughout the weekend,” said Pennsylvania State Trooper Clifford A. Greenfield. “We will have our mounted unit. Expect to see police forces on the streets from surrounding areas, as usual. Be confident that we do have a very good plan in place.”

Indiana County Sheriff Robert E. Fyock said the plan extended beyond public safety to public imagery.

“It’s an overall combined effort to make this a safe welcoming to IUP instead of a mass destruction,” Fyock said. “We’re trying to get rid of that stigma.”

 

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“It’s an overall combined effort to make this a safe welcoming to IUP instead of a mass destruction,” Fyock said. “We’re trying to get rid of that stigma.”

Indiana County Sheriff Robert E. Fyock, Oct. 2, 2017

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Robin A. Gorman, IUP executive assistant to the president for government and community relations, described the university’s public-relations strategy.

IUP President Michael A. Driscoll and executive assistant Robin A. Gorman, I-ACT meeting, Oct. 2, 2017, KCAC. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

“It is about putting the right face and messaging on all the work that goes into these kind of things,” Gorman said. “We want people to feel welcomed and informed. We are mixing good stuff in while emphasizing there are consequences for doing bad things.”

University spokeswoman Michelle S. Fryling predicted “very positive things” for the coming weekend and a uniform message to media.

“Instances where emergency management and police have a microphone in their face when they’re taking care of what they need to do, Michelle Fryling takes care of it,” Fryling said.

Dick Clawson, president of the Indiana Landlord Association, said his members should be prepared to call police on their tenants.

“We are going to summarize what we heard today and blast out an email to all of our landlords,” he said. “We will remind everyone to call 9-1-1 if landlords have issues.”

Assistant borough manager Dana Turgeon pledged backup for the landlords’ party-policing.

“If landlords want the party removed, we will go in there with permission from the owner of the property and disperse it,” Turgeon said. “If you can’t move in the house, or the yard, it’s a safety issue. It’s a judgment call on us.”

 

STUDENT Carson F. Nicholas, vice president of IUP’s Student Government Association,  cited fraternities’ involvement in the “annual Homecoming cleanup” as an example of Greek contributions to boosting town-gown relations.

Nicholas, a member of IUP’s Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, acknowledged that fraternities host parties that contribute to messes that fraternities clean up. But he praised Greek involvement.

“I’m in a fraternity,” he said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to show that we’re not the stereotypes that everyone thinks we are. We don’t want things to get out of hand. We’re not the ones causing trouble, if there’s any being causes.”

Officially sanctioned Homecoming festivities begin Thursday with a concert.

 Logan R. Hullinger, a senior journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a staff reporter for The HawkEye, is from Clarion. He may be contacted at L.R.Hullinger@iup.edu

 

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