Drop in Bonfire arrests, citations credits
University efforts to clean up tradition
As always, Bonfire was an event to remember. Aggies worked together and created an event everyone could enjoy. In fact, in some aspects this year's Bonfire was more enjoyable than past events.
The University Police Department announced alcohol arrests and citations at Bonfire were lower than previous years' totals.
It is unfortunate to see the University bragging about 89 combined citations and arrests, but considering the status of Bonfire only a few years ago, the numbers are a good sign.
In response to the increase in poor behavior at Bonfire, UPD instituted zero-tolerance alcohol policy, and not a moment to soon. Before the department's new policy, Bonfire had become less a symbol of the burning desire to beat t.u. and more a symbol of the negative aspects of alcohol.
Many who attended Bonfire viewed the event as an excuse for public inebriation, and their behavior made it difficult for sober participants to enjoy the annual wood-burning party. Community residents were hesitant to bring their families to Bonfire because participants were rowdy, obnoxious and sometimes violent.
Over the past few years, however, several groups have worked to improve Bonfire. The Bonfire Alcohol Awareness Committee has attempted to persuade students to forego alcohol during the celebration. The committee conducts a campaign shortly before Bonfire encouraging students to sign pledge cards agreeing not to drink at Bonfire.
The Alcohol and Drug Education Programs office of the Department of Student Life has similarly worked to convince students alcohol does not have to be part of this annual event. Throughout the year, the office conducts efforts to remind students of the laws pertaining to alcohol use and the consequences of violating those laws.
UPD has done a good job enforcing the law at Bonfire site. This year 60 UPD officers were patrolling at the site trying to keep things orderly. Fortunately, there was less for them to do than there has been in previous years.
With an estimated crowd of 60-70,000, there were only 72 UPD citations and 18 arrests. These lower numbers are a great credit to the many groups who have worked to make Bonfire a family event once again.
Hopefully the tradition will continue to improve and the number of alcohol-related offenses will continue to decrease. It is unfortunate that UPD had to cite or arrest close to 100 people, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.