April 15, 2005

Council Discusses Slope Day Plans

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With less than a month left to go until Slope Day and final preparations starting to solidify, the Collegetown Neighborhood Council met yesterday to provide University officials, city officials, students and Collegetown residents a forum to share plans and voice concerns. Security issues were a top on the priority list, as were the effects that Slope Day would have on Collegetown.

Planners’ main concern is that Snoop Dog, who is this year’s main performer for Slope Day, will attract an unmanageable number of outside, non-student visitors. According to Stephen Blake ’05, president of the Slope Day Programming Board, restrictions on outside visitors will be tighter this year than in the past.

“This year, the big change in terms of policy is, we’re pre-selling guest tickets. We’re doing that next Wednesday … and then after that, our publicity most likely will be switched to ‘sold out, sold out, sold out,’ … if you don’t have a ticket you’re not going to get in,” Blake said at the meeting.

Tickets will be sold through a professional web site, Blake said, and will require a valid NetID and Kerberos login to purchase. Each student may purchase up to two tickets at $25 each, and only NetIDs belonging to current undergraduates will be valid for buying tickets.

“They’re professionally-ordered tickets, we’re spending over $1,000 on them, they’re laminated … They’re not printed off the web, we figured that’s a problem we don’t want to get into,” Blake added, addressing concerns that people would forge tickets to see the show. Blake said that about 10,000 people came to Slope Day this year, about 2,000 of which were students’ guests.

“This year … I’d estimate anywhere from 12 to 15,000 people on a very nice day, at the max,” he said.

The University has tried to publicize that Slope Day is closed to the general public, but University officials are worried that Snoop Dog’s popularity will nevertheless attract many non-students. They anticipate a possible problem when these people are rejected from the Slope.

“We’ve done some different things with the fencing to discourage anybody from hanging outside any viewable area,” said Catherine Holmes M.S. ’85, associate dean of students for student activities and co-chair of the Slope Day Logistics Committee. “A banner will be hung off some of the taller chain-link fence, so it really is going to be a visual barrier as well as to a physical barrier.”

Cornell also writes to the principals of all of the local high schools to ask them to tell their students that they will not be able to get onto the Slope, said Gary Stewart, vice president of government and community relations.

Holmes also said that the Ithaca Police Department and Ithaca Fire Department will help ensure security and safety at the event. Cornell will reimburse the IPD for the costs of extra policing, and it will try to help the IFD as much as it can financially. The IFD will have an extra engine on call during Slope Day, Holmes said, in case its other engines get tied up at the Slope.

In addition to professional security, Cornell asks students to volunteer to keep the Slope in control. According to Holmes, the University is hoping for a total of about 800 volunteers, and about 215 have already signed up. Last year, about 500 to 600 volunteers registered, Holmes added, of which 30 percent did not show up. One change in the volunteer system this year is the addition of “level two” volunteers, who will be “a little more assertive,” Holmes said.

Several Common Council members and Collegetown residents attended the meeting and asked about Slope Day’s effects on Collegetown.

In a response to a question Common Council member Gayraud Townsend ’05 (D-4th Ward) had about pre-Slope Day drinking, Stewart said that the dean of students’ office traditionally sends out a letter “to anyone who sells alcohol in the area, stores included, asking them not to make special events, to not open early, things like that.” Blake said that this letter has not been sent out yet, but that only three to five percent of alcohol consumed on Slope Day takes place in bars.

But David Pepin, the owner of the bar Dunbars in Collegetown, did not express enthusiasm at this request.

“Even though I don’t open any more early … if three percent of the alcohol consumed that morning is in bars or taverns, what do you try to do to the 97 percent? … The frats that I know are partying all night long the night before, they don’t even go to bed. And to ask me not to open when it would be perfectly legal to do so — I’ve done it, but I question, in an atmosphere where there’s no supervision, why nobody wants me to sell beer but the frats can party all night long — and house parties, I’m not just picking on frats,” Pepin said.

Cornell University Police Department Sgt. Kathy Zoner said that the University cannot legally force anyone, whether private house parties or bars, to operate if they are within the law. But, she said, the University will be controlling fraternity parties.

“We’re doing a party control that is designed in conjunction with the police department to try to make sure that fraternities’ guidelines are met, which means they have to pre-register their parties, if they’re having alcohol there they have to apply for their licensing, and they’ve got to basically jump through a bunch of hoops. And if the hoops aren’t jumped through … then we will take care of that,” Zoner said.

Residents also raised concerns that the revelry on the Slope would end up generating trash off campus and in Collegetown. Kristen Rich ’06, vice president of University and community relations for the Panhellenic Association, said that the annual Collegetown Cleanup which the Greek system organizes is tentatively planned for May 8, two days after Slope Day.

Archived article by Yuval Shavit
Sun City Editor