This weekend, fans of maize and blue will be seeing a lot of green — and alcohol.
University and city officials are promoting a “Stay in the Blue” campaign, advocating responsible drinking for the holiday weekend.
The University will be hosting several events over the weekend, including the Honors Convocation, cheering on the Michigan Basketball team in the Big Ten Conference Tournament and St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
Sarah Daniels, assistant dean of students, said the Division of Student Affairs is partnering with student groups to make sure there would be no conflicts for visitors during the busy weekend.
“In anticipating there will be a lot of external guests on campus, we want to make sure we have a robust weekend with positive messages out there for how students can celebrate appropriately with events that are alternatives to what people may consider as things to do this weekend — alternative events on campus this weekend that are safe and fun,” Daniels said.
Joy Pehlke, a Alcohol and Other Drug health educator with the University Health Service, said the student-driven safety campaign was launched for the first night football game against Notre Dame last year. A similar program for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend aims to produce the same result.
“Part of the efforts we did then to really reduce harm were not only the events that were going on but some of the outreach — outreach with the bars and restaurants, specifically on State Street and closer to campus, and educate them on how to ‘Stay in the Blue’,” Pehlke said.
Pehlke said the groups passed out 10,000 “Stay in the Blue” coasters to bars and restaurants along with a letter signed by a number of University officials supporting the effort to monitor alcohol practices this weekend. The letter asks the participating sites to include non-alcoholic specials, focus on serving food and reduce risks — like by not serving drinks in glass bottles.
“Community members are a major part of the effort to reduce consequences that may happen in the city,” Pehlke said. “The police don’t have to be the only ones around (watching out for public safety).”
Pehlke said the community has been extremely receptive to the campaign as they want a profitable but drama-free weekend.
LSA sophomore Tommy Wydra, vice president of social responsibility for the Interfraternity Council, said even though relatively cold temperatures have been forecasted for this weekend, students will most likely hold parties on off-campus locations during the daytime. He said fraternities have coordinated major events for Saturday to allow for a less chaotic environment for visitors coming to town on Sunday.
The IFC is heading up a student safety lookout program called Michigan Ambassadors. Student volunteers were trained by University Health Services, UMPD and AAPD to evaluate the safeness of parties.
LSA Student Government, Central Student Government and Beyond the Diag, a student organization promoting off-campus safety, are partnering up to keep students entertained and safe on Sunday. The groups will take shifts passing out food at different locations on- and off-campus.
Caroline Canning, the president of LSA Student Government, said volunteers will be passing out bagels in the morning for early partiers. The group will be located in areas with a high concentration of students: outside the Union, at the corner of South University and East University streets, and the neighborhood area on Oakland and East University streets.
“We just want to make sure that students when they are waking up early are able to have food in their stomachs and stay safe throughout the day,” Canning said.
CSG will also be hosting its second annual tailgate on the Diag. There will be performances, music and free food for students.
“We don’t want to ruin the fun, we just want everyone to be fed and hydrated,” said Jill Clancy, chief programming officer of the CSG executive board.
Additionally, there will be Big Ten Tournament watch parties at the CCRB, the U Club and Pierpont Commons Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as long as the team continues in the tournament all weekend.
Pehlke said these events are usually well attended by students and added that it is a common misconception on campus that students celebrate activities mainly through consuming alcohol.
“All of our studies and research has shown that most of our students drink in a safe way and/or don’t drink,” Pehlke said. “So that’s actually the norm.”
University Police spokeswoman Diane Brown said in a statement that there will be additional uniformed officers patrolling the Central Campus area throughout the weekend. She added that Joe Piersante, UMPD chief and the interim executive director of the Division of Public Safety and Security, has also been collaborating with Ann Arbor Police Chief John Seto and the Dean of Students’ office regarding the “stay safe” messages for students.
“We’re anticipating that students and others will celebrate passionately, but also responsibly and stay safe,” Brown said.