Northwestern students celebrating Halloween at the University of Wisconsin will not be allowed to stay in university housing, Wisconsin administrators announced last week in a letter to Big Ten schools. Wisconsin administrators will also contact the universities of visiting students who are arrested at the Halloween hotspot.
The new policies, which include a ban on glass bottles and parking restrictions, come after an “out of hand” Halloween 2004, said Lori Berquam, Interim Dean of Students at Wisconsin.
“Some revelers decided to light some Halloween costumes on fire – it became a mosh pit with people body-slamming and police in full riot gear,” Berquam said.
The school’s private residence halls will use wristbands to identify students who live there. Student IDs will be checked against a roster of students in Wisconsin dorms. Visitors can still stay at hotels or off-campus apartments, Berquam said.
Madison officials say NU students who are arrested will be reported to the university. However, administrators here cannot take disciplinary action against them unless they went to Madison with a student group, said Mary Desler, NU’s dean of students.
“Their policies allow us to take action, but ours do not if the event does not occur on university premises or on premises subject to the jurisdiction of University Police,” Desler said. “If our students go to Madison and are involved in violations of the law, we would definitely have a conversation with those students.”
Desler said if students are arrested who are at Madison with a student group, the university could take disciplinary action. That includes fraternities and sororities, she said.
Communication junior Maddy Merritt is one of many NU students who flock to Madison for Halloween.
“It’s a more wild, state-school vibe there,” said Merritt, who was there her freshman and sophomore years. “Here it is just small parties with friends. There are wilder, bigger parties at Madison.”
Merritt said she saw a student on State Street dressed as an elf and climbing a 50-foot tree. Other students were dressed in handmade genitalia costumes, she said.
The new policies come after three years of Halloween celebrations at Wisconsin that have brought thousands of out-of-state revelers to campus. Last year 490 students were arrested, 85 percent of whom were not Wisconsin students, according to Berquam, the university’s dean of students.
Outside of the school’s infamous party scene, there is no specific Halloween tradition or event drawing visitors.
“There’s the whole number one party school reputation, our football team is doing pretty well – these things come together and collide and with that comes the influx of guests,” Berquam said. “We had 75,000 students last year and we only have 42,000 students, so these numbers are coming from somewhere.”
Swapna Musunuru said the new policies will not stop her from going to Madison for Halloween. The Communication junior said she is just going to see friends from high school and is staying in a house off-campus.
“I’ve been wanting to go for a few years now,” she said, “and this is the first year I could.”
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