Dillo Day Safety A Top Priority

Elizabeth Campbell

As students gear up for the weekend, Mayfest organizers, administrators and police are working to ensure that recent decreases in law-breaking on Dillo Day continue this year.

Safety concerns contributed to organizers’ decision to have a headline act perform mid-day as opposed to only at night, like in past years, said Mayfest co-chair Rachel Cort.

Mayfest organizers said they hope Ben Folds’ performance at 12:30 Saturday afternoon will draw students to the Lakefill, the Weinberg junior said. Folds’ availability also played a role in the scheduling: He is performing Saturday night in Milwaukee.

This year Dillo Day planning is focused more on the day’s events and less on off-campus activities, Cort said.

“We put so much effort into the day, ” Cort said. “It would be nice to see students there consistently throughout the day as opposed to just the last couple of hours.”

Food, music and vendors will be on the Lakefill throughout the day, said Mayfest co-chair and Weinberg senior Ben Wolfert. There also will be giveaways, including two free American Airlines plane tickets to anywhere in the United States.

“Our goal has always been to pull people onto the Lakefill where it’s really safer and more fun, rather than at off-campus apartments, fraternities, sororities, residence halls, etc., where there could be considerable amounts of underage drinking,” said Mary Desler, associate vice president, dean of student affairs and chairwoman of the Dillo Day task force.

The task force of students and administrators formed after Dillo Day 2003, “a particularly bad year,” said Asst. Chief Daniel McAleer of University Police.

In 2003, police issued about 100 citations, McAleer said. Also, several students were taken to Evanston Hospital with “dangerously high alcohol levels,” McAleer said.

This is a major concern not just for Mayfest organizers and student affairs administrators but for “every student who has a friend who’s going to Mayfest,” McAleer said.

McAleer said that in 2004 there were about five arrests and 42 citations. Last year, four arrests were made and about 24 citations were issued.

“Overall, it has become better the last two years,” McAleer said. “Armadillo Day is a great tradition, and we just want people to come out and enjoy themselves but understand that the law still applies.”

A significant UP presence will be out on- and off-campus all weekend. Uniformed officers, as well as plainclothes police, will be working to enforce city ordinances, especially those concerning open alcohol in public, legal identification, noise violations and public urination, McAleer said.

Evanston police also will deploy additional officers, working collaboratively with UP, said Deputy Chief Joseph Bellino of the Evanston Police Department.

Interfraternity Council contributed $8,000 to Mayfest’s general band fund, said IFC acting president and Weinberg junior Jimmy Holloran, in hopes that the funds could be used to get a popular headliner during the day.

Additionally, Panhellenic Association and IFC will sponsor a pancake breakfast from 9 to 11 a.m. at Deering Field and pizza on the Lakefill starting at 12:30 p.m., said Panhel president Lisa Juarez. Both events are open to all members of the NU community.

“We obviously want to make sure that people are eating,” the Communication junior said. “A lot of drinking happens, and we just want to make sure that everybody stays safe.”

The Greek community provides a “big part of the social outlet” during Dillo Day, said Kyle Pendleton, director of fraternity and sorority life. “If 40 percent of the student population is addressing safety on that day, then it’s a good start for the majority of the campus.”

Lisa’s Cafe will be open all day this year, a change from past years, Pendleton said.

The Dillo Day task force requested that the cafe stay open for students, Pendleton said. A student affairs administrator will be stationed there if students need assistance throughout the day.

Safety in residence halls is important this weekend because there will be many people on campus not affiliated with the university, said Alan Cubbage, vice president of university relations.

The task force also wanted to address students’ respect for Evanston.

“We want to make sure that no one dumps a flower pot over in the neighborhood,” said Lucile Krasnow, NU’s special assistant for community relations. “We want to make sure that no student is disrespecting private property.”

Krasnow’s job includes informing Evanston residents and aldermen of the university’s plans for Dillo Day weekend.

This year, NU’s neighbors received a hanger to put on their doors, Krasnow said. Each hanger lists Evanston ordinances and the consequences of violating these laws, Krasnow said.

“Neighbors have confidence that the university is working to the best of its ability to ensure appropriate behavior in the neighborhoods,” Krasnow said.

Reach Elizabeth Campbell at [email protected]