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Admins: Brock-the-Port is over

By Cassandra Negley
On December 4, 2012

Brock-the-Port will not take place in 2013, at least not in the current capacity students know it as. 

Dave Mihalyov, chief communication officer for the college, said administrators made the decision to end Brock-the-Port, though there will be programming the last week of classes. 

"We started thinking about it not long after last year's Brock-the-Port, once we started getting the statistics in from University Police and Brockport Village Police Department," Mihalyov said. "And [we took into account] the information received, the stories we heard [and] the complaints from internal and external people." 

Brockport Student Government President Samantha Wheeler declined an interview request to discuss Brock-the-Port, the yearly event held on the last Friday of classes in the spring that includes concerts, food and activities on campus.

In a text to The Stylus regarding setting up a meeting time, Wheeler said "We're not commenting on Brock the Port until at least after break." 

Wheeler said she'd be happy to discuss anything else, but would not comment on the end-of-the-year event. 

BSG has not responded to students on social media sites asking about the anticipated program, with the exception of a tweet Nov. 29. A student tweeted asking if the rumors of Brock-the-Port's cancelation were true, to which BSG replied, "rumors ... or a bad joke?"

The college administration does not control what or who BSG brings to campus. Though Mihalyov said to his understanding, the administration has to approve how the organization spends its money. 

According to Mihalyov, BSG executives President Samantha Wheeler, Vice President Brian Witmer and Treasurer Sandy Evans were told of the decision in a meeting with Katy Wilson, vice president of Enrollment management and Student Affairs, President John Halstead and Robert Kehoe, chief of University Police (UP). 

Administration and the student affairs division want to work with BSG on alternative programming for the last week of classes instead of the one-day extravaganza, Mihalyov said. 

"Student safety is the biggest thing," Mihalyov said. "Institutional reputation does come into play. We recognize that the majority of people who were arrested were not Brockport students. However, the anticipation of both the on-campus Brock-the-Port event and everything else going on kind of made Brockport a destination for out of town young adults. 

"The college has put a lot of work in the last 10 to 15 years, both time, energy and money, to improve our academic standing and reputation. We don't really want to go backward with that."

According to a police grievance filed May 4 to the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the union for university police officers,  there were 22 safe working condition contract violations. 

According to the grievance, approximately 5,000 people attended and only 15 UP members were working. This resulted in one UP member for every 300-plus attendees and at one point when there were only 12 officers, one for every 400-plus attendees. 

The documents stated no additional police officers were called in, and between the hours of 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. there were at least 43 police oriented calls with one dispatcher to handle them all as well as the radio, walk-ins and running data. 

According to the grievance, officers could not hear their radios due to noise and in one instance, two officers were assaulted and hit by members of the crowd while taking people into custody. 

"It was taxing on emergency services and law enforcement," Mihalyov said. "The local media had a field day with this. We're trying to protect the safety of the students and the reputation of the institution." 

The Democrat and Chronicle ran a front-page story in its news section on the lead up to Brock-the-Port and every Rochester TV outlet ran a story on it. 

Mihalyov said to a degree that was "part of the equation," but only one of many factors to the cancelation. 

"We try to listen to voices in the community, too," Mihalyov said. "All of the activities surrounding Brock-the-Port did not help our relationship with the village. We're trying to be cooperative with the village as well.

"It just seems to get bigger and bigger. Again, it's made Brockport a destination for kids outside of the area and I think that's what's causing the majority of the issues." 

Daniel De Federicis, the executive director of the PBA, said his concern with Brock-the-Port is the amount of officers at the event instead of the event itself. 

Brock-the-Port, held yearly on the last Friday of classes in the spring, is BSG's biggest event.  In 2011, the organization spent 49 percent of its total programming budget ($150,000 out of a $305,733.45). According to the 2011 BSG officials, performers Less Than Jake and Chiddy Bang cost $30,000 combined and amusement park rides cost $30,000. Brock-the-Port also included food and other games and activities, held in the Tuttle North Ice Arena. 

Typically, the celebration is an all-day event, as students wake up and start drinking. 

Bars offered eggs and mimosas for last year's festivities and drunken college students litter the village and campus. 

"It should happen," De Federicis said. "We have absolutely no issue with Brock-the-Port as an event. Just plan for it properly. I'd never suggest such a thing [as canceling Brock-the-Port]. It's a college campus, it's the end of the semester [and] it's 75 degrees outside. Just plan appropriately." 

He said for such an event the college needs to be proactive and plan in advance. 

 He said requesting outside assistance from nearby police agencies is necessary, even if the agencies are on standby. 

"You take 5,000 [people] in any event, especially in a party atmosphere, and from what I know about Brock-the-Port, that is the atmosphere at the end of the semester, it seems logical [incidents with the police will happen]," De Federicis said.  "Sometimes things like [Brock-the-Port] get out of hand. So you are proactive and you plan. You have advanced planning. 

"Hopefully, 99 percent of the plan you don't need to use, but you still plan for those things to happen."

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