Forum explores safer Franklin St. parties
In a community forum Monday night several students and town officials affirmed that although traditional celebrations on Franklin Street following big basketball wins are central to UNC's heritage they must be altered for safety.
A group of about 30 people including students community members University administrators and public safety officials" met in Murphey Hall to discuss ways to make the celebrations more safe.
""The goal is just to incubate ideas"" said former Carolina Athletic Association President Andrew Coonin, who spearheaded the meeting.
The dialogue began with presentations by Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian Curran, Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp. All three said they wanted the tradition to continue but pointed out safety issues.
One was the issue of fires. According to Jones, at one point last Monday there were 24 fires burning at the same time. Eight students received treatment at the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals.
Just because something is a tradition doesn't mean that it's something we should keep doing"" Crisp said. It's just flat-out dangerous.""
A second issue was the destructive nature of the partying. Administrators cited reports of sexual assault" property damage and theft. Curran even said that he saw one man climb a light pole" pull out a pocket knife and attempt to saw through a power line with a live current running through it.
""It's when people start acting in ways that can hurt" injure or harm someone that I think it needs to be discussed Coonin said.
Attendees also made suggestions about ways to curb binge drinking.
If we're going to be honest and we're going to have a discussion about it we have to talk about alcohol" Crisp said.
Former Student Body President J.J. Raynor suggested giving out free food to keep people from drinking as much.
Many students echoed the safety concerns of administrators and several offered solutions for future Franklin Street celebrations.
Noting the effect that one student with a boom box had on the Monday night crowd, senior Nikida Koraly proposed the addition of a rooftop disc jockey to the celebration.
Music could be so uniting"" she said. A rooftop DJ would spread people down the street.""
Other students suggested strategies for spreading out the crowd and giving students something to do other than build fires.
A graffiti wall" the addition of merchandise vendors the broadcast of the players' post-game celebration on a big screen and even a foam party were ideas introduced.
Others included a family-friendly celebration held in the Dean Dome and a more concerted media effort to get the word out about fire safety.
Attendees were encouraged to remain involved with continued safety efforts by writing down their names and e-mail addresses to receive more information. No other concrete plans were made for moving forward.
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