Roundup 2013 was safe, but overcrowding a major issue

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Although Roundup was considered a relatively successful event in terms of safety, the festive weekend was not without its woes.

Sergeant Alfred Trejo of the Austin Police Department region one district representative unit agreed Roundup 2013 was safe to attend and cited a lack of arrests and serious injuries, but said overcrowding and failure to abide by city ordinances put a damper on the celebration. 

Trejo is part of a Public Assembly Code Enforcement (PACE) team, a group of APD officers, AFD fire marshals and officers from the city’s code compliance group. The group is a team that handles special events throughout the city year-round. 

According to a report filed by Trejo’s team, the PACE team issued 36 tickets for minors in possession of alcohol and one ticket for public urination. The Austin Fire Department issued three tickets for fire code violations. A total of six parties were shut down. The PACE team made no arrests and did not receive any reports of serious injury or assault. 

“Roundup was fairly safe this year,” Trejo said. “Last year it seemed like the fraternities were doing a better job of regulating the amount of people that attended their parties. Generally speaking, this year they didn’t do a good job [of that].” 

According to Trejo, five parties were shut down because of overcrowding. The sixth party was shut down because a few attendants began throwing bottles at police officers. 

“Roundup would have gone a lot better if they just regulated overcrowding,” Trejo said. “Generally speaking, some parties did a good job and others didn’t.”

Donald James McNamara, president of the University Interfraternity Council, said it is out of the jurisdiction of his organization to deny entry to anyone but high school students and minors. Overcrowding and code compliance is in the hands of individual fraternities. 

“The problem is that Roundup has become a near-national event,” McNamara said. “On Friday we swiped IDs from the University of Anchorage in Alaska. The IFC’s only goal is to make sure our member organizations have a good risk framework to prevent high school students from attending their parties. The real goal would be to have each organization prevent overcapacity, which is not an easy task.”

Between March 20 and March 23, the IFC distributed close to 20,000 Roundup wristbands. The wristbands were designed to curb high school turnout. McNamara said policing wristband distribution efforts would be a counterproductive process because Roundup continues to grow in popularity.

“The only thing I can see the IFC doing is mandating that only UT students get wristbands, but I really don’t think anyone would condone that or abide by it,” McNamara said.

On Saturday, police responded to a riot that took place outside a concert featuring rapper Juicy J at the Phi Kappa Psi house. According to an official affidavit, police were forced to disperse a crowd of about 200 partygoers after several conspired to break a fence and rush into the property.

According to police and eyewitness accounts, the crowd was not allowed into the concert because it was at capacity. All attendees needed to purchase a separate wristband. The situation escalated, leading to the destruction of private property that prompted police response. 

“Juicy J didn’t even take the stage,” said journalism junior Dylan Dickstein, who was at the concert. “The police came inside the gates blowing whistles, pointing flashlights and telling people to leave.”

Trejo responded to the scene and helped in clearing out the party. 

According to the same affidavit, one UT student was arrested at the scene. Thomas Edward Adams, a mechanical engineering freshman, was apprehended by police after refusing to follow orders to disperse. He was charged with participating in a riot, a class B misdemeanor. 

Adams refused to comment, citing his lack of legal counsel.

Printed on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 as: Roundup overcrowds West Campus, ignores codes