Last Thursday, May 14, the UCSD Police Department released the crime log for the 2015 Sun God Festival weekend, revealing fewer drug and alcohol-related incidents than last year.
Associate Vice President of A.S. Concerts and Events Seraphin Raya attributed these results to the new safety measures initiated by the Sun God Festival Health and Safety Task Force.
“These measures are put in place as health and safety measures,” Raya told the UCSD Guardian. “As any other large festival, our aim is to ensure that we are doing our part in ensuring that illicit substances are not entering the festival.”
Chancellor Khosla created the task force to address student behavior, campus policies pertinent to health and safety measures associated with the Sun God Festival. Drug-detection dogs, amnesty boxes for drugs and requiring residents to wear a wristband to indicate their place of residence were among the new policies implemented at this year’s festival.
This year, university administrators focused on drug and alcohol education through the “Stay with Me” campaign. This campaign sought to inform students how to drink responsibly, to encourage students to look out for each other when partying and also to reveal the reality of “pure molly,” which, as the campaign explained, is not always as pure as people think.
Training students how to take care of themselves in potentially harmful situations was key to the task force’s strategy for the festival, according to Raya.
Furthermore, AVP of Student Advocacy Ryan Huyler said that the implementation of the beer garden at this year’s festival was also a tactic created to curb excessive drinking prior to the festival.
“The beer garden was a great idea to limit the dangers of binge drinking,” Huyler admitted to the Guardian. “I think it is much more pragmatic to tell students how to use drugs safely, including drinking, than it is to tell them not to do them and expect that.”
In addition, the Office of Student Conduct sustained the Responsible Action Protocol this year in order to allow students to seek medical help for alcohol or drug-related incidents. RAP was created to remove the fear of being reprimanded for seeking help for alcohol consumption or drug misuse.
Students who used RAP were not subjected to the same student conduct process if they met certain requirements, as per the student conduct rules.
“The one thing that was a pleasant surprise was that people were checking themselves into Detox and that 10 percent of the people in detox were checked in using RAP,” Raya said. “The end goal is to ensure that students are knowledgeable in how to take care of themselves and know what resources are available to get help in sticky situations.”
When determining policies to implement at this year’s festival, as well as at future festivals, Raya claimed that students sitting on the task force asserted that students at UCSD are adults, and actions taken to ensure safety need to reflect this.
“The first couple of task force meetings during my term, a few members referred to students as ‘kids’,” Raya admitted. “The students on the committee were quick to remind folks that we are adults and deserve to be treated as such. This has resulted in this different stance. If Student Affairs continues to have real adult conversations with students, the mutual respect can result in great change and trust.”
Overall, there were 66 students admitted to detox, nine sent to the hospital and five arrested for drug-related incidents during the weekend of the festival.