Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
For the third year, thousands of Ohio State students plan to descend on Woodruff and Chittenden avenues this weekend for parties that have become known for eliciting pepper spray.
The annual neighborhood block parties already have more than 4,000 Facebook invites. More than 2,000 people say they will be attending Woodfest and about 2,000 say they will be attending ChittShow this year.
The parties on East Woodruff Avenue and Chittenden Avenue are slated for Friday and Saturday nights, respectively.
Wes Merwin, a first-year in economics and business, said he’s never been to the parties but the stories he hears are drawing him in.
“I’m definitely considering going this year. I hear they’re crazy and huge,” he said. “I want to see how out of control it gets.”
Taylor Knaus, a second-year in biology, said the large-scale nature of these parties, however, is disruptive.
“I live next to Chitt so I’m not too happy about it happening this year,” she said. “Plus, it’s Sibs Weekend and I have my little sister coming so I’m a little worried about that. I don’t understand why they’re the same weekend.”
At last year’s festivities, three arrests were made, one of which was an OSU student. Additional citations issued included ones for open container, littering, prohibition of under 21 and curfew.
The block parties were shut down by the Columbus Division of Police using pepper spray.
Josh Sisler, a third-year in exercise science, said he attended Woodfest last year and it was “crazy.” He plans on going again this year.
“My buddies got maced and got their things stolen from their house. As an onlooker it was fine, but for them it definitely sucked,” he said.
Sisler said he thinks it is possible for the police to create order without having to be violent.
OSU Police redirected The Lantern to the Columbus Division of Police for comment.
“We want everyone to have a good time but they have to do it responsibly,” said Columbus Police Sgt. Rich Weiner.
Weiner said the Columbus Police work with the university and off campus housing as well as specifically with students hosting the parties. Officers come to the neighborhood prior to the weekend’s events to lay out expectations and consequences.
“As far as our communication with the people hosting the parties, it’s gotten a lot better,” Weiner said. “We want to continue to see responsible parties, because they can happen.”
Weiner said the police have an action plan in place if the parties do get out of hand. They will also have officers assigned to the specific areas in order to keep the peace.
“If the police show up, do what they say. It’s simply about the communication,” Weiner said.
Dave Isaacs, Student Life spokesman, said the Community Ambassadors have been vital in communicating this message to the off-campus neighborhoods.
Isaacs added that the underlying message is “party smart” and that students can take advantage of resources available through the university and online to find helpful tips.
“I think our real position on it is that a party in itself isn’t a bad thing,” he said. “It only becomes a bad thing when it gets out of control.”
Weiner said using pepper spray is better than physically laying hands on students.
“It’s all about safety for us,” he said. “You won’t be affected if you’re not doing anything wrong.”
Weiner also offered advice in terms of safety precautions; clear vehicles from streets, don’t walk or party in the streets, don’t light anything on fire (homes are old and vulnerable to even the smallest embers), be careful on rooftops and do not drink if you are underage.
Isaacs said part of the responsibility of safety rests on the hosts’ shoulders.
“We expect and anticipate that party hosts will be diligent in making absolutely sure that no one underage is served alcohol … it’s up to the hosts to ensure that partygoers don’t engage in dangerous behavior,” he said.
Weiner said there should be no question as to behavior.
“If you have any question in your mind as to ‘Should I be doing this?’ then you shouldn’t,” Weiner said. “If the party can go on successfully, it’s safe, and no one gets hurt by it, then that’s a great night.”
Madeline Roth contributed to this story.