Prioritizing safety on Halloween

Burlington holiday happenings with tips on Halloween safety from UVM police services and the Burlington police department.


Katie Brobst, Julia Higa, Staff Writers

Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, but that’s no deterrent for the spooky festivities of a college campus.

Several events will be happening both on campus and downtown the evening of Oct. 31, so students have their pick of ghostly adventures.

On Trinity campus, the UVM Ski and Snowboard Club will be hosting its eighth annual Dawn of the Shred rail jam.

The club will be setting up a course with snow to ski and snowboard on and some of their members will be showing off their winter sport skills.

The events starts at 7 p.m., but the presenters recommend getting there early to get good seats.

UVM’s LGBTQA Center will also be hosting an event Halloween night at 461 Main Street.

The center will be screening Queer Ghost Hunters, a documentary series about making supernatural contact with queer ghosts.

The event goes from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and is open to all students, snacks provided.

When it comes to seeking scary pastimes off campus, Main Street Landing Performing Arts will be showing a free double feature of Evil Dead and Army of Darkness starting at 7 p.m.

This will be the final showing in their OkGOREberfest line-up which included classics such as Poltergeist, Psycho and Motel Hell.

For those looking for a more interactive event, Waterworks in Winooski is having a Halloween-themed Trivia Tuesday.

This night’s quizzing will focus on pop culture, popular costumes, movies and television shows. The game starts at 7 p.m.

There are many diverse options for how students wish to spend their Halloweekend and Halloween night.

Some are planning a quieter evening.

“Halloween night itself I will be working on a paper that’s due the next day at 8 a.m.” junior Tommy Switzgable said.

“Assuming I get enough done, I’ll be able to watch a movie that’s in season,” he said. “Saturday night, I might go to the hockey game and hang with a couple friends downtown.”

Sophomore Samantha Benedetti is also looking at a peaceful Halloween.

“My friends and I were going to go camping in our costumes, but I’m working all weekend,” Benedetti said.

First-year Alex Deligianidis said her plans for Halloweekend will be watching the new season of Stranger Things, a Netflix original series about murder, monsters and psycho-kinetic powers, with her friends.

Spooky movies and TV are not the only calm Halloween activities students are planning this year.

“Last year I threw a huge bash with my roommates,” senior Julia Torra said. “This year we’re just having an intimate get together Saturday night before heading downtown.”

Muted Halloween or no, UVM police services and the Burlington Police Department are prepared for students and the community to be out on the town, officer Sue Roberts of UVM police services said..

According to an October 2016 New York Times article, 39 percent of college students have gone binge-drinking at least once in the previous month, while half use illicit drugs.

The drinking culture in college can be very dangerous at times and is amped up around certain holidays such as Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, the article stated.

Halloween is commonly associated with college students getting drunk, with more tricks than treats.

“Halloween is, for whatever reason, quite a party weekend,” said Shawn Burke, Burlington deputy police chief. “It’s very likely that we’ll see a real spike in Halloween-themed partygoers Saturday night.”

Not only is the Burlington police department concerned about students’ safety this weekend, they are also worried about the well-being of citizens in the city in general, Burke said.

Some aspects of Halloween night increase safety risks. With everyone walking around in costumes, it will be more difficult to identify the perpetrator of any possible crimes, Burke said.

“We’re generally well staffed [for Halloween],” he said. “It’s an event that’s not dissimilar to New Year’s Eve [and] July 4. It’s a fixed date on the calendar that we can plan for, so it’s helpful in that regard.”

Officer Sue Roberts of UVM police services offered suggestion on how to stay safe during Halloween.

“Be wary of people whose faces are completely hidden,” Roberts said. “Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have the Find My Phone application on in case you lose it.”

Students should also use the downtown shuttle and go out with a group of trusted friends, not people they have just met and don’t know very well, she said.

Roberts also suggested students hydrate, even if they aren’t planning on drinking, because their might change your mind once they go out.

She advised students to wear shoes they can run in if needed, pay attention to what streets they’re on so they can get back on their own and “if you get separated from your friends, don’t walk back with someone you just met,” Roberts said.

Regardless of the activities happening in celebration of Halloween, it’s important to remember to be safe, not just for Halloween weekend, but for every weekend you go out.

Burke encourages people to take advantage of medical amnesty. “[If] a person is calling for assistance for themselves or assistance for someone else, they are immune from prosecution for minor offenses related to their status at the time.”

Punishment for drinking and drugs might be the spookiest part of Halloween in college, but safety on this eerie holiday weekend is paramount, she said.