St. Patrick’s Day alternative poses new risks
St Patrick’s Day celebrations on Ezra attracted over 7,000 last year, far exceeding the street’s limit. With the university, community members and police overwhelmed and concerned about the crowd size, alternatives have been presented in an attempt to break up the party.
Event planners will be creating a celebration alternative to Ezra and already 2000 students have expressed a desire to attend. The university and Students’ Union, along with city officials, have deemed this an acceptable option for crowd control and avoiding another scenario like Ezra last year. However, with a maximum capacity of 2500 and no guarantee of the event’s success or popularity, it remains to be seen whether the alternative gathering will solve the problem.
This may break up party-goers for a short amount of time, but the mobility of Ezra is part of the appeal. You can walk the street, come and go as you please and, perhaps most importantly, it is free to attend. The event costs money and students will be likely required to spend further money while there, which may push students to leave early. Moreover, staying in one location all day is unlikely, particularly for those coming from out of town due to Ezra’s notoriety.
The university and Students’ Union taking part in discussions makes sense due to their concern for students but also seemingly conflicts with alcohol policy, at least in spirit, with their backing of such an event. It is being organized and executed by an external company, but the support of the event could prove costly if not all goes as planned. The university and Students’ Union could certainly be held partially liable if the event fails to break up the Ezra party or fails to keep students safe.
The one saving grace for the university may be that the occasion falls on a Monday. This will likely limit the ability of students to visit from out of town based on their class commitments and some may celebrate on the weekend instead.
The lucky timing, combined with the alternative party option may be enough to end the Ezra tradition, but it is by no means a certainty. Based on how this year goes, all parties involved may have to be more innovative in dealing with a problem that will exist annually for the indefinite future.