UMass students ticketed for weekend parties

  • A solitary person walks past the Old Chapel at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Feb. 8. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Monday, February 22, 2021

AMHERST — A self-sequestration order from the University of Massachusetts campus didn’t deter some college-age people from holding parties in town during Valentine’s Day weekend.

Amherst police officers responded to three parties where $300 tickets were issued to seven tenants for violating the town’s noise bylaw.

At 11:36 p.m. Friday, police went to McClellan Street following a complaint and found college-age people gathered without masks or any social distancing. The tenants issued tickets included a 22-year-old Wakefield resident, a 22-year-old from Plainview, New York, and a 21-year-old from Auburn.

Olympia Place was the site of a party at 9:16 p.m. Saturday. Officers, who were called for the loud music and banging on the floors and walls, issued a ticket to a 21-year-old from Amherst.

Finally, at 2:17 a.m. Sunday at a Phillips Street home, police reported loud music and games of beer pong were being played, with no personal protective equipment being worn. A 20-year-old from East Rockaway, New York, a 21-year-old from Barrington, Rhode Island, and a 20-year old from Cohasset were issued tickets.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said Tuesday that if those who received citations are identified as UMass students, their names will be provided to campus officials for review and action.

“If they are UMass students, they should be staying home and not socializing, period,” Bockelman said.

Due to the region’s high rate of coronavirus, these parties raise concerns for the town and the message needs to continue to get out about what is safe behavior, Bockelman said. Officers provided education while responding to the parties, he said, speaking to hosts and guests about the pandemic and responsible behavior.

UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said if specific information is provided to the university regarding the reported incidents, that would be shared with the dean of students for review under the code of student conduct.

From Jan. 1 through Feb. 6, 359 UMass students were referred to the university’s conduct office, with sanctions ranging from suspension and removal from campus housing to probation and reprimand.

Since classes started Feb. 1, the sanctions have included four suspensions, nine interim sanctions requiring removal from campus housing and four completed cases of removal from campus housing.

About 70 cases remain under review, Blaguszewski said, with resolutions expected in the coming weeks.

While police addressed the loud parties with tickets, other matters reported during the weekend included alleged gatherings on North Pleasant Street and at a South Amherst apartment complex, and too many people supposedly inside a downtown restaurant.

Police were also called about a woman taking pictures of vehicles and their license plates outside a laundromat in town, though she refused to divulge the reasons for her photography to a woman who accosted her. Some residents have previously suggested collecting evidence of college students who are not self-sequestering.

Town officials continue to recommend making calls to the COVID-19 hotline.

Amherst communications manager Brianna Sunryd said the hotline received 22 calls during the weekend, with most related to the continuing vaccine distribution and the possibility of caregivers for those 75 and over receiving it.

The hotline is mostly to relay information, not for immediate action.

“Unless there’s an emergency issue, there wouldn’t be a response in real time,” Sunryd said.