WVU suggests no-party clauses for renters in effort to curb rioting
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - In the near future, Morgantown residents might have to "register" with the city if they're going to have a party.
They also might find their landlords incorporating or enforcing a "no-party" clause in rental agreements.
These are some of the many measures city and West Virginia University officials are considering to crack down on the wild behavior seen last weekend.
Corey Farris, WVU dean of students, and Morgantown Mayor Jim Manilla both said Thursday that more needs to be done to prevent riotous behavior following football victories.
Farris said WVU is encouraging landlords to consider the terms of lease agreements.
"When they saw what happened this weekend . . . they said, 'I guess we're not going to look the other way anymore,' " Farris said.
He thinks many landlords, particularly in the Sunnyside area, have rules in lease agreements that prohibit large parties. However, he's not sure landlords actually have enforced those policies.
The school wants all landlords to include such policies in lease agreements, Farris said. It's in the landlord's best interest as well as it could prevent property damage or allow landlords to evict tenants before the city can declare a residence a nuisance.
If the city makes such a declaration, it can evict the tenants and not allow the landlord to continue to rent that unit for a while, Farris said.
"I know landlords don't want their property torn up or the chance to lose income," he said. "It does make sense for the landlords to say, 'I want this in my lease. I want a no-party clause."
The mayor is skeptical that the city could enforce an ordinance requiring the clauses. However, he does think the concept of "registered" parties could prevent shenanigans from escalating.
Many college towns already require people to let authorities know when they plan to have a party of a particular size. Manilla thinks the registration is like a contract holding people accountable for party attendance and a way for law enforcement to know where potential trouble could crop up.
The idea was proposed during a meeting with city and school officials earlier in the week. Although no proposals are officially in the works yet, Manilla thought everyone was receptive to the registration idea.
"It kind of perked them up. They kind of smiled a little bit," he said of reactions at the meeting.
Following the weekend riots, city and school officials quickly announced there would be action to prevent similar situations in the future. University and city personnel went
door to door Thursday in Sunnyside and other neighborhoods, Farris said.
Groups of students and law enforcement officers reminded people of the consequences of causing a ruckus. He said the effort was not only to deter troublemakers, but also to remind bystanders they can contribute to the problem.
"The hooligans ... they're doing it for an audience," Farris said. "If there was not anybody there to watch them, it wouldn't be worth the time. They're certainly attention seekers."
Police will be out and about all weekend, Farris said. They're going to talk with fans earlier in the day to let them know they're watching closely. He also thinks police will be less lenient than in the past.
"Instead of telling you to pour out the beer, we're going to say pour out the beer and we're going to cite you," Farris said, adding he's not sure if enforcement was a problem in the past.
In addition to posting photos on social media sites and asking for help in identifying people, the Morgantown Police Department revealed details about six non-arson related arrests from this weekend.
Capt. Kevin Clark identified those arrested as James Zito, 20, of Glenelg, Md.; Kathryn Durko, 21, of Cokeburg, Pa.; Nathan Hoopergarner, 19, of Purseglove, Monongalia County; Timothy Watkins, 22, of Westminster, Md.; Alexandra Amato, 18, of Morgantown; and Vincent Raubaugh, 39 of Germantown, Md.
Zito was charged with obstructing an officer; Durko was charged with battery on an officer, obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct; Hoopergarner was charged with battery on a government representative, health care provider or emergency medical services personnel; Watkins was charged with obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct; Amato was charged with obstructing an officer and possession of alcohol by someone who is underage; and Raubaugh was charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct.
Zito, Durko, Watkins and Amato are all WVU students, according to the online student directory. Zito has been arrested several times in the past by WVU police on similar charges, according to school records.
Police saw Zito trying to light fire, according to a press release from the department. When they ordered him to stop, he allegedly ran away. He also is accused of resisting arrest and trying to stop officers from putting handcuffs on him.
Durko allegedly interfered with officers' attempt to arrest another person and "struck an officer with her hand," according to the release.
Hoopengarner allegedly threw a bottle at a police officer.
Watkins allegedly acted "with aggression to officer (attempting to punch)" and resisted arrest.
Amato was allegedly drunk under age and attempted to interfere with the arrest of another person.
Raubaugh acted "in a belligerent, aggressive and drunken manner" and failed to comply with an officer's directions.
Morgantown City Manager Terrance Moore said Wednesday he hopes students will see the charges as a deterrent. Farris said he thinks it will be a good way for people coming in to town to know that Morgantown doesn't tolerate such behavior.
Both expect school and city officials to have their hands full in the near future. With two football games and Halloween in the next three weekends, Manilla said law enforcement is going to change its tactics to prevent future outbursts.
Although he and other officials declined to provide details about those tactics, he said people shouldn't be worried.
"It's nothing drastic or anything that's crazy or way out of the box," Manilla said. "It's no hardcore type of initiatives. Nothing that would actually shock a lot of people."
Manilla also mentioned discussing a large, community bonfire or shutting down a street near the stadium - similar to what he saw when he went to Austin, Texas for the game last weekend.