With the start of second semester underway, the Mifflin Street Block Party plans continue to engage those at the campus and city administration levels to address concerns regarding the event and its future.
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said he would like to see Mifflin be a student-led and student-focused event this year.
Resnick cited problems of sexual assault and violence as examples of concerns and added that in the past, those responsible for such actions have not been UW students.
“UW students know how to drink responsibly,” Resnick said. “Others don’t.”
According to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, the police this year will again utilize last year’s tactics, including keeping Mifflin Street open and enforcing ordinance violations. He said anything from underage drinking to open intoxicants and trespassing will be vigorously enforced by the police.
Verveer mentioned a UW student who was almost murdered at the block party in 2011 who, he said, was stabbed and could have lost his life. He added he never wants to see anything close to the violence that has occurred at Mifflin block parties in the past.
At the end of last semester, University of Wisconsin’s Associated Students of Madison voted in favor of a proposal for a Mifflin-alternative festival, an event which will add to the Mifflin Block Party discussion.
According to ASM spokesperson David Gardner, Student Council voted to approve the event to be one that will bring people together before finals.
ASM Vice Chair Maria Giannopoulos said the event will be held May 4. She said the group sees the event as an opportunity to celebrate the year as Badgers.
Gardner said he thinks it is the student government’s job to work for the students.
“A lot of what people want is to see something from their student government that will impact their campus,” Gardner said. “To make sure the student voice is heard is always a priority of ASM.”
Giannopoulos said while the May 4 event does coincide with Mifflin, it is completely separate and has nothing to do with the block party. She said ASM is only one source of support and cited the Wisconsin Union, the University of Wisconsin Police Department and the Chancellor’s Office as some examples of involvement.
ASM is engaging in conversations with Frank Productions, a promotional team that helps with the artists and bands at Freakfest, Giannopoulos siad.
Verveer said he fully appreciates the Mifflin Street Block Party as something many students look forward to. He said that weekend, no matter what happens with the Mifflin alternative or how the police treat those on Mifflin Street that day, will always be marked in the eyes of many students as a “party weekend.”
“I fully acknowledge that the Mifflin Street Block Party has long become a campus institution that has been going on for decades now in one form or another,” Verveer said. “It is not a campus tradition that will die easily, and its longevity has proven that.”
In the city’s eyes, Verveer said, what goes on at Mifflin Street, even though it has been going on since 1969, is not a legally sanctioned block party. He said the city expects people on Mifflin Street the first Saturday in May, but believes encouraging people to party at a more appropriate venue makes a lot of sense on many levels.