With the future of the Mifflin Street Block Party uncertain, the Associated Students of Madison announced they are not interested in any formal involvement in organizing the event this spring at a meeting Thursday.
Rachel Lepak, vice chair of legal affairs, represented ASM at a Mifflin West Committee meeting. She said if the block party operates in the same way as last year, she does not think ASM will want to play a role in it.
“We have bigger obligations to the student body than to plan a party,” Lepak said.
After meeting with Mayor Paul Soglin Wednesday evening, Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, addressed Soglin’s biggest concern with the event at the meeting. He said Soglin is not only concerned with the budget funds spent on police enforcement at the event, but he is also concerned with the amount of money students are losing to citations and arrests.
Verveer said the Madison Police Department remains firm in their opposition to the event. He said at the 2012 event, one police officer felt her life was endangered due to the large concentration of people in one small area.
Larry Warman, Mifflin West District Chair, said students will still engage in alternative drinking events even if the event is formally eliminated.
“People who are going to drink are still going to find a place to drink,” said Warman.
Warman addressed the possibility of moving the event to a location that is larger and less residential than Mifflin Street. He said Soglin is interested in meeting with current residents of Mifflin Street to discuss their thoughts and concerns about living on the street during the Block Party.
Verveer said he suggests ASM pair with the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board to promote their All-Campus Party as a “dry” alternative for students instead of the block party. He said if ASM donated the money in their budget for Mifflin to WASB, they could increase the size of the All-Campus Party.
Lepak said this could be a possibility; however, this action would have to be approved through the finance committee and Student Council.
Although Soglin remains opposed to the event, Verveer said he does not see a way of eliminating it. Verveer said as of now, Soglin plans on keeping the streets open and using a portion of the budget on police enforcement.
Verveer said Soglin hopes students will be less inclined to attend the block party as the years progress due to the rise in police enforcement. He said after Soglin’s conversations with MPD, he does not foresee any changes in police tactics from last year.
Questions about what the city will do about the event still remain. Soglin and the Mifflin West Committee are working on meeting with students to address the issues in the coming weeks.