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Party monitors return for 2nd year

Tennis ball green has replaced basketball orange, but the work of party monitors--and their T-shirts--continues a year after the role was created.

Party monitors--all of whom are students--are charged with ensuring the safety of on-campus parties and attendees. Monitors must first attend a two-hour training session, which administrators estimate 200 students have done so far this year.

Overall, both students and administrators said they considered party monitors moderately effective last year.

"There is certainly room for improvement, but I wouldn't give it lower than a 'B' because [party monitors] have done above average," said Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Sue Wasiolek, who created the program and has attended many on-campus parties in the last year.

Wasiolek said campus climate and safety have improved since the advent of party monitors, but that more party monitors would help. There must be one party monitor for every 25 attendees, but Wasiolek said selective groups may be underestimating the number of party guests.

Assistant Dean of Students Stephen Bryan said the simple awareness party monitors gain from mandatory training sessions--four of which were held this week--and then their mandatory presence at parties created improvements in themselves. The sessions include presentations about alcohol consumption, sexual assault and related University policies.

"The most visible change is just that: a greater visibility," Bryan said. "It reminds students there is someone there to control the party and to check their own behavior. Even if a [trained party monitor] is not a party monitor on a particular night, he is still an extra set of eyes that has been exposed to the alcohol policy, sexual assault and things of that nature."

Based on her observations, Wasiolek said she thought most party monitors abided by the requirement that they remain sober for 24 hours before the event, but admitted that the job of a party monitor becomes more difficult as the night progresses.

In the last year, the number of fights at parties has decreased, while the number of sexual assaults has increased. Administrators said they are uncertain about how much party monitors contributed to these changes.

"The atmosphere of the meeting was telling that there is a problemâ??that people were cutting up and stuff," said Kappa Alpha Order fraternity sophomore Hamilton Boggs, who attended a training session Wednesday night. "But whether [trainees] took it seriously or not, everyone there heard the message and will be a little more aware."

When the original idea for party monitors was conceived, the University planned for professional monitors to work with student monitors at parties, but the idea became unfeasible last September when administrators could not find a private company that could cater to such a large number of events. Both Bryan and Wasiolek said that residential advisors and the new full-time residence coordinators could help control crowds, although the University is not asking that they supervise parties.

"Party monitors are taking their roles seriously, not just as something to please administrators," Bryan said. "A weakness may be, though, that it is difficult to confront one's peers, though I am not even sure that is a role we want them to have."

In light of an increased sexual assault awareness on campus in the last year, Director of the Women's Center Donna Lisker said she hopes party monitors will take an active role in creating a safer campus, despite the fact that the number of sexual assaults increased last year.

"Last year, we did training with the idea it could be useful in preventing sexual assaults," Lisker said. "In my opinion, the most effective kind of intervention is peer intervention."

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