Ohio University Residence Life hosted a powerpoint presentation by Pat McGee in the lobby at Biddle Hall Monday.
Pat McGee, Ohio University's Center for Student Legal Services Managing Attorney, warned students not to run from the police during the annual Athens Halloween Block Party.
“I rarely hear of instances where students get away,” McGee said Monday in a presentation to students.
About 30 students were in attendance at Biddle Hall while McGee went through a PowerPoint presentation lasting about 30 minutes about what students could do to stay safe and avoid legal trouble during the block party.
“Is it worth it?” McGee said students should ask themselves. “How do I minimize it so I don’t get caught?"
The presentation described how students can respond to run-ins with the police on Halloween. The Center for Student Legal Services is a non-profit organization that students are able to access with a $12 semesterly fee added to their tuition bill, according to its site.
“You have two best friends as a student,” McGee said in the presentation. “Allow me to introduce them. One is the fourth amendment, and the other is the fifth amendment.”
The fourth amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.
In the presentation, McGee said students should say to police: “I don’t consent to any searches.” McGee added that students should ask the police whether they’re being detained, or if they’re free to go.
The fifth amendment protects citizens from self incrimination.
McGee said students have to tell the police their name and address, but nothing else, and should tell the police they won’t answer any more questions without their attorney present.
Just because a party is on private property doesn’t necessarily mean the police won’t enter it, McGee said in his presentation. If the party is open to the public and anybody can walk in, the police can also enter, he added.
One way students can prevent this is by posting a sign saying ‘invited guests only,’ according to the presentation. While this might not prevent police from entering the premises, it might allow the student to make the case in court that the police entered illegally, he said.
McGee said students should be polite to the police and should leave when they tell them to.
“Whatever you do, give up the idea that if you’re in a crowd, you’re invincible,” McGee said. “There are unlucky people who get grabbed from crowds.”
McGee said many students don’t understand that drinking any amount of alcohol is a crime.
“People tell me this craziness like, ‘I didn’t get that drunk,' ” he said.
In the event of an alcohol-related arrest, the police don’t have to breathalyze students — just the smell of alcohol is enough, McGee said.
At the end of McGee’s presentation, Jim Sand, assistant director of East Green, stood and reminded students that even if they don’t face legal charges, they can still get in trouble for violating the OU Code of Conduct.
“You might follow what Pat says to the letter and get your case dismissed — it doesn’t matter,” Sand said.
Abby Graham, a freshman studying graphic design, said she wasn’t sure she’d call Student Legal Services if she got into trouble this weekend, but that she was glad she came anyway.
“I didn’t know Halloween was that big,” Graham said.
Kacia Robinson, an undecided freshman, said she also was glad she came to the presentation.
“I learned basically: don’t drink, or if you do, be discreet," Robinson said. "Also, know your rights."
McGee said he’d given 10 talks about Halloween so far.
“I always have to balance advising students not to drink with reminding them what resources are available if they do,” McGee said. “When I come into dorms like this, I don’t want to lose credibility.”