Students groups, police prepare for Foxfield Races
Student Council sells bus tickets to 974 students
The annual Foxfield Races will commence Saturday morning, ending in the late afternoon — at once a festive event for students celebrating the end of classes and a high-risk event known for heavy drinking.
Historically, law enforcement officers have issued high number of arrests the day of the event, most often for disorderly conduct. Last year, 37 arrests were made, a large majority of which were public drunkenness charges.
Albemarle County Police spokesperson Carter Johnson said police would be on the lookout again for those who pose a security risk, with officers instructed to create a “safe environment,” which may result in “proactive enforcement.”
“In the past, we have had arrests for both underage drinking [and] drunk in public [charges],” Johnson said. “We’ve had some arrests for narcotics and drugs at the event. We really don’t want to see anyone who is a safety threat — who is a risk to themselves or anyone else at the event.”
Johnson warned those drinking under 21 are subject to arrest from a varied assortment of law enforcement officers, including the Albemarle County Police Department, Virginia State Police, Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office, University Police Department and the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control.
“Underage drinking is something that officers would be looking for and if they saw that, that would lead to an arrest, certainly,” Johnson said.
Third-year College student Hawa Ahmed, head of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team, is telling underage students who have false identification cards to leave them at home. Giving a law enforcement officer a fake ID could result in much more serious and far-reaching consequences than just an underage drinking charge, she said.
“If a cop stops you and you give them a form a fake identification, that can get you in so much more trouble than just a [regular] citation,” she said. “Just because you’re at an event with a lot of University students doesn’t mean you’re immune. [Police officers are] there to make sure everyone is safe and everything is under control so I don’t think it’s a breach at all for them to ask for identification.”
While the event will have what Johnson described as “all hands on deck,” the main objective is safety. ADAPT will also have a presence at the event, aiming to help students and law enforcement officers by encouraging sobriety and offering free food, snacks, water and sunscreen. So far, the Sober Pledge Campaign — an initiative which gives those who pledge to stay sober at Foxfield a free T-shirt and free soda all day — has produced what Ahmed called “extremely positive” results for the group.
“We’re almost out [of t-shirts] which is pretty exciting,” she said. “We had 800 shirts so that means we have close to 800 people who pledge to stay sober.”
Despite this, the majority of the student body has not pledged, which means there will still be a significant amount of risk. Spotty cell service and an abundance of people could result in several students getting lost in the crowd, Ahmed added.
“Always say stay with your friends, write down your plot number either on your hands or somewhere on your body,” she said. “If you get lost it will be really difficult for you to call your friends. Toward the end — when everybody’s leaving — if somebody’s lost, doesn’t know where their plot is, where their friends are, and they’re really intoxicated, oftentimes they have to be arrested because they are a danger to themselves and everyone around them.”
Student Council has also registered buses to take students to and from the event — a big success, according to Faith Lyons, a second-year Commerce student and Council spokesperson. So far, 974 students have registered to ride on three different buses, with a fourth potentially on the horizon.
“We are at capacity right now and we are looking to get a fourth bus because of it,” she said. “I definitely think it was [a good investment]. After UTS announced that there wouldn’t be buses to and from Foxfield, a lot of the students were upset because I think people count on a safe way to get home.”
The buses will be making round trips to Foxfield on the hour starting at 8 a.m. and ending at noon. Trips back from Foxfield to Grounds will start at 3 p.m. on a rolling basis.