All Hallow’s Eve once served as a means of terror and summoning all things macabre when the student body was younger. Now, on university campuses, it’s been largely relegated to intoxicated college students sporting tasteless costumes.
In a cyclical twist of events, however, data suggest there is a reason to be afraid after all: a spike in crime tends to occur around Halloween for a multitude of reasons. Here at UConn, students must avoid becoming a part of that crime spike, so as to preserve Halloween as a memorable and continuing college event. Individual students should take responsibility for their own conduct this weekend and behave in a way that won’t result in another UConn viral video.
In 2011, James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, presented evidence that suggests serious violent crime (such as homicide and aggravated assault) has a propensity for surging on holidays such as New Year’s, Independence Day and Halloween. Using Boston crime statistics from years 2006 to 2009, Fox concluded the evening violent crime count is nearly 50 percent higher on Oct. 31 than any other night during the year, with peak crime occurring between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Fox surmises the occurrence of crime is “by virtue of the usual activities (e.g. drinking, carousing, and partying with friends).” While the city of Boston is a little more multifaceted than a college campus, it is nevertheless applicable in the latter’s case. Many problems around the UConn campus exacerbated on holiday’s like Halloween can likely be attributed to drunken tomfoolery escalating in the hands of the wrong person or people; in other words, problems that could be minimized with levelheaded behavior.
Other factors like the day of the week can encourage or discourage the prevalence of crime. Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, so that may spell greater trouble than if occurring at the beginning of the week, when people have more weekly responsibilities to consider. For instance, campus police at California Polytechnic State University made only five arrests on Halloween night in 2011, probably due to the fact the holiday was scheduled on a Monday. Across the country that same year, Connecticut was in the throes of the freak fall snowstorm Alfred, and Halloween was essentially cancelled, as it was difficult to trick-or-treat next to downed trees and telephone wires.
Another obvious consideration is weather. Criminologists have long studied the link between weather and crime, and most agree it is significantly less frequent in cold temperatures and vice-versa. According to The Weather Channel, Halloween night is predicted to be 39 degrees. This is certainly cold, but the consistency of this weather in Storrs may not necessarily deter ne’er-do-wells.
When there is cause for celebration, there will inevitably be a small fraction of people willing to commit wrongdoing and spoil it for the rest of us. Don’t be a part of that demographic, report problems if you observe them, abide by law enforcement officials on campus and consume responsibly. Have a safe holiday.