Despite temperatures being in the 40s Wednesday afternoon, many UConn students stopped by the Great Lawn for a barbecue hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government and Public Safety.
Students who visited found some free food, which many of them were grateful for, a K-9 demonstration, self-defense demonstration and a bean bag toss involving drunk goggles.
From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. a fire truck, ambulance, UCPD patrol vehicles, motorcycles and an ATV were parked outside of the Austin building for students to view. Along with the vehicles, officers and firefighters gave out key chains to passersby.
Starting in 2013, this event is hosted annually with the intention of improving the relationship between students and Public Safety. This year was the first that the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was involved, because it is relatively new, UCPD Chief Hans Rhynhart said.
“We want students to look at us on a human level, and kind of in an informal, low-key approach,” he said. “The proverbial breaking of the bread with each other and having good casual conversation.”
Another reason for the event was for students to “have fun,” USG president Dan Byrd said. Students who attended the event received free stuff and could watch the K-9 demonstration.
“We want students to come and meet USG, to come meet police officers, come meet firefighters [and] come meet [the] Office of Emergency Management,” Byrd said. “The Office of Emergency Management is doing a lot of good work in terms of preparedness in case something bad happens on campus.”
When asked why they came to the barbecue, seventh semester mechanical engineering major Nate Shurack and seventh semester computer science major Kyle Robinson said “free food and we like dogs.” Robinson said after watching the K-9 demonstration, he “doesn’t want to get bit by a [police] dog.”
Planning the event began last month during a monthly meeting between Rhynhart and Byrd.
“I met with Chief Rhynhart and said let’s do this month [October] before it gets too cold,” Byrd said. “We planned it back in September, but this is like a yearly thing for USG and UCPD.”
“This is a program that I think has been successful and is part of the many outreach programs we have,” Rhynhart said.