Morgantown City Council cuts an additional $25,000 from Sunnyside Up’s funding

Morgantown City Council members were very upset over the events that took place this weekend – 35 fires were set around town as part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Around 10 p.m. Tuesday night, a video was released by a group called I’m Shmacked, which has been traveling to 20 different college campuses making films of students partying.

Twitter exploded as students waited for the video to be posted on YouTube. Within 13 minutes, #imshmackedwvu was trending worldwide.

Meanwhile in council chambers, members expressed frustration and tried to think of ways to solve the problem. According to MetroNews, Deputy Mayor Ron Bane thinks West Virginia University isn’t harsh enough on students, and more serious penalties need to be put in place to send a message.

“I’m so angry right now, it’s ridiculous. I don’t think any of us should sit by in this room and wait for (WVU) to say, ‘oh, Johnny got a slap on the wrist,'” Bane said. “It’s enough. I want to put jail time back in. I’m all for that. Send them down to Harrison County and let them sit there for a month, and they will miss a month of classes. Well, tough.  You made the decision of being stupid.”

However, it seems that this may not be a WVU-specific problem. According to an article in the Charleston Gazette, Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said several thousand students from other schools flocked to Morgantown for spring break. One street fire was surrounded by Penn State students and the crowd at one rowdy house party was mainly University of Maryland students.

I’m not exactly sure how he’s gotten those numbers or can even say where people were from. I don’t think people normally volunteer what college they attend when cops are breaking up parties.

Besides discussing ways to punish students, council also discussed budget cuts again.

Earlier this month, council voted to cut Sunnyside Up’s budget from $100,000 per year to $75,000. During Tuesday’s meeting, council voted to cut an additional $25,000, according to MetroNews.

This will cut Sunnyside Up’s total budget from $200,000 to $100,000. West Virginia University matches the funds the city gives, meaning it will cut funding from $100,000 to $50,000, as well.

A Morgantown firefighter puts out a Dumpter fire in Sunnyside, near McLane Manor early Sunday morning. You see see the Sunnyside Up logo painted on the Dumpster. Sunnyside Up uses some of its funding to paint the Dumpsters.

(Photo credit: The Dominion Post – Jason DeProspero)

Since many of the fires took place in Sunnyside, I contacted Sunnyside Up’s Executive Director Jim Hunt to see what he thought about this past weekend’s events, which he described as “disappointing.”

“We realize that this is an ongoing effort and something that needs reinforced on a regular basis,” he said. “The dumpster fires were significant and caused several thousands of dollars damage.

“As with most issues of student behavior, a small minority damages the reputation of the whole. Students at WVU are on par with most schools, but a small core creates the poor image that we have to live with. New students see the ‘image’ and are inclined to follow some of these bad examples.”

I called Hunt earlier to ask about the new funding cuts that took place last night, but as of 3:35 p.m., I haven’t heard back from him yet. I will update again once I speak with him.

– Leann

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