Eds: Updates with comment from police, Marshall officials.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Police and Marshall University are investigating a mass fraternity party involving several hundred students.
Several parties at fraternity houses along 5th Avenue in Huntington merged into one gathering on Aug. 22, the first weekend before classes, The Herald-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1MZlW8R) reported.
About 20 officers responded to the scene after police received calls about the parties. A majority of the students were cooperative, Huntington Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli said.
Police issued a number of citations to students for underage consumption, public intoxication, obstruction and noise violations, he said.
Officers had formed a riot formation to clear the students but no gear, shields, batons or tear gas were used, he said.
In addition to any criminal charges, students or organizations face university sanctions, such as suspension or probation, or intervention in the form of specialized training, said Lisa Martin, director of the Marshall Office of Student Conduct.
“We don’t know if there will be individual consequences or group consequences at this point,” Martin told the newspaper. “We’re working with Chief Ciccarelli and Marshall Police; Student Affairs, Student Conduct and Greek affairs, we’re all working together to see what happened this weekend.”
Ciccarelli, Marshall Police Chief Jim Terry and other university officials met with fraternity presidents on Wednesday to discuss the event.
“The message I had for the presidents last night was that kind of behavior plays into every negative stereotype about fraternity life,” Ciccarelli said Thursday. “They can either choose to go down that path or turn away from that sort of behavior and conduct.”
Terry said the matter is a safety issue.
“It comes down to safety, and we’re here to look out for the well-being of the student body,” Terry said. “We told them what we’ll tolerate from them. They have to realize they’re living amongst single family dwellings, where there are families who live there … They’re impacting more than Marshall students when they do that.”
Unlike homecoming week or the weekend before spring break, Terry said law enforcement authorities did not expect a large event during the first weekend before classes.
Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com