In the past, it would be easy to describe the atmosphere surrounding Shark Night as something of a feeding frenzy of beer, parties, and unlawful behavior. This year’s Shark Night could be better described as calmer seas.

In the past, it would be easy to describe the atmosphere surrounding Shark Night as something of a feeding frenzy of beer, parties, and unlawful behavior. This year’s Shark Night could be better described as calmer seas.
Pittsburg State officials and local law enforcement made changes this year in regard to the celebration of the annual party night. Shark Night started as a Greek event, in which sorority women were not allowed to talk to men during Rush Week. Shark Night was a celebration of the end of that period of time, and often fell on the Saturday which ended Rush Week.
Pittsburg State officials, who could not cancel the event since it was not an official event, met with Greek representatives to see what could be done. Several changes were implemented, including changing the Rush Week period a few days earlier to make the first night of co-ed interaction earlier in the week. Second, several fraternities and sororities scheduled events outside of the Pittsburg area on the weekend.
Local law enforcement was “extremely pleased” with the changes in Shark Night.
“I think the response to what had become a community problem was great,” said Pittsburg Police Chief Mendy Hulvey. “There was a lot of cooperation between law enforcement agencies, the students, and the university. Shark Night as we’ve known it in the past is gone. I am a little disappointed at the number of alcohol arrests outside of that event. As we move forward, we will continue to be watchful and guarded.”
There were 18 arrests Friday and 34 arrests on Saturday, including 13 DUIs, 18 minor in possessions, six open container arrests and six arrests for public urination. The Shark Night weekend also included 274 total traffic stops and 110 total citations. There were no major crimes to speak of, compared to last year’s event, which was notable for a stabbing.
Pittsburg Police Major Brent Narges said the number of arrests were up this year, but that was likely a result of an increased amount of law enforcement presence.
“Obviously, this year we had a lot more arrests because we had a lot more law enforcement members out working,” Narges said. “It was a team effort between law enforcement and Pittsburg State in how to deal with the weekend. Although the arrests were a lot higher, this year we did not have any of the violent crimes.”
Pittsburg State officials felt comfortable about the changes in Shark Night.
“I think we feel very good about it,” said Ron Womble, PSU director of public relations. “It was obviously very effective. What made it work is all of these law enforcement agencies working together to be very visible to let folks know they would be out there that night.”
While the fears of Shark Night have diminished, that’s not to say law enforcement isn’t keeping a watchful eye on the potential of parties this weekend for the first home PSU football game.
“Shark Night had become a community problem,” Hulvey said. “We don’t want anything even closely resembling it to return. We will remain watchful and remain guarded to ensure that doesn’t happen. I think that we’re pleased with the steps that have been taken. I’m pleased, and the university is pleased. We’re thankful for the student input. They have been extremely responsible in solving this problem.”
As for Pittsburg State, it’s an issue that officials hope to have harpooned.
“If people are calling it a tradition,” Womble said, “it’s a tradition we’re happy is ending.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.