For some members of student organizations who host parties at the Garrett Culture Center, the center’s party policy seems unfair and even discriminatory. But administration members say the purpose is only to provide security.
What’s going on
Vice President of the Association of Latin American Students Marybel Parra said her experience with Garrett Cultural Center parties has discouraged freshman students from attending because of the multiple police officers outside of the building wanding and checking IDs of each student attending.
“They wand everyone that comes in, which seems like discrimination because at Foamcoming or Late Night BU, no wanding takes place,” she said. “[At] events like LNBU and Foamcoming, more people attend, therefore shouldn’t they be wanded, too?”
The Garrett Cultural Center is a space that is often utilized for events and parties hosted by multi-cultural organizations on campus. For years the facility has had a party policy, including a requirement that two officers not only be present, but be paid for by the organization.
The policy states, “A minimum of two police officers will be in attendance at each event. Campus Police will wand everyone entering a party. Effective the Fall Semester 2008 the Dance Party Sponsoring Organization will be responsible for paying $20 per hour for each Campus Police on duty working the event.”
Director of the Garrett Center Frances Jones said the policy hasn’t changed from last year, but at the beginning of the semester Bradley University Police Department Chief Brian Joschko made a decision to staff a student for $10 an hour, which the hosting organization is also responsible for paying.
Member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and junior computer science major Nate Smith said he feels the university is making it harder for organizations to host social events in the building.
“Since they are students we shouldn’t have to pay to have security for things that are happening on campus,” he said. “It seems like the university is moving toward making it more difficult for us to have parties, like they don’t want us to have parties there at all.”
Parra said the requirement to pay for security and an increase in the number of people they have to pay this year has made it difficult for ALAS.
“We have to pay $200 plus in order to have a party,” she said. “Part of that money goes to the [BUPD] when, in reality, we shouldn’t have to pay them pocket change for doing their daily job, protecting students.”
History of events
Although some students feel the policy is unfair, Galsky said the implementation of a party policy, and wanding attending students, is a result of several security issues that have occurred at parties in the past.
“The Garrett Center has had a policy for a long time,” he said. “Two or three years ago, there was a series of parties at the Garrett Center, and one at the Markin Center, that resulted in some pretty serious safety issues. Some non-students got into the parties, and in one case, a gun was brought in.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Alan Galsky said the policy has recently been revised to include suggestions from student leaders.
“We asked the student leaders for ways to improve the system so we could have parties again while still keeping students safe,” he said. “Six months later we implemented a policy that students and Bradley police agreed upon. The student leaders came to us again last year and wanted to revise the policy [for more] flexibility. We looked at the list with the Bradley police and modified the policy again.”
Joscho said after a report of aggravated battery, where a student was beaten up by a non-student at the back door of the Garrett Center, he decided to staff a student to survey the door.
“There was an aggravated battery because somebody was trying to sneak people in the back door and they were denied entry,” he said. “It was a big fiasco and not the type of activity you would want to have on campus.”
In the policy, hosting organizations are required to have a student member working the rear hallway and exit at all times, but Joscko said he thought it would be easier to hire someone who will be paid to work the area
“I’m not saying they weren’t doing their job,” he said. “But if we continue to ignore that problem it can become something worse and I don’t want something else bad happen.”
Smith said he was present at the party where this incident took place and said it wasn’t serious.
“I remember it happening and cops were there to handle it,” he said. “It happened outside and no one got into the party. It was a very small incident and wasn’t a brawl.”
Joschko said in comparison to a lot of universities, the Garrett Center’s policy is lenient.
“Each event held on campus is evaluated individually to determine security needs,” Lt. Troy Eeten of the BUPD said. “Several factors taken into consideration are crowd size, event location and past history of similar events. If more than two officers are observed at a party it would most likely be at the end of the party for crowd control outside the event given the Garrett Center’s proximity to Duryea Avenue and the dormitories.”
Although several students feel that hosting organizations should not be responsible for paying BUPD for security, Joschko said it is important that the organizations have responsibility in the cost.
“I like the idea that if it is a fund raising event that the organization is sharing the costs,” he said. “$20 an hour isn’t enough to cover the cost of a police officer. I don’t think asking that of organizations is excessive.”
Galsky said he agrees the policy is fair.
“If the event is being sponsored by a particular student organization, it seems fair that [paying the police officers] is an expense of the organization,” he said.
What happens next
Students who are unhappy with the policy have an opportunity to change things.
Galsky said even though the policy was recently changed, he is willing to work with students to find a solution.
“I am always open to suggestions from student leadership to make parties safe and more accessible,” he said. “If student leadership has suggestions for revising it, we’re happy to reconsider it in respect to the parties and the safety issues.”
Eeten said he agreed.
“I have always received positive feedback from partygoers concerning officers working the parties and I feel that only a few, not the majority, are unhappy with the current policy,” he said. “The university police department is always more than happy to review policy for prospective change.”
Joscko said the Garrett Center party policy is the only policy on campus that requires the organization to be financially responsible for party security, but that may change.
“I would like to see it be a university wide policy,” he said. “It seems to me that any fund raising event should have shared responsibility and pay for security. But that is a decision we wouldn’t make on our own there would be a meeting involving student leaders of organizations, fraternities and sororities.”