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Freeze lifted for open parties on campus

Freeze lifted for open parties on campus

Elizabeth With is the Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of North Texas. Ashton Sackey

Freeze lifted for open parties on campus
February 14
22:29 2018

On-campus open parties hosted by student organizations are once again allowed after the freeze implemented by Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Elizabeth With was lifted in late January.

“There’s been incidents throughout the years and ultimately after an incident at an open party last fall, while it wasn’t the party that struck the freeze, it was kind of the last straw,” said Dr. Melissa McGuire, co-chair of the taskforce appointed by Dr. With to recommend changes for open parties.

The incident in question occurred at a party in September 2017, where an altercation resulted in a student going to the hospital. The injuries were not long-term, but it still raised concerns among UNT Police and the administration about the nature of open parties.

Those concerns were overcrowding, unknown guests in attendance, large amounts of cash at the door, fights, injuries, crimes, substance use, weapons, unruly crowds and venue cleanup, police said.

In all cases of fights and altercations, the instigator was someone not affiliated with UNT, McGuire said.

“The challenge we have is not with our students, because our students care about our environment and our campus,” With said. “It’s people that don’t have any commitment to our campus that are willing to disrupt that.”

A major point of consideration for the taskforce was the benefit of open parties to student organizations: fundraising, recruitment, publicity, socialization and branding.

To reach the best possible compromise, the taskforce was comprised of campus entities that oversee open parties – such as Risk Management and the Union – and the student organizations that most often host them – such as the National Pan Hellenic Council and the Black Student Union.

Among the open party rules in place prior to the freeze were having a certain number of police officers present depending on the number of people in attendance and using wristbands to keep track of how close the party was to reaching capacity.

The new rules address each concern raised by the administration and police department but do not prevent student organizations from hosting open parties.

For example, an Event Safety Committee (ESC) representative must be present, marketing for the party must be reviewed in advance and a police officer will escort a student with the money raised at the door to a secure location. Some rules, like meeting with the organization several days before the event, cannot be implemented until an open party happens.

The main concern, crowd control, is being handled by requiring attendees to buy presale tickets, use the university ticketing system and show university ID when presenting or buying a ticket at the door.

Another result of the taskforce’s efforts is an accountability committee, which will be headed by McGuire to address unregistered parties within Greek houses.

“We can only know about parties that go through Student Activities,” McGuire said. “But we know there are parties going on in Greek houses that aren’t on the radar of the Event Safety Committee.”

Dean of Students Dr. Maureen McGuinness said the new guidelines allow organizations obeying the rules to host parties even if others do not. Those who don’t will be made aware of the consequences and possibly face an investigation.

The taskforce’s recommendations have been added to the ESC website as of late January, when the freeze was lifted. A memo sent by ESC Chair Brittany Landau said organizations must send a representative to a large event planning training, which have already begun.

To see the taskforce’s full report, visit http://studentaffairs.unt.edu/event-safety-committee.

Featured Image: Elizabeth With is the Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of North Texas. Ashton Sackey

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Bianca Mujica

Bianca Mujica

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