North Texas Daily

UNT puts freeze on open student org parties until further notice

UNT puts freeze on open student org parties until further notice

September 27
22:01 2017

The UNT Student Affairs office placed a hold on all open parties hosted by student organizations. The hold began Sept. 13 and will continue until a committee determines recommendations for open party practices.

Open parties are events held on campus where people not affiliated with the university are invited. The main factor that triggered the freeze happened in early September when two assaults occurred at an open party in the Union, said Elizabeth With, vice president for student affairs.

With said there have been multiple incidents, such as arguments or altercations over the years with open parties that involve people from off-campus. This freeze is solely for the protection of UNT students.

“The whole point of the evaluation is risk and safety,” With said. “We’re trying to look at that because I feel like that’s my responsibility to make sure we provide as safe an environment as we can.”

Melissa McGuire, assistant vice president for student affairs, is the co-chair of a committee dedicated to determining better safety measures for UNT students at open parties. Assembling the committee members is still in progress, but McGuire said there will be students on the board to make sure their voices are heard. She said once the meetings start, they hope to finish in four to five weeks.

With said she hasn’t experienced students getting into fights or causing issues at open parties. McGuire also oversees the Event Safety Committee, a board that works with student organization leaders on planning on-campus parties that have certain risk factors. She said one reason why she thinks students act more appropriately is because of their commitment to the university.

“I have no doubt in my mind that UNT students care about our institution and don’t want to do something detrimental to the institution,” McGuire said. “If you are someone not affiliated with the university in any way, you have no allegiance to our campus so it’s easier to behave in a way that you wouldn’t normally behave.”

Kinesiology sophomore and member of the University Program Council Gabrielle Dominguez said she agrees safety is very important and worth reevaluating.

“UNT itself is its own community,” Dominguez said. “We’re here to create these events for the students so I do feel maybe that the hold is the right thing to do for now to see how everything is going.”

The current process for hosting open parties on campus begins with student organizations registering their event on OrgSync. As they fill out online forms explaining their event, there are certain factors that signal “red flags,” With said. Events that have too many risks are directed to the Event Safety Committee.

“There are certain things on that form that make it a high-risk party: the more people that are coming, if you’re serving alcohol and if you are allowing off-campus people,” With said. “The event safety committee works with the student organization to manage the risk. Just because these things are happening doesn’t mean you can’t have the party, it just means that there have to be certain risk management practices in place.”

McGuire said she believes the process works.

“This committee really makes sure that students have the tools they need to have a safe event,” McGuire said. “I do think we need to do a better job of training up front so that students have more time to develop programs the way they want to, but by and large its positive experiences.”

Featured Image: Students attend a University Program Council event on the Library Mall. These events were not affected by the open-parties ban by the student affairs office. Kady Shirley

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Celeste Gracia

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