Gold cards fail to keep doors open

By Jen Bland

About 70 students were left out in the cold Saturday night when NIU decided to close the doors on Omega Psi Phi’s bash.

As part of its 100 hours of community service, Omega Psi Phi sponsored a dance in the Regency Room of the Holmes Student Center after the Cypress Hill concert. The dance began at 10:30 p.m. and once the room reached capacity the university closed the doors.

Stephanie Harris, a sophomore communications major, said she arrived at the center around 12:15 a.m. to find at least 60 students sitting outside. When she asked what was going on, the students told her they had been turned away.

Among those closed out of the event were an undetermined amount of gold card holders. Gold cards were sold last week to assure entry into all the weekend’s events.

Students who purchased a gold card paid roughly $1.65 for each event, where students who didn’t buy a card had to pay $5 or $6 for each event.

Harris said she was sure she could get into the dance because she had purchased a gold card. She also said it was because she was a gold card holder that she waited until 12:15 a.m. to go to the party.

Willie Fowler, graduate adviser for Omega Psi Phi, said 99 percent of the gold card holders had been admitted, but those who came extremely late were not allowed in. Fowler also pointed out the dance was not included in the gold card package.

“Although 99 percent of the people that purchased our cards were totally satisfied, we will do everything within our capability to effectively serve the remaining 1 percent,” Fowler said.

One of the problems with capacity was the university’s refusal to allow Omega Psi Phi to use the Duke Ellington Ballroom, which has a larger capacity. Fowler said the university will not allow students in the Ballroom after 12:30 a.m. He said he felt capacity problems would be alleviated if the university would open the Ballroom for a longer period of time.

Brian Payne, director of public relations and special events for Omega Psi Phi, said the decision to close the doors was made by the university. “It was new to us also,” Payne said.

Payne said a number of Omega Psi Phi members including himself approached Jack Stiles, night manager of the Holmes Student Center, several times asking him to allow more people in the room and he refused.

Fowler said another problem lies in equity. He said the only time NIU adheres so strictly to these policies is during Omega Psi Phi-sponsored events.

One puzzling aspect of the problem was that, as people left, no one else was allowed in. Fowler said Stiles refused to let any more than 300 people into the room, regardless if students left and had no plans on returning.

Fowler said the gold cards were an experimental project and with any experimental projects there will be problems. He said there are a couple of things that will need to be fine-tuned including the problem of people sharing cards.

“We think that if this experimental project is to be more effective in the future, constructive criticism of this nature is not only healthy, but extremely helpful,” Fowler added. He encourages those who have comments about the program to please write Brian Payne at 835 Edgebrook #6.

By offering the gold cards, Omega Psi Phi lost about $2,000, he said, but they decided to do it to help with security and to build better relations with the university.

Despite the problems faced with accommodating the number of students who wanted to attend, the security was a success. Fowler said students told him they felt safe, which is something he has not heard in a long time.

Fowler tips his hat to the undergraduate Omega Psi Phi members on their coordination of the weekend. He said it was a major undertaking and they did a great job.

He went on to say the university said T-Force, a security company in Chicago, should be used in the future. The bracelets participants were required to wear for Omega Psi Phi’s weekend helped alleviate a lot of pressure from students and the university alike, Fowler said.