NIU liable for safety

Bad UP&A! Who’s going to lose their dance privileges this time?

Violence at a Homecoming dance sponsored by the PanHellenic council left two people injured and resulted in the arrest of someone for criminal trespass to state property, resisting a peace officer and disorderly conduct.

Another dance on Oct. 1 developed into an altercation between two members of fraternities. As a result of the disturbance, Kappa Alpha Psi’s Homecoming dance was banned from the Holmes Student Center and the fraternity was ordered not to hold its dance at its house. Although the fraternity held the dance at its house anyway, it was not punished by the university.

The way the university handled the incident left a bad taste in the mouths of the members of the fraternity. Kappa Alpha Psi representatives say they were not treated fairly by being judged only by University Programming and Activities and not its peers. The fraternity also says it shouldn’t have been punished for the actions of one of its members.

The fraternity was responsible for the dance and providing its security.

But, as this weekend’s dance fiasco shows, the university can’t even keep things under control at these events. Why should one fraternity be able to?

The PanHellenic dance had four University Police, 16 student security guards, two graduate advisers and PanHellenic’s adviser working as security. These 23 people were responsible for keeping the estimated 2,000 people who attended the dance under control. They obviously did the best they could under the circumstances. But, if the university had learned from past experiences, it would have taken more precautions.

UP&A Associate Director Rick Clark claims most of the problems at the dance were caused by non-NIU students. If that’s the case, then dances at the university should be open only to NIU students. This way, those involved in fights will be identified easier and can be held more accountable for the disturbances.

But Clark’s assertion seems to be just an excuse or a way to shift the blame off of NIU students. Whether or not the fighters are NIU students is a moot point anyway. NIU is liable for the safety of individuals attending university functions on university property.