Faulty security results in fights

By Eric Krol

Fighting between street gangs and an NIU fraternity, a faulty security plan and a downed sound system brought an NIU fraternity dance to a halt last weekend.

A Friday night dance sponsored by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. at the Regency Room of the Holmes Student Center ended about midnight after a fuse blew, knocking out power to the dance’s music system, said Don Buckner, associate vice president for Student Affairs.

“Tempers flared, the room was hot and there was some fighting which terminated the dance,” Buckner added. The dance was scheduled to last until 3:30 a.m.

Although Buckner said the fights were quickly stopped by fraternity members, some of the combatants were part of Chicago street gangs visiting NIU for the dance. “There were some reports that there seemed to be some gang signs,” he said.

“I heard there were two gangs in attendance,” said Rick Clark, associate director of University Programming and Activities. “Again, it’s students talking.”

Some students said they saw guns present, but Clark said no NIU official reported seeing any guns.

“There was a report that one was seen but it was not verified,” Buckner said. Police were contacted, but they didn’t find anything resembling a gun, he added.

The gang-related incident also caused the cancellation of a Saturday night dance sponsored by Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

Buckner said since some of the same people likely would have attended the Saturday dance, he cancelled it to allow people some time to “cool down.”

However, it also appears that a faulty NIU security plan was partially responsible for the trouble.

Omega Psi Phi Graduate Adviser Willie Fowler said at past dances the fraternity provided security, but this semester the university assumed that role, charging an extra $80 to $120 for the service.

The security’s training apparently lacked thoroughness, however. Fowler said one security person told him he received only a “half-day of training the day before the event.”

“If students have to pay more, the security should be better trained,” he added. “It’s ludicrous.”

Fowler said he designed Omega Psi Phi’s plan, which worked well in the past. However, Fowler said the university decided to go with a plan of its own and did not ask him for any input.

As a result, Fowler said he doubted whether the security guards checked women’s purses as they entered. He said men sometimes use their girlfriends’ purses to smuggle in potential weapons.

Clark said a few security members were late for the dance, but the dance-goers stayed outside the Regency Room until everyone was frisked for alcohol and weapons and presented a form of identification.

Fowler said by the time he arrived at the dance, it was too late to act. “I saw bottles of pop being carried in,” he said. The bottles could be used as weapons if a fight broke out.

Fowler also said he saw members of Alpha Phi Alpha, another fraternity, fighting with the gang members. “This was unfortunate because all greek organizations agreed to help with security at these events,” he said. “It’s making the whole system look foolish.”

Clark said the event was not cancelled to penalize the sorority, but merely to calm everyone down. The sorority has rescheduled its dance for Saturday.

Fowler said his fraternity is working diligently to correct the problems and will likely offer NIU a plan.

The incident marks the second time this year that a fraternity dance held at night on campus has resulted in problems. In March, NIU student Alphonso Knight was stabbed at a residence hall after attending a fraternity dance.