Students have been upset recently that weekend events are being shut down by the Campus Police based on a “No two events at the same time policy.” Nowhere is it written that two events can’t happen at the same time or that an overlapping event must be shut down.
“It’s not a policy, I would not even say it’s part of our procedure,” Tracy Murry, Dean of Students said. “I would say it’s more like a consideration of police, who brought it to our attention well before I was Dean, that they found it difficult to manage multiple events at the same time.”
“It was a standing policy that Student Affairs had in order to ensure the success of events.” Dylan Robitaille, Thesis Student and anthropology AOC, and a regular event host for on campus shows said.
Student Affairs had a webpage up, that has since been taken down, explaining how to plan a successful event. Making sure the event would go well and be stress free for the planner was the goal.
“That’s what these policies are extrapolated from,” Robitaille continued. “Were these rules that Student Affairs operated under to make sure that students were not stepping on each other’s toes. That’s what the No Two Events thing was about, not having two similar events at once so that they would both be well attended.”
However the policy or “consideration” started, students fear that it is infringing upon weekend events that are sponsored by students and are largely funded by students.
Shows sponsored by the Student Allocations Committee (SAC) have been shut down in the past by the police.
“A performer has rehearsed their art and the police shut them down in the middle of it because of some arbitrary end time and like, there’s no safety concern,” Robitaille said. “It happened with Gatsby. Everyone was still dancing and they [the police] interrupted the jazz band and were like ‘gotta shut it down, the events supposed to be over and the Wall is starting.’”
“Here is my dilemma,” Michael Kessie, Chief of Police said. “I have an event at the pool and I have an event in Palm Court and I may have 1 or 2 officers working. I have the rest of the campus to cover and have to provide security for USF. So our position on this is how many events there are and where they happen, we don’t have a problem with any of it, [just] give me the adequate number of staff to provide for the safety and security of the college…You see we only have so much staffing and we’re spread out too far.”
It’s a delicate balancing act between students planning and enjoying on campus events and the safety and security concerns of the campus police and like everything else it seems to come down to funding.
“We are getting more and more requests,” Kessie said “Have all the parties you want, have all the fun you want, but show me how I am going to be able to staff these and pay for it. We either need to hire more police officers or have outside officers come in. We can hire Sarasota Deputies to come in and work and augment us, however, we prefer that we keep it within our own officers because our officers understand our students a little better.”
“This is all a new area for us.” Murry said “Mainly because it used to be just Walls and then really, really small events. But now the Walls are getting smaller but the other events are getting bigger. And there are more events other than Walls that people want to have on the weekend.”
For a student to host an event they must fill out an Event Request Form online with Student Affairs which includes a start time, end time, whether or not it will be open to the public, how many people are expected to attend and whether extra security will be necessary.
Students that are planning an event should turn in the form at least 2 weeks ahead of time. If 2 events are scheduled the same night and overlap and both event requests are turned in early enough then it gives Student Affairs enough time to meet with both event hosts and work out timing so that one event will end and then the other will begin. “That’s happened a couple of times this year,” Murry said. “Where we caught it early enough and were able to work things out.”
“I would say your end time should be the time for when you want that space reserved,” Murry said. “A lot of people do this, that they may expect their event to be over at midnight but they’ll put 3:00am because they just want to be covered.”
“An end time coupled with an event that’s forwarded to the campus police is not really a hard deadline.” Said Robitaille. “When it gets shut down it is an interpretation by the police. If the event request hasn’t marked off that they need extra security then it shouldn’t be a concern, just like, you know, any other event that doesn’t need extra security. So there have been shows with twenty people or less and it’s been shut down. You don’t even need police to monitor an event that small, it will self-regulate. There has been no history of anything going wrong at a show or API or anything.”
“As Police Liaison and a student, I want to see the student body itself be more proactive on this and see these two offices [Campus Police and Student Affairs] communicating.” Said Carillo.
“Drinking and drug use have been the Administrations and the Cops main concern and the students care about that too,” Carillo continued. “And I feel like the student body has been working towards a way to make the cops and administration know that we can and will be safe. And that has been evident with the last two PCPs.”
“And if there is a safety concern the police will be called.” Added Dylan “It’s not like two events can’t ever happen its only ones that the police define are dangerous. So they are very much determining this.”
“If there are event questions,” Kessie said. “We encourage a defined policy with some discretion where we know what the rules are and you know what the rules are.”
NCSA President Cassie Corrado, Murry, and Kessie have all met to discuss the event policy issues.
“What I’m thinking about doing is creating a rough, rough draft to bring to student government in the fall and talk it through.” Murry said.
Ultimately the Board of Trustees must approve on a policy or delegate approval power to President O’Shea.