Last Wednesday, Oct. 24, Fraternity and Sorority Council Co-Chairs Moira Allen and CJ Robison sent an email to the presidents of Trinity’s Greek organizations, announcing a change impacting all second-round recruitment parties and future events involving alcohol and off-campus, third-party vendors.
The email, which was sent the day after the initial decision made by the Trinity University Police Department and staff of Campus and Community Involvement, states, “TUPD is now requiring the presence of at least one TUPD officer to be at bus departure/arrival point for all future rush parties at a rate of $45 per hour for the duration of the event.”
According to Jamie Thompson, the change, which has not been adopted formally into Campus and Community Involvement bylaws or been drafted as an official document, is seen as a “best practice” protocol, rather than an actual policy change.
“I’m not sure there needs to be a difference between a requirement and best practice,” Thompson said. “It was just something we kind of saw happening already and we thought, “˜let’s just do this.'”
Thompson said the change was prompted, in part, by TUPD’s interactions with students like Megan Kruse, external rush chair for Alpha Chi Lambda. Kruse, along with other organizations’ recruitment chairs, is required to meet with someone in CCI when planning an off-campus event at a location where alcohol is present.
“During my meeting with Briana McGlamory [coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life], she suggested that I talk to TUPD about doing extra rounds around the Bell Center that day or paying them a small rate to have them be at the Bell Center, and I thought that was a great idea,” Kruse said. “I’m Student Conduct Board co-chair, and I’m able to see the affects of an event like this firsthand, so I think it’s important that officers are there because they can handle situations that other people might not know how to handle. Alpha Chi, like every other organization throwing their parties, is responsible for whoever is attending, so I wanted to make sure people were safe.” Kruse, who proceeded to contact TUPD officer Clint Ratliff on Oct. 19, said she was under the impression that the fee would be “significantly lower,” than $45 an hour when she initially contacted him.
“I called him on his day off and then sent him an email with all of the event information. I wanted to check up on Tuesday, so I emailed him again to see what else we could do,” Kruse said. “He emailed me back and said that he had just gotten out of a meeting and they had decided it would be a $45 fee, effective immediately. That was $150 more than I had budgeted and I was freaking out because I didn’t think we had room in the budget. Luckily, I had saved money other places and was able to cover it because if I hadn’t I don’t think we would have been able to have the party.”
According to Gary Logan, vice president for finance and administration, who oversees the campus police department, this rate is the same cost for any on-campus or off-campus group requiring TUPD’s assistance and reflects current market demands.
“The rates are based on market conditions, but it’s always been an hourly charge. It was updated this year to reflect current salaries and benefits,” Logan said.
The price increase, which officially took place at the beginning of January, boosted the rate from $35 to $45 with a four-hour minimum and applies to all events where police officers are coming from off duty to work events outside of their normal hours. In the past, TUPD has assisted un-officially by increasing their presence in the area the night of an event, but Paul Chapa, TUPD chief of police, said the distinction is that these events normally don’t involve alcohol.
“When we have students getting on buses and going off campus for events that involve alcohol and we have documented instances where underage drinking or public intoxication occurs, it’s a concern,” said Chapa, adding that their role is reactive, rather than proactive. “The misconception is that TUPD is going to be there writing tickets and enforcing rules, but when we’re there we’re not there in an enforcement manner. We’re there to assist and make sure everyone is having a good time.”
Thompson says the new initiative is meant to take some of the pressure off of students and staff who may not feel comfortable administering first aid or be able to determine whether an individual needs medical attention.
“We recognize that you are each other’s peers and it can be hard if you have to tell your friend that they can’t get on the bus because they’ve had a little too much to drink,” Thompson said. “This gets rid of that problem and also allows us to let the professionals take over and administer care if they need to.”
If groups are unable to pay the cost of hiring an officer, Thompson encourages them to come and talk to the CCI staff and to also look for funding elsewhere.
“We recognize that some of these events can be pretty pricey and that [the cost of hiring an officer] is not insignificant,” Thompson said. “If a group is really in a bind, they can talk to Greek Council or they might need to reexamine the dues they’re pulling in. There is some flexibility there.”