Hall Halloweekend Hotbox

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Katherine Daniel (Editor-in-Chief) , Grace Cavanaugh (Copy Editor) , & Nicole Freewalt (Graphic Designer) – Critograph

A Kappa Alpha Psi party in the Memorial Ballroom at the University of Lynchburg on Friday, Nov. 1 ended with the arrival of the Lynchburg Police Department and an ambulance. 

     While there are differing accounts of the events of the night, senior David Lovette, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and one of the party planners, said, “What you have heard or seen on Friday night is not what Kappa Alpha Psi represents or what NPHC represents at all.”

     He explained that the party was organized and approved by the  Coordinator for Student Engagement and Club/Organization Development, Deborah Brown, in September. Lovette said, “I noted that I did need security for this event. There was no notification sent to me from Security regarding this event. They had sent me a notification about a later party that I had scheduled for Nov. 15, and that I would be getting to them about that security. Other than that, they did not send me any notification a week before, did not ask me, and nobody called me.”

     He also noted, “Before the party, I had asked a security guard to unlock a door for me in [Hall Campus Center] and he did that. I had told him that we are having a party upstairs, just to remind you guys, and if I need him, I would give him a call.”

     Lovette explained that, “All together, the party started out really slow and then after around 11:00 p.m., people started rolling in. It was [members of the wider Lynchburg community] and people from other schools that we reached out to. We reached out to the public with this event.”

     Shekinah Chidzero, a senior, attended the party with some friends. She said, “Me and a few of my other friends, […] we all left the town houses and walked up there and there was actually a decent amount of people walking [into the party]. When we got inside, they were blocking people coming in and out and had a table set up. They were seeing people’s ID’s. They were concerned with the guys, especially those guys that did not go to our school.”

     Shauna Crawford, a sophomore who also attended the party said, “They were set up at the door and they were taking payments and patting down the guys. There was a lot of people at the party that were not from Lynchburg.”

     According to Chidzero, “Everything seemed fine. There were people dancing and there was a random spotlight in the middle of the dance floor. It was really dark in there. It seemed that there were more [members of the wider Lynchburg community] than there were students. The fraternity guys were walking around the party dressed up and they were monitoring things to see what was going on, so that was good.”

     However, things turned sour a little before the party was supposed to end. Chidzero said, “Probably an hour before it was supposed to end, they turned the lights on and starting yelling at people that they needed to leave the party. We thought someone had smoked weed before coming to campus and that the smell was just on them, but someone was smoking a whole blunt in the middle of the ballroom, when the Kappas specifically said not to smoke or vape.”

     Lovette said, “When people started coming in, people started to not follow the rules, as in smoking vapes inside the ballroom and jules in the ballroom. I had gotten onto the mic once Officer Tara came up to me and told me that that was unacceptable, which of course I know is unacceptable. You are not supposed to smoke in the buildings and normal people know you are not supposed to smoke in the buildings.”

     Lovette continued, “From there, it was about an hour or so, more people started filing in. The party started getting pretty exciting and a lot of people were having fun. Then, I got on the mic again and made an announcement about smoking/vaping. Next thing I know, Officer Tara comes in again and shuts down the party. At that point, I start kicking people out and that is all I really remember.”

     “It had just turned 1:00 a.m., and the DJ stopped the music and was like, ‘You guys, there are people smoking in here and if you all continue, then we are going to have to shut the party down.’ People started yelling to play music and not even 50 seconds into the song, the DJ said, ‘Everybody get out,’ and started turning on the lights. People started yelling and arguing,” Crawford stated.

     Crawford also said, “They were saying, ‘We are going to handle this outside,’ and there were these girls that were arguing with one of the campo officers. There was this big clutter of people and they started fighting.”

     Jazmyne Johnson, another senior who attended the party, said, “I walked out the back door and we saw the police walking up the stairs into the main entrance. No one was really causing problems while we were there. The smell was just strong and other people started to get feisty because they shut the party down. People got mad because someone ruined it and were pointing fingers.”

     According to Chidzero, “[Partygoers] start pointing fingers and start getting feisty with each other toward the front and getting mad. Not only could you smell the weed outside the ballroom, but there was also a man laying in his vomit outside. It was kind of a mess because either way, campo was going to show up. Someone had to call an ambulance and then someone had to call the police because there were too many things going on. Some of the [members of the wider Lynchburg community] were getting mad at each other over different things and were starting to fight each other. We heard the ambulance and the police sirens once we were back at the townhouses.”

     According to partygoers, security seemed to be unresponsive and was not very helpful. Lovette explained, “Other than coming to the party midway through, telling us about the smoking, shutting it down, and before the event when I had security unlock the door for me, that was the only interaction we had with security.”

     He continued, “One of the security officers I do know, after we started to kick people out, there was a huge mess that happened outside. When I [went] outside to see what was going on, one of the security officers straight up told me, ‘Handle your crowd’, which I did. I kicked them out of the ballroom. At that point I feel like that is your job to escort people off of the campus. I felt that it was really unprofessional.”

     He said, “I went to another officer to sincerely apologize again and then he was asking what was going on. Most of the stuff that was happening outside, I really was not paying attention to that part. I was inside trying to clean up the party.”

     Chidzero did not place the blame on the Kappas who threw the party. She said, “The issue was that people started to fight each other and the man was vomiting outside, and it was just a huge mess. I hope that is not the end of the Kappas on campus because I feel as though they did as much as they could to keep it safe. I think that they followed a very good procedure but there are some things that are hard to predict or to control unfortunately, things that happen, but you learn for the next time. I am not sure if there will be a next time though. But the people who organized the event, I personally feel they there were not at fault.”

     Despite rumors about an officer from the Lynchburg Police Department drawing a weapon, no sources could confirm this rumor.

     Lovette said, “For Kappa Alpha Psi, this is not really our representation. This is not what we stand for and not how we normally run things. This is kind of infiltration of the [members of the wider Lynchburg community] and at the end of the day, that is who we targeted, was off campus because we are a city wide chapter, not just a chapter at the university. We do have to target off campus as well. This was a poor representation of Kappa Alpha Psi.”

     Chidzero concluded, saying, “I was genuinely surprised when the party was shut down. No one was in a bad mood and no was throwing up inside. It was just a bunch of people dancing and talking, so it was kind of the blue.”

     Lovette finished by saying, “[Attendance-wise], it was a very great outcome. We are just sorry for what happened at the end of the night.”

     Thank you for the additional reporting by Caitlin Dorsch, Alyson Draper, and Joshua Price.