Dance closes early because of alcohol

Jason Mann

Jason Mann

Over 600 students were sent into the cold early at the Black Light Dance on Jan. 24.

After the ambulance was called to the Volstorff Ballroom three times and one student was arrested for resisting arrest, the University Police Department told Sigma Phi Epsilon to end the dance at 12:30 a.m., a half hour before the dance was scheduled to end. UPD Chief Tim Heaton says he decided it was time everyone left after a third student was taken to Brookings Hospital, but he does not hold SigEp responsible.

“I don’t blame anyone for it. It wasn’t the fraternity’s fault these kids drank before the dance,” said Heaton.

Nathan Bylander, president of SigEp, says the incident will not prevent SigEp from hosting future Black Light Dances, although the fraternity will most likely affect how security is conducted.

“I want to make this clear: in no way does Sigma Phi Epsilon promote serving alcohol on campus, especially to minors,” said Bylander. “SigEp likes to host these for the student body, but students like these three run the risk of ruining it for 3,000 other students.”

Jennifer Novotny, director of The Union, said she was impressed by the quick actions of student leadership involved and that SigEp will be allowed to hold dances in the Volstorff Ballroom in the future. She said that as far as she knew, this was the first time a university-affiliated dance was canceled and that it seemed unusual that there was so much binge drinking at this time of the year.

“It was unfortunate the dance got canceled, but I trust the judgment of the staff,” said Novotny. “Does this mean the dance won’t happen again? Certainly it doesn’t. SigEp did take good security measures and followed their own policy quite well.”

She said that even though there seemed to be a lot of alcohol involved in the evening, there was no vandalism in The Union and relatively little mess, with the exception of some vomit.

“I think they had ambulances there all night,” said John Mellegard, a senior broadcast journalism major who was The Union manager on duty at the Black Light Dance. He said he helped with crowd control and escorting students from the dance when UPD shut it down but did not get much more involved.

“With an event like that, you just let UPD do their thing,” said Mellegard.