Bid-bashers concerned about police presence

By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday February 2, 2004

Although bid night went off Friday without any major police busts, the memories of last semester's underage drinking raids had partygoers more afraid of police than in previous years.

Bid nights are celebrations for students who have been selected as fraternity members. The parties are known as some of the biggest of the year for UA students.

Tyler Benson, a business senior and a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, has been to several bid bashes in his UA career. He said he noticed only one major difference this year.

"There's a lot more people worried about police," he said.

Benson said this is the first year he has seen such strict police involvement.

"They needed to crackdown on something, so they picked this," he said.

UAPD Cmdr. Kevin Haywood would not respond to calls over the weekend requesting information on how many police teams were around campus Friday night and how many people were arrested.

Police could be found everywhere on campus late Friday night as the parties went on.

Inside the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house, the dance floor was packed and the music was blasting, forcing people to have to scream in order to communicate.

Police swarmed around the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house around 10:30 p.m. Someone picked up a microphone and said, "UAPD is here. If you don't have a bracelet, you shouldn't be drinking."

Jessica Knuzynski, a retail sophomore, was at the Delta Tau Delta party. She said she and her friends only worried whether they could be charged with minor in possession.

Amanda Schwegel, an undeclared freshman, attended her first bid night at Kappa Sigma. She said she and her friend were worried because they'd already had a run-in with undercover police who had stopped them from buying alcohol at a convenience store.

Will Lewis, a communication junior and a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, said police have gotten much more strict since he first joined the fraternity.

"They're not letting anyone have fun," he said. "We have our own security. Cops just aren't needed."

On bid night, fraternities often hire their own security to check IDs and to control the number of people who join the party. Only people over 21 are given bracelets, which they can use to get drinks.

But not everyone who partied Friday felt the police presence was a problem.

Matt Harper, a pre-business sophomore and the vice president of Kappa Sigma, was helping other members turn away some partygoers. He said fraternities are only allowed to have a certain number of people inside the house.

"We have to cut people off at a certain point in order to follow the rules of GAMMA (Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol)," he said.

Kappa Sigma's dance floor was packed, and a fight almost broke out around midnight, but was quickly broken up by several people.

Harper said he felt the police weren't a problem and were just doing random checks.

Ian Sambor, an undeclared junior and the president of Pi Kappa Phi, said his fraternity has never really had a problem with police.

"We follow all of the rules of GAMMA. There's no problem if you follow the rules," he said.

Last semester's bid night resulted in 25 arrests.

Police stepped up their party patrols last semester, conducting bigger raids than Tucson had seen in the past. In October, 36 students were arrested on a bus coming from a Gamma Phi Beta sorority date dash.

The biggest bust came when police arrested 125 people at Jefferson at Star Ranch Apartments on Sept. 2, 2003.