Wednesday, March 28, 2007

UC Greeks and Police Team Up for Safe Parties

U. Colorado Greeks team with police for safer parties
By Nicole Danna

Which is more unlikely: A University of Colorado fraternity raising money to support its local patrol officers, or the greeks actually getting along with the city police?

If you answered neither, guess again, because in Boulder, Colo., you won't find any bad blood between the fraternities and the officers that patrol the Hill.

Actually, they get along just fine thanks to a liaison project initiated spring of last year by Sergeant Lauri Wegscheider, the captain of the Boulder Police Department's Hill team.

"They're not against us anymore. It seemed as though, in years past, there was a lot of animosity between the greeks and the police, and we wanted to communicate more," said Wegscheider, who began working the Hill beat after a 2006 promotion.

The liaison program, designed to improve relations between the police and the greek community, assigns one of the six Hill officers to each of the university's 10 Pan-Hellenic sororities and 14 fraternities.

Each Hill officer communicates with his or her house through its president, social chair and risk management representative, and works to educate them on issues such as safe party methods, security, noise and emergency procedures.

The Hill officer is also the person the chapters alert when they are planning a party of 50 people or more, said Wegscheider. The officer then conducts a safety check in the house to ensure everything is up to code.

"Rather than breaking up a party, they've taken a proactive role to ensure it happens safely," said CU junior Nicholas Heguy, president of the Delta Chi fraternity.

And with at least one fraternity party every weekend on the Hill, the program has been helpful in keeping things under control, said Wegscheider.

"They want to have parties, and that's fine, but we need to make them safe," said Wegscheider.

For CU Greek Advocate Marc Stine, it's the perfect example of community policing.
"We've come a long way from the Pig Bowl. The [fraternities and police] are working together more than they ever have. It's really amazing," said Stine.

According to Wegscheider, the liaison program has already had a positive improvement on the Hill.

"I do think that the relationships have changed. You still have a handful of people that haven't gotten with the changes yet, but we're all trying to work together, now, and that's been great," said Wegscheider.

But the police aren't the only ones taking the time to make things better.
To give back to those who have given so much, the Delta Chi fraternity has organized an all-greek formal to raise money for the BPD Hill team.

For Heguy, it's the best way to support those who have supported the greeks during the past two years.

The event will take place before Greek Week on Thursday, April 12. Tickets cost $15 per person, said Heguy, who hopes to raise as much as $15,000 during the event.

"The [Hill police] officers have been one group that have been very supportive, not just disciplinary," said Heguy Thursday. "They work with us on education and show us how we can be safer, rather than just pushing us away, as others have done. So we wanted to help them out as much we could, because they are the only ones that have stuck by us [in the past few years].

"The fraternities are no longer recognized by the university after the alcohol-poisoning death of a freshman pledge in 2004.

Since that time, the fraternities have been at odds with the university, which asked them to defer fall rush to spring recruitment instead. The fraternities declined, and as a result, relations between the two entities have been strained.

Heguy said he would like to see the event's funds go towards new alcohol education equipment that would aid the Hill officers in their instructional rounds on the Hill.

"But whether it goes back into the Greek community or not, this is for them," said Heguy. "It's really to give back to those who have helped us."