Greek Life off campus event buses targeted by SDPD
By Sarah White
“I think it was a rough start to the semester for some students,” Director of Student Organizations and Greek Life Mandy Womack said. On both Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, almost a dozen members of USD Greek Life received minor in consumption citations from the San Diego Police Department. These citations were received both prior to and after events, but some students saying like they may have been uncalled for.
The first incident happened after the Lambda Chi Alpha Bid Night event. Witnesses say police were patrolling the overnight parking lot on the corner of West Mission Bay Dr. and Mission Blvd. when they spotted the event bus dropping off USD students. Students who were at the incident say police then approached the bus to get a better look at what was going on. This is where they began questioning students about their ages and handing out MIC citations.
“I’ve noticed that cops are being more strict at the beach lately and seem to be giving out more citations,” sophomore Billy Anderson said, “but this bus situation seemed planned.“
Anderson is a member of the fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha and he arrived to the parking lot on the second bus that was returning to the beach from the event. Although students on his bus were not getting stopped, he saw the police standing in front of the other bus.
“I saw the cops stopping random students for no reason and giving them tickets,” Anderson said.
The second incident happened on Sept. 27 prior to attending an off campus Delta Tau Delta event. Students had boarded the bus in the overnight parking lot when they say the police pulled the bus driver over to review his paperwork.
“Certain licensure and paperwork is checked by USD as far as safety and risk management, but this bus driver was missing one piece of paperwork,” Womack said. “While the police talked to the bus driver, they emptied the bus.”
Some students were confused as to why they were removed from the bus.
“We hadn’t done anything wrong when the police lined us up against the side of the bus,” sophomore Hannah Young said, “they were asking people their age and telling them that if they returned to the bus they would be breathalyzed.”
Young is a member of the sorority Gamma Phi Beta, and was on the bus during this incident.
“It did not seem fair that we had not caused any problems, and that the police showed up and destroyed an event wasting money not only put into the event, but also into the buses,” Young said.
“Luckily I am 21 so I wasn’t too worried about the cops being there, but I definitely felt bad for anyone who was underage,” senior Kami Shabaz said, “The cops sent the bus driver to Kinkos to print off proper documentation, and while they were gone half the students had already left in fear that the cops would return.”
Shabaz is a member of the sorority Kappa Delta, and was a witness to this incident.
“It was really random to have these cops come over, especially considering that we had done nothing wrong in order to attract attention from the police,” Shabaz said.
USD’s individual student organizations arrange contracting with bus companies, and negotiate logistics in accordance with the USD requirements for bus companies.
Attempts to reach SDPD by email were not responded to in time for the article go to print.
“For student organizations, driving to events is often among the riskiest aspects of the activity,” Womack said.
For fraternities and sororities, some of their (inter)national organizations require them to provide transportation to events where alcohol will be present. For this reason, all off-campus Greek Life events provide bus transportation as a precaution.
When incidents of this nature happen involving SDPD, Public Safety is not typically notified. If they are notified, Public Safety would refer these violations to USD’s student conduct process.
USD has a clear explanation of what they expect of their students in their Rules of Conduct. This document discusses student responsibilities to uphold the University of San Diego community, and to model good citizenship in any community. Consumption of alcoholic beverages by students under the age of 21 on University property or at a University-sponsored event is, therefore, prohibited.
Womack believes this incident was due to resident complaints. All citations were issued to students who were underage and she believes they were deserved. Womack does not predict any future changes to USD policy regarding off campus events.
“I do not think changing policies will change the problems,” Womack said. “Students who choose to drink underage need to be aware that the police are citing them for doing that. This is a risk that the students have to decide if they are willing to take.”
To some, the police action remained unwarranted despite the underage drinking.
“I think it is pretty ridiculous that cops were basically staking out, waiting for students to arrive at the buses,” Shabaz said, “I don’t think it is necessary considering we already have perfectly fine risk management systems put in place for Greek Life at USD to take care of anyone or anything getting out of hand.”